Evaluating an opportunity isn’t easy. Even your dream job will have less exciting aspects. Things that are downright boring. I know from experience.
As a nontraditional student, I juggled my college classes with a full-time job. As a twenty-something, I did my best to find time for a bit of social life as well. It took me almost 7 years to get my B.A.
After graduating with a degree in English and a minor in Media Studies, I landed a job as an assistant editor with a national 4-color magazine. My first month on the job I was writing the news column. Since it was a small publication, in a few months I was writing feature articles and helping the photographer with cover shoots.
It was awesome.
I loved every minute of it.
One of the less intellectually demanding tasks was packing up the products which had been used in photo shoots and typing shipping labels. Sometimes dozens of shipping labels on a typewriter. There was a lot of other grunt work as well.
Would I have accepted that job offer if I knew about all the less thrilling tasks?
In a heartbeat.
However, someone else might not have.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before beginning your job search, certainly before accepting a job offer. Some of these may not be as important to you as others. Pick the ones that are relevant to you. The answers will help you evaluate each company, position, and offer before saying yes..
#1 Does the organization’s business or activity align with your interests and values?
It is easier to give 100% to the job if you are enthusiastic about what the organization does. This doesn’t necessarily mean working for a nonprofit. The key is that the company’s values align with yours.
#2 How will the size of the organization affect you? Whether large or small the size of the company often directly affects you.
One of the benefits of working for a large firm can be a greater variety of training programs and career paths, more managerial levels for advancement, and better employee benefits than those offered at small firms. They also may have more advanced technologies. The downside is that, many jobs in large firms tend to be highly specialized.
For example, a talented graphic designer I worked with at that small magazine left to work at a much larger, more glamorous publication with millions of readers. He soon found that instead of working on 5 magazines each month he would be working on 1 page of the publication. He didn’t like it.
One of the benefits of working for a small firm is often more autonomy and responsibility, a closer working relationship with top management, and a chance to clearly see your contribution to the success of the organization.
#3 Should you work for a relatively new company or a well-established one?
Working for a new business can be exciting. However, new businesses have a high failure rate. Still helping to create a company and the potential for sharing in its success more than offset the risk of job loss.
However, if you want, or need, more security it may be just as exciting and rewarding to work for a young firm that already has a foothold on success.
#4 Does the job match your interests and allow you to use your skills?
Even if you love the company and your coworkers, you might be unhappy if you don’t like the overall day-to-day duties. You can overcome a few distasteful tasks, as I did with my writing job. However, you need to like the overall scope.
While determining in advance whether you will like the work may be difficult, the more you find out about the work the more likely you are to make the right decision when accepting or rejecting the offer. Make sure the day-to-day responsibilities are explained in enough detail during the interview process.
#5 Does the employer offer professional development?
Professional development comes in many forms. It might mean attending company training programs or industry conferences. Some employers offer tuition reimbursement programs which allow you to earn a degree, and further your career, on the employer’s dime.
Depending on where you are in your career professional development opportunities may be less important However, the opportunity to learn and make connections at conferences and other events is beneficial at any career level.
#6 How important is the job to the company or organization?
Finding out where you fit in the organization and how you will be contributing to the company’s overall goals should give you an idea of the job’s importance. The value of holding a vital position and having transferable skills can make a difference if your company downsizes.
#6 What are the hours? Is there flexibility?
Most jobs involve regular hours during a typical workweek; other jobs require night, weekend, or holiday work. Some jobs routinely require overtime to meet deadlines or sales or production goals, or to better serve customers. Consider how the job’s work hours will affect your personal life.
#8 How long do most people who enter this job stay with the company?
This can be tricky. High turnover can mean employee dissatisfaction with the work or the company. However, long-term employment can also signal employee complacency.
Ask exploratory questions like “why is this position open?” Pay attention during the interview process. Look around when you’re invited in for an interview, do people look happy there?
#9 What opportunities does the company offer?
A good job offers you opportunities to learn new skills, increase your earnings, and rise to positions of greater authority, responsibility, and prestige. A lack of opportunities can dampen interest in the work and result in frustration and boredom.
If you’re seeking advancement, look for companies that have a career path and a training program for you. Find out was new skills the company plans to teach you.
#10 Is there advancement?
Speaking of advancement, the employer should give you some idea of promotion possibilities within the organization. Here are a few questions to get you started.
What is the next step on the career ladder? Is the position you’re hoping to fill open due to promotion? Do you have to If you must wait for a job to become vacant before you can be promoted, how long does this usually take?
If changing careers is your goal, you might ask if people transfer to other departments? Does the company promote from within before opening the search to external candidates?
Some of the things on this list might be relevant to you. Others may not. If you’re already an SVP you may not be as concerned about having a career path as someone 5 years into his or her career.
These questions are to get you thinking. Focus on the ones that are important to you. Add others I missed. The most important thing is to carefully consider each job offer before saying yes or no.
For a slightly different take on evaluating a job offer read this.