Finding a new job can be an intimidating and exhausting process. As a candidate who is looking for a new position, it’s important not to lose sight of the total package. After all, when you finally receive a job offer from that dream organization, you will want to feel confident in your decision to accept. This blog is designed to highlight some of the important questions to have answered before receiving an offer and accepting a position, as well as some words of advice when evaluating a job offer.
Let’s start at the very beginning.
When looking for a new position, you should have an idea of what has you considering this change in the first place. What are your “must-haves”? What are your negotiables?
Understanding what has caused you to leave previous positions and what your goals are in making a change will drive some of your expectations and “must-haves.”
Common reasons for looking for a new position are often centered around job growth, salary, benefits, vacation time or the culture and personalities of your office. Which of these items are most important to you? Which ones are negotiable?
Ultimately, the motivation behind your desire for change will show you why you are seeking a new opportunity and, most importantly, see the “must-haves” you will strive for in your next role.
The Heart of it.
Once you have identified your strengths, motivators and “must-haves,” it is time to start applying, interviewing, and getting to what we call the “heart of it,” or the discovery phase.
When applying for a new opportunity, be careful not to judge a book by its cover. Often the important items on your “must-haves” list will not be found in a simple job description. The true reality of a position and an organization is revealed throughout the application and interview process.
Prior to accepting a job offer, take the time to get a clear picture of what the opportunity entails. Having answers to the following questions will be an invaluable help in this process.
- Job Expectations – What are the minimum and maximum functional expectations that will be required of you in this opportunity? Understanding the expectations will help eliminate any future surprises after starting a position.
- Job Title – What will your job title be? What are the job titles of the people you will be working with daily? What is the job title of the managers to whom you will be reporting? Knowing the titles can give you great insight into how this position fits within an organization and what the chain of command surrounding this position will look like. This can also give you some insight into potential areas of career growth, as well as overall company expectations.
- Salary – Discerning the details of the salary is often the most significant component of an offer. Here are some helpful thoughts to keep in mind regarding compensation structure:
▪ Base salary- what are you being offered and is it annual, monthly or weekly?
▪ How often you will receive your pay check? Most employers pay bi-weekly, but it is always worth clarifying.
▪ In addition to understanding your base salary, it is helpful to know when you will be eligible for salary reviews and what requirements must be satisfied to receive a salary increase.
▪ Last, but certainly not least: are there any bonus opportunities? Bonuses can provide additional income to your overall compensation plan. It is important that your potential employer has -outlined the details around their bonus plan, i.e. is it individual or company performance-based? Is it an annual incentive or a sign on bonus? Be sure to ask about details regarding the -timeline of when you will/would be paid on these prospective bonuses.
- Benefits – Salary is not the only compensation you will be receiving when accepting a position. Benefits are also a significant piece of an offer. This can include medical, dental, vision, retirement, investment and medical leave options. These will vary across organizations and may depend on the position for which you are interviewing. It’s worth your while to review, in detail, the current year’s benefits package, which should include in-depth details on 401k and investment opportunities, as well as vacation and medical leave. Ask how long the grace period is before you can opt into health coverage, when you are able to contribute to your 401K and if/when you are eligible for any company match and vesting.
- Time Investment – Before accepting a new position, you must have a full understanding of what your schedule and potential work-life balance will look like.
Getting an idea of your daily schedule, how often you will be expected to be “connected” while outside of the office and how much flexibility you will have in your individual office hours will give you a solid understanding of what your employer will expect. Important questions to ask include:
▪ What time are the office hours?
▪ Is there any flexibility throughout the work day?
▪ What does lunch look like?
▪ Will I need to be connected outside of my 40-hour work week? (i.e. on your email in the evenings or on weekends etc.)
Vacation and PTO– Vacation and Paid Time Off (PTO) can also be looked at as part of your overall compensation package. Helpful questions to have answered:
▪ Do they offer vacation or PTO?
▪ If they offer vacation, are sick and vacation time separate or consolidated in the company’s plan?
▪ How much vacation / PTO do you get annually (days)?
▪ How quickly will you accrue vacation/PTO, and at what rate (i.e. 2 hours per week, etc.)?
▪ How many holidays do they have a year? Are there any stipulations around dates you are or are not eligible to use PTO or vacation time?
- Travel – Ask about travel requirements.
▪ Will there be travel expected?
▪ If yes – how often will travel take place?
▪ Is there reimbursement for travel expenses? Mileage? Per diem?
Many positions have a multi-stage interview process. Know that most of the above questions should come out conversationally and with ease from your prospective employer and hiring management. That way, when it comes time to accept a job offer, you have all the details you need to compare this position to your personal goals, expectations and “must-haves.”
An important note: when accepting a position, there may be an element of negotiation to the position. This does not always happen, but it can be a bit of a guessing game when it does. That is why working with a recruiting firm is a huge asset to you. They can assist in unveiling some of the flexibility in the negotiation process. Recruiting firms have existing relationships with companies and will help navigate some of the negotiable and non-negotiable items.
At the end of the day, it’s important to be:
- Happy with the salary being offered
- Excited about the company
- Comfortable communicating and engaging daily with the hiring team, and future colleagues
If you can say yes to all those things, then it would seem you have a solid opportunity in your hands and your future is looking bright!
Best of luck in your next career move! You never know when the next opportunity for career growth may present itself. And Palmer Group would love to be a resource for you in this process. Take a look at our website to see the positions we have available, sign up for job alerts and connect with one of our expert recruiters today. We would be happy to walk through this journey with you.