It’s tempting, especially in these tough times, to take that first job offer. The money looks good. The bennies are nice, and you’re tired of living in a run-down apartment. But before you accept that job offer, consider the following Big Five stipulators:
Push/Pull. Am I being pushed into this job by my wife, girlfriend, parents, or in laws? Or am I being pulled into the job by an attractive salary and cushy perks? The real reason should be one that matches your career goals and makes you happy. If what you’re doing fails to make you happy at the end of the day, you’ll perform poorly and your career will suffer. So choose wisely.
Culture Shock. Can you survive the company culture? Some companies can be pretty “out there” when it comes to corporate activities. One company I worked for was into EST (Erhard Seminars Training), with bizarre, ritualistic intensive self-empowerment workshops. Another company I interviewed with was into mandatory after-work activities—creative projects and self help chores. It pays to ask about these extracurricular and mandated activities before you accept a job offer. Some people like this sort of thing, others don’t. If the opportunity presents itself, talk to some employees during their lunch break or take them aside during the initial company tour. If you can find employees on a social media site, contact them and ask them what the company is like.
Cog or Ladder. Will you be just another cog in the company’s human machine? Or are they offering you a ladder to climb? Some jobs are there just to keep things moving. You put in your time, send in your weekly “TPS report” and collect your check. Other jobs are paths to growth and advancement. Ask your potential employer about the position you’re filling. How long did the previous employee have it? Did they move laterally or were they promoted?
Boss—Tyrant or Trainer. This is a hard one to put your finger on. During a job interview, bosses can make you believe they’re your best buddy. But after week one, you’re thinking holy crap, this guy’s a slave-driving lunatic. Again, if you can pull aside a worker from the lunch room or during the facilities tour, ask what the boss is like.
Daily Commute. Will you be driving to work or working to drive? Consider how much time you’ll spend fighting traffic during your daily commute to and from work? High gas prices are here to stay, so figure the cost of weekly tank fill-ups when you weigh salary offers. Even if you buy a Prius or stuff yourself into a Smart Car, the traffic will get to you after a few months and you’ll end up looking for another job. My second job out of college had a huge commute. After a year, I left for a job closer to home.
Your first job offer will be a balancing act between caveat emptor and carpe diem. Good luck. Comments? Add them to the box below.