When you’ve put in every effort to receive a job offer, those two small words — “you’re hired” — can set you floating on air.
Before you accept a new gig, though, it’s important to take a step back and make sure that some important questions have been answered. It might take everything within your power to hold off on yelling “I accept!” right away, but taking some time now to cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s can help avoid confusion once you actually get started in your new role.
Here are a few things you’ll likely want to consider before agreeing to a start date (although that’s something you’ll want to make sure you ask about ahead of time, too!).
Question 1: Who exactly will you report to, and how involved will they be?
While it’s not necessary to determine exactly how many emails you’ll be exchanging with your boss every day or how often you’ll be required to attend meetings, it is a good idea to find out exactly who you’ll be reporting directly to (whether that’s one or multiple people, it’s good to have an idea before you start), and just how involved they will be in your everyday goings on. For example, is this job more autonomous, or will you be required to mostly partake in group or guided projects?
What to do if you don’t like the answer: You probably can’t do much to change the structure of the role you’re applying for (and if you find you do want to change a lot about it, it’s probably not the role for you), but you can ask pointed questions to get to the root of whether or not there will be any opportunity for leadership roles in this new gig, if that’s what you’re interested in. For example, asking whether or not the job in question will require mostly projects as a team and/or whether or not there will be leadership opportunities either within those team roles our outside of them will help you understand how much autonomy you’ll have once you start.
Question 2: What is the review process like?
While it might seem nitpicky to inquire into how often you’ll be graded on your performance before you’ve even started, how a company handles evaluating its employees is actually an important indicator of how much they value their efforts. If the company you’re about to start with doesn’t have regular opportunities for peer and boss reviews, it could be harder for you to make sure your hard work gets noticed and your achievements are properly rewarded.
What to do if you don’t like the answer: If you’d prefer a review process and the company doesn’t seem to have one in place, it’s worth asking if that’s something the company is looking into developing, or if you will personally be able to call upon your boss for evaluations at least once a year so you gauge your efforts and determine how to better your position within the company.
No. 3: Is there room for growth?
While you don’t want it to seem like your foot is already out the door before you even start, there’s nothing wrong with asking where most people who have been in your position previously end up moving on to. If the answer is that they’ve mostly been promoted within the company, it stands to reason the company likes to nurture their valuable employees. On the other hand, if it seems like most leave the company to pursue other endeavors elsewhere, that might be a sign that there’s not much room for you within this company past that specific role.
What to do if you don’t like the answer: If moving up the corporate ladder is important to you, this will be an important point to consider. Especially if this will already be somewhat of a lateral move for you, then you may want to reconsider taking a job where a promotion will require another move outside of the company. If the title is already a great step up for you, though, and you know you’ve got some years to put in before you’ll be ready to move again anyway, if everything else about the job fits your goals, it’s probably still a good idea to accept the job.
Question 4: Have you agreed to a job title?
You might not be able to imagine accepting a job without agreeing on a title, but you might be surprised how often this important detail gets overlooked, or changes after the fact. If the job you applied for was more vague in description than you’d like your actual title to be, be sure to bring this up before signing on the dotted line.
What to do if you don’t like the answer: Within reason, your job title is probably one of the more negotiable aspects of accepting a new role. Remember that whatever you start out with will determine your future titles, as well, so be sure to put some thought into what you’d like it be, as well as what other companies within your industry will be looking for when it comes to your skill level and years of experience.
Question 5: Can I have everything in writing?
From your title to your salary to your retirement benefits and time off, it’s a good idea to make sure you have everything in writing before actually starting your job so you have something to refer to if things change for whatever reason once you actually start working.
What to do if you don’t like the answer: There shouldn’t be any problem with getting all the details written down (most places will do so in their offer letter or contract before you formally accept, anyway), but if it’s not offered up, it’s worth asking for one.
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