Ask yourself these career questions before signing on the dotted line.
You’ve made it through the lengthy, intense interview process and you just got the call you’ve been waiting for: a job offer. Congratulations! It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a potential new job, which can signal a major life change. However, it’s important to think through any new job offer carefully before putting in your two weeks notice at your current company. Beyond negotiating your salary and benefits, there are dozens of other details to consider before saying yes to a new workplace, a new commute, a new boss, and a whole new set of responsibilities. Career experts share their top suggestions for questions to ask both yourself and your employer before accepting a new position.
Will this make the most of who I am?
“Being in a job that fully utilizes your unique strengths and skills drives meaning and engagement with your work,” says Joseph Liu, a London-based career change consultant and host of the Career Relaunch podcast. “Conversely, doing work that leaves you feeling like you’re not making the most of who you are can be incredibly frustrating.” Consider whether you’ll be well positioned to offer unique value in this new role, which will help you to feel like a valued employee.
How are the people?
Pay close attention to people at the new company—the person you’ll be directly reporting to, peers, and anyone who will report to you. “They can make or break your job satisfaction and provide insight into what it’s really like day-to-day,” says Jenna Hess, a career services coach with Boston Consulting Group in Chicago. “Interviewing is like a long first date—everyone is putting their best foot forward. Now that you have an offer, ask for time to talk to them again.”
Hess advises planning one-on-one conversations rather than a group lunch, as people are more likely to open up this way. “Ask any questions that you may have been hesitant to test during the interview process: When do they typically get into the office and leave each day? How often and for how long are they checking email or doing work once they get home? What does the path to promotion look like?” says Hess. “It’s better to inform yourself now than be unpleasantly surprised on the job.”
Will this work energize me?
“Doing work that excites you ultimately leads to greater long-term work satisfaction because you’ll be spending your days doing work that leaves you feeling energized rather than [depleted] at the end of the day,” says Liu.
Could I get the same opportunities in my current role?
“When changing jobs, the biggest thing that you lose are your working connections,” says Fiona Arnold, a career coach and director at Red Crest Careers in the U.K. “Often when you join a new company, you have to start that process of relationship building again," Arnold says. "If you're changing your job to increase your earning potential, or to start a role that caters better to the kind of work that you enjoy doing, you should first ask yourself if there are people in your current company who you have built relationships with who may be able to help facilitate these same kinds of opportunities within your current company.”
Are you running to this job, or away from your current job?
Consider whether you’re accepting the new job because you believe it’s a good fit for you, or because you feel insecure about your ability to find something that’s a better fit. (The same holds true if you’re currently unemployed.) “It’s human nature to be risk-averse at times when it comes to our paycheck and financial livelihood, but the fear of what may or may not be around the corner can lead you to accept a job that is not a great fit,” says Eli Howayeck, founder and CEO of Crafted Career Concepts in Wisconsin. “This can open the door to a whole host of challenges.”
Is there opportunity for both advancement and variety?
You may end up loving the company, but not loving the actual job. Think about whether the company’s operations and culture would provide an opportunity to find a better fit within the company, says Howayeck.
Will the company support my lifestyle, as well as my career?
For many people, career is a big part of their lives—but it’s not the only part. Your family situation plays a big role in considering whether a new job is right for you. Jenna Hillier, a San Diego-based life coach and business consultant for women transitioning jobs, says it’s perfectly OK to communicate your wants and needs in this area to a potential new employer. “Start your new relationship off right with clear expectations and boundaries,” Hillier says. “Let them know what time you need to get your kids from school, what week your annual family reunion is and that you never miss the Tuesday yoga class. These are important conversations to have to ensure that the company not only supports your professional goals, but your personal goals, too. Let me assure you that you're not asking for too much, and that you absolutely deserve that level of respect.”
Is the juice worth the squeeze?
It sounds like a funny question—but in most cases, a higher-paying job comes with more responsibilities. “A big promotion or increase in pay is great, but companies expect to get what they pay for," says Howayeck. "If they're paying a premium to acquire you and your talents, what expectations will the company or your boss have for you?”