Congratulations! You’ve been offered a job. Maybe it’s the job of your dreams, maybe it’s one that will help get you to the next level of your career, or maybe it’s just good enough for where you are right now. But how do you know if you should really take it? If it seems too good to be true, what if that’s because it is?
Here are five questions you must answer for yourself before accepting any job.
1. What is the culture really like?
Before you think about the company, think about yourself. Write down how you like to work — is it in a collaborative room with lots of minds, or independently and quietly? Are you a morning or evening person? Do you like having one supervisor or many? Get as specific as you can, delineating “needs” vs. “wants,” or “must haves” vs. “nice to haves.” Make sure you know what your bottom lines are in certain areas, and where you are flexible in others.
Once you know what you need and want, assess the company. Do they have a lot of remote positions where you don’t see everyone regularly? Do they expect you to be in the office between certain hours, regardless of that day's workload? Do they schedule meetings for first thing or in the evening? Are they flexible around maternity leave, childcare, or family obligations? Do employees regularly spend time together outside of work, or is efficiency and effectiveness more of a priority?
2. Is there space to use skills I already have and learn the ones I want?
Ideally you will have ~60-70% of the skills you need to do the job you’re being offered, and the rest they will teach you. Teaching you the skills means providing instruction, opportunity for practice, and space to use your newfound skill until you reach mastery.
3. What opportunities for growth exist?
Will a development plan be part of your overall job performance reviews regularly, or are you on your own to seek out opportunities? A great boss will support and develop you in growth, even if that ultimately means you will leave their team eventually.
4. Do our values align?
To determine if there is alignment, look at their website and read their mission statement. Ask yourself, “Where am I already demonstrating their values in my life?” For example, let’s say you were applying for a job with Whole Foods. On their website, it states that one of their measurements of success is “improvement in the state of the environment and local and larger community support.” You would then ask yourself, where in your life do you exhibit behaviors aligned with this vision? Do you recycle, compost, or volunteer on your neighborhood beautification committee? Do you ride a bicycle, reuse plastic bags, and bring your own shopping bag whenever possible?
If your life does not already show your commitment to a company’s values, take a closer look. Will this company be the right fit for you, and you for it? If not, don’t waste both of your time. Find an organization whose mission, vision, and values are ones that are already present in your current life. That will be a seamless match.
5. Does it meet my financial goals?
Note that I didn’t say financial needs. Those are different. Financial needs keep you out of debt, pay your bills, and maybe allow you to go to dinner once in a while. Financial goals allow you to go on dream vacations, buy a home, save for retirement, and build a life for yourself by creating opportunities for your future self to have everything she wants.
The most important thing to remember is to listen to your gut. Your brain constantly catalogues and stores information you may never become aware of. If you had to be conscious of every single thing going on in the world around you in order to survive, you would be on sensory overload from the moment you opened your eyes in the morning. Your brain recognizes patterns that look like previous experiences, information that seems out of place, and movements that do not fit the expectations of a situation. All of this hums in the back of your brain like apps refreshing on your iPhone, storing and sorting data for future use. So, if something feels right to you, listen to that feeling. If something does not feel right, try to examine why you are feeling uneasy. If you can’t exactly pinpoint it but just know something feels “off,” listen to that feeling. It is telling you about years of information stored for this very purpose — to alert you when something is wrong and to help you make an alternative decision. You know what is right for you. Trust yourself.
Jenny is the founder of Forward in Heels Executive Coaching, which empowers badass women who want to excel at what they do, stand tall, and own their worth so they can light up the world. As a licensed psychotherapist as well as certified executive leadership coach, Jenny has been helping women make bold, lasting changes in their lives for over a decade.
Fairygodboss is committed to improving the workplace and lives of women.