The world and beyond – Surviving in the economic jungle

Advice, tips and tricks on how to engage with the UK jobs market and commercial environment, from a female executive's perspective

Guide to Job Hunting: 6 things to consider before accepting a job offer

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Scoring an offer means you’ve made it through the toughest part of the job hunt. All the applications, research, and hard work has paid off—congrats!

But not all the stress is over just yet. Now comes an important decision: whether or not to accept the position. How do you know if it’s the right job for you? Or, what if you have to choose between two appealing offers?

I have heard candidates say; ” I will accept but I still have a second interview pending. I can always turn it down again later, if I get a better offer elsewhere.”

Actually, no you can’t. Because accepting a job offer, according to British employment law, is entering into a contract and this is equally binding on both employer and employee. There is of course the small issue of trust – How would it affect you if someone did this to you, for example if they had agreed to buy your old car or house and then pulled out at the last minute?

Weighing the dozens of pros and cons can easily be overwhelming, so here are the most important factors to keep in mind when you’re making that important decision.

1. The People

No, my number one consideration is not the money—it’s the people. Your boss, your team, and the co-workers that will surround you everyday are crucial for your happiness and success at a job. Sure, it’s hard to judge people after only meeting them briefly, but think about how they treated you during the interview process. Were they friendly? Did they ask personal questions as well as professional ones? Did they call you back in a timely manner?

The answers to these questions may reflect how your co-workers and superiors will treat you as an employee.

2. The Environment

Weigh the pros and cons of working for a corporation, an agency, a charity, or a start-up. They’re very, very different environments, and it’s important to decide which you’d thrive in. If you’re more of an individual worker who likes structure and competition, the corporate path may be for you. If you want a fast-paced environment that’s new every day, an agency or start-up may be a good choice.

The physical location is also important to consider. For example, a long commute  may pull down your everyday attitude. Nothing is worse than going to a miserable work environment every morning—and even worse, taking that unhappiness home with you, too.

3. The Benefits

If a company offers its employees perks like health, dental, retirement, and flexible spending plans, it could mean they’re competitive and doing well financially. If they don’t offer benefits package, it might just be because they’re small, but it could also imply that they’re struggling as a company.

Even if benefits aren’t overly important to you, consider how this compares to your current package and ask yourself whether you can do without the benefits in return for the other perks you can see in the job.

4. The Stability

A lot of organizations are able to impress with their past work or current profits, but take some time to do research on the company’s recent success and hiring activities. Has it been operating steadily during this crazy economic climate? If so, you’re likely looking at a pretty stable job. If not, be careful: you could be walking into a hazardous environment and a job that could be gone within a year. Companies with track records of hiring and firing are likely to do so again in future.

5. The Money

When looking at a job offer, or comparing two, often the most tempting thing to do is to go for the money, but that’s not necessarily the right approach. Salary is only a small part of my happiness at work.

Consider what salary you could live with, as well as the amount that would make a job offer irresistible, and keep those numbers in mind (and of course, negotiate!). Think more about potential of the whole package and less about the numbers on your monthly paycheck.

6. Your Gut

Finally, after you’ve weighed the important factors, take time to listen to what your gut is telling you. People often say when they’re buying a house, “when you walk into the one, you’ll feel it.” Same advice here: if you walk out of  an interview and everything feels right (or wrong),  pay attention to that feeling. The money might not be perfect, but if you feel good about the people, the role, the environment, then that is a good sign. Go for it!

2 Responses

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  1. I have just read the above information and was intrigued to note that once an offer has been made and accepted that this is a legally binding contract under British Employment Law.
    I recently had an interview with a company for a vacancy advertised which occurred a couple of days after having fallen off a ladder and injuring my leg while doing a chore at home. I was succesful at interview and at the end of the interview I had shown them the sweeling to my leg. The following day, the agency confirmed that the company I had the interview with was very impressed with my interview and offered my a job which I verbally accepted over the phone and received aletter from the agency confirming my start date and time with the company for the permanent position. OVer the weekend before I was due to start my leg injury worsened in that I could not walk on my leg and by Sunday night I was in pain all night and my Wife went took me to hospital early Monday morning. We finally managed to leave the hospital and be home by Midday which meant I missed the start time of my new job for 9am but my wife visited the company on her way to work and told them which they advised should be fine and okay to start in a weeks time in accordance with the advice of the hospital to rest the leg for that minimum period of time. However, I doscovered almost at the end of the week that the company had infact filled the position with another candidate supplied by the agency and had withdrawn their offer to me. I was grossly unhappy at this decision and the agency advised me that can do whatever they so feel is appropriate and that as I did not email or phone them on the sunday or Monday whilst at hospital the position was then given to someone else. So I dont think that the Law has any bearing on Employers or Empoyment agencies any longer as they really could not care less.

    Anthony Cameron

    March 19, 2012 at 9:24 am

    • Hi Anthony – I am going to use your reply in my next blog post. I hope you managed to get things sorted out!

      Cathy Richardson

      March 20, 2012 at 10:04 am

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