When you get a decent enough job offer, you might be tempted to just sign immediately. It’s an exciting time, after all. You want to escape the routines of the job search and move on to that next step in your career and your life.
But before you sign the offer letter and commit your future to that new role, it’s prudent to ask yourself these important questions to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
Is my compensation package fair?
Before you even consider signing an offer letter, read through it with a fine toothed comb. It’ll either be comprehensive and include crucial information about your entire compensation package, beyond what you would get in salary, or it’ll be very simple and you’ll have to request a lot of information you need to know before committing. You want to know about vacation time, paid sick leave, maternity/paternity leave, bonuses, benefits, and more.
Even if your base salary might be fair, you should look for other areas of weakness in the offer. For example, you may be getting significantly less vacation time than you’d want, or your company may not have a favorable health benefits package. These things are important to overall job satisfaction and can be buried or forgotten in the initial rush to start working.
It’s also important to know that all these things are negotiable. You don’t just have the option to negotiate on your salary. Depending on where you’re at in your career and how valuable you could be to an employer, you can ask for an extra week of paid leave, commuter benefits, or other secondary elements of compensation that are often easier for an employer to give than more salary.
These are small aspects of your compensation that add up to a large effect on your job satisfaction and productivity. And they’re also a great way to increase your overall compensation without asking for a higher salary.
Have I been thorough in evaluating other options?
It’s not just important to have applied to a wide variety of jobs. Have you gotten through many interviews? Do you have other offers on the table? Have you told them about this offer in an attempt to get them to increase the value of their offer? Is this truly the job you and your career need right now?
Signing an offer letter without exploring and seeing through all your options is the right course of action only in two cases: when you aren’t getting very far in the hiring process with other companies, and when you aren’t given much time to decide on the offer. And in the latter case, you should be really sure this company is for you or ask for more time to consider, even if you might lose that opportunity.
But if you do have time on your side and you are decently far along with other companies, then you should go through the entire hiring process with them. Unless you have the perfect opportunity with a great compensation package at an awesome company, it’s great to keep your options open and hear what other employers might offer.
And the fact you have an offer allows you to speed up the process with other companies. By informing them of your need to make a decision, you will either prompt them to hurry to interview you or to tell you that they can’t speed up for your sake. In the first case, you get considered more quickly, which might land you another offer. In the second case, you are given the information you need to move on from that company and into your new role.
Do I understand what I’m getting myself into?
Finally, and most importantly, you need to be sure that the offer is the right opportunity for you and your career. Did you establish a good understanding of the role in question? Have you gotten a beat for the company culture and expect to fit in? Did the hiring manager clue you in as to what success in this job means? Are you as excited by the job and organization as you are about the opportunity to work?
If you’ve been leading a targeted job search from the start, it’s likely that you applied to this company for all the right reasons and can therefore securely make the decision to join them. If not, take the time to think about your own job search parameters. Think about what you want out of a role, both in terms of benefits and responsibilities. And judge the job offer and the company based on those parameters.
If it passes the test, congratulations, you’ve found yourself a great new job! If not, you might want to hold off for better opportunities. Make this choice for the right reasons, don’t get caught up in the heat of the moment, and find your best fit.