The 3 Questions You Need To Ask Yourself When Considering A Job Offer
It's been almost a year since I began job searching for the first time. I remember my apprehension, confusion and excitement like it was yesterday.
Landing your first job is a milestone you won't soon forget, no matter whether it ends up being a positive or negative experience. One thing that sticks out in my mind is the sheer amount of information that's put out to recent grads and young professionals about job hunting.
A simple Google search will reveal thousands of results detailing how to perfect your resume, nail a cover letter and land a final interview. After being in the “real world” for only a year, I can assure you that these things are important: to an extent.
The glaring problem with this type of advice is it tells young professionals how to talk, what to write and where to work. Job hunting blogs are filled with employer-centric “tips and tricks” that will do little for you in the end. After freelancing, working in corporate America and being a part of a five-person startup, here are three things I wish I would've asked myself instead of editing my resume daily.
1. Where do you want to work?
This seems like a no-brainer, and it is. But it's an obvious question for a not-so-obvious purpose. My college mind had blinders on when it came to what it really meant to work 40 hours a week in an office setting. Not for one second did I consider or question potential employers about their office vibe.
Turns out, I hate the traditional office model.
I advise you to ask yourself what matters to you in a work environment. Things like free office coffee, dedicated work spaces and hour-long lunches may seem minute compared to your annual salary. I can assure you, however, that these things matter.
You spend an overwhelming majority of your time with the people you work with. In most cases, you're in the same office. Make sure it's somewhere you want to be.
Here are a few of my examples to help you carve out your own workplace environment requirements:
- Casual dress (with the exception of client meetings)
- Flexible scheduling (work start and end times)
- Office kitchenette (microwave, mini fridge, coffee maker)
- Proximity to lunch options (walkability, proximity to takeout and restaurants)
If you aren't 100 percent remote, then your office will matter. It can make or break a job. Often times, startups can't offer you traditional corporate benefits. However, bear in mind that to make up for this, they tend to offer free snacks, office game rooms and major flexibility.
On the other hand, corporate positions may not be so cool with hour-long lunch breaks or quick, 15-minute walks to refresh your mind.
Take some time to consider the company culture you want to be immersed in. Don't put these questions off for the final interview. I'm here to tell you they matter.
2. What do you care about?
Yep, this is another question that's seemingly basic. However, it also has a deeper meaning.
Keep in mind that this is different from the prior question. Most office conditions like the list above are either yes or no boxes to check off a list. What you care about is less tangible and harder to write out on paper.
I personally care about a certain form of leadership that motivates and inspires me. I've been in situations where, as the “new girl,” I've either brought a new perspective or improved a process that invigorated the team.
The downside in that situation was I didn't get anything in return. The team didn't inspire, motivate or improve upon me in the same ways.
Understand that office culture is not a one-way street. Yes, asking about office culture can be way more intimidating than asking if you can dress casually on Fridays. When you do ask, though, you'll be able to tell which companies value it and which don't quite have it figured out yet.
3. How do you want to progress?
I wish someone would have clued me into what exactly a job title means. A year ago, I had no comprehension of the difference between an assistant, coordinator or leader. They all sounded conveniently similar, which led me to waste valuable time and effort.
Team structures vary across companies, regions and industries. So, it makes sense that even a seasoned professional might get turned around while finding a job or meeting expectations in his or her current position.
My first job was an assistant role, and I was under the impression that I could work my way up the department. What I didn't ask in my interviews was what the job outlook was for the next year.
I got a brief overview of the team structure, but I didn't fully understand it until after I signed the dotted line. You need to understand these terms because they often mean wildly different things to different people. Ask your potential employer what your title means to the company.
If you don't, you might end up in a position like mine. You'll just be filing paperwork and hating life.
Don't be afraid to be curious about a potential job. Employers (no matter the industry) love speaking about their organization and where it's headed. I promise you that you'll be thankful you found out exactly what your title meant before you accepted the offer.