Three things you should consider before accepting a job offer
Leif Radford, Analytics Recruitment Manager at marketing recruitment agency The Candidate, explores the things jobseekers should bear in mind before jumping at that seemingly exciting offer from a potential employer.
The process of applying, interviewing for, and accepting a new role can be a challenging experience to say the least.
In the whirlwind of emotions that you go through, it often comes as such a relief to receive an offer that we accept before there’s chance for the hiring manager to change their mind.
The problem is, without giving all of the consideration we would any other major life decision, we can often rush in to accepting a new role without considering whether what we’re being offered is actually going to work for us in the long-term.
Admittedly, without an external party to prompt us, it’s often hard to take a step back when you’re caught up in the process. So, with that in mind, here are three things you might not have previously considered, but definitely should, before accepting your next offer.
Are your cultural values aligned?
From reading the job description and going through the interview process, it’s relatively straightforward to understand factors such as the location of the office, the company you’ll be working for, the salary on offer, and so on.
These are the tangible, unchanging aspects of a potential new role that you can rely upon - hopefully. What’s often much more difficult to get a grasp of is a feel for “culture fit”.
Feeling as though you're among like-minded people and having a sense of community is often a pivotal part of how long someone will stay in a role, so it’s definitely something we should be considering before agreeing to join a new business. But if culture is relatively intangible concept, how do we identify the cultural values of a potential employer?
There are two different methods you can use.
The first is to make use of readily available information. Think about what you saw during your interview process. Check their social media presence. Ask people within the industry what they’ve heard. All this info helps to build up a picture of the cultural branding of a potential employer. The only problem with this is that it can be filtered and even biased.
The second approach is to ask your prospective employer subjective questions that will reveal glimpses of the real culture, without being as easily filtered. For example, ask: “What's your stance on working late?” If the answer is “you’re expected to stay until you have everything finished,” it could hint that the culture is fast-paced and high-pressure.
On the other hand, if you're told “we don’t mind how you do it, as long as you deliver your work to the agreed time scale and standard”, it would suggest that the culture is flexible, open and trusting.
Combine the information you get from both of these approaches, and you'll get a good feel for their cultural values. All that’s left to do is to have an honest and frank think about which values are important to you, and evaluate whether the two are aligned.
Be wary of gimmick benefits
So, you’ve had your offer letter through, and on top of the basic salary they’re offering a “fantastic benefits package” including flexible working options, a pool table, and early finishes and beers on a Friday. That all sounds great, right?
We’re in a candidate-short market, so for the first time, employers are having to persuade candidates that their offer is better than their competition’s. As a result - just like candidates sometimes exaggerate on CVs - employers are now starting to over-inflate their benefits.
How can you avoid falling under the spell of magical benefits? Be wary of the wording, and make sure you challenge things.
For example, when it comes to “flexible working options”, what does that actually mean to this specific business? After doing a little digging, it often becomes apparent that what initially sounds like “the flexibility to work where and when would make you most productive and happy,” realistically translates to “you can request, a week in advance, to start late and finish an hour later, and we might approve it.”
That’s not flexible working, and if you need a little flexibility around your personal life (to go to parents’ evenings, medical appointments, or wait for the boiler to be fixed) make sure you’re aware of exactly what's being offered, or pay the price later.
What is your motivation for moving roles?
Before you formally accept any offer, take a step back and think about your motivation for moving roles. What is it that you’re looking for, that you’re not getting currently? More money? More responsibility? The opportunity to continue to develop your skills?
Whatever your motivation may be, have you approached your current employer to ask if it’s something they can provide?
Often this is seen as being far too direct, but the key is not to demand what you’re looking for immediately without any further effort on your part. For example, if you’re looking for a pay rise, ask what steps or plan could be implemented to get you towards your overall goal within a projected timeframe.
Why is this important? Well, let’s assume that you're relatively well-regarded within your current role. When you hand in your notice, your current business is not going to want to lose you, making it likely you'll receive a counter-offer based on the reasons you give them for wanting to leave.
If you’ve already approached them with these motivations without the threat of leaving, to little success, you can be relatively sure that any further promises they make now are also unlikely to come to fruition too. As a result, you’re less likely to accept the counter-offer and end up wasting another six months not being able to work towards your wider career goals.
On top of this, if you do decide to accept a counter-offer, you’ve damaged your position in your current business, potentially prevented another candidate from being offered the role, and cost multiple parties both time and money.
Of course, there are scenarios where cultural fit might not matter - if you’re on a fixed-term contract for example. Your motivation for wanting to leave might also not be something that your employer could fix. These are just three examples to prompt you not to dive in head-first, without hesitation.
If you can take a moment to think about the bigger picture, about things that you might not have otherwise considered, you can confidently accept that offer safe in the knowledge it really is as good a decision as it sounded.