The New York Times published a piece titled “13 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Getting Married.” And since a job is a marriage of sorts, we started thinking about 13 questions you should really ask yourself before accepting a job. We aren’t talking first jobs, but career makers. The kind you stick with for the long-haul, through thick, through thin, through sickness and in health; marriage material kind of jobs. It’s a mistake to accept a position with the intention of leaving.
In the same way that hiring mistakes can be very costly, the same can be said for accepting the wrong offer. If the position is not the right fit, you are going to end up on job boards and sending out résumés all over again. While landing a job is tough, accepting the wrong position can be detrimental to your career. We’re thinking long distance, not sprints.
1. Started from the bottom, now you’re where?
Is there room for growth? If for instance, you’re starting as an assistant, is the company prone to promote from within? Before accepting, make sure there is a “here” to get to.
A good way to figure this out is to check out the following:
2. What’s the turnover rate for employees?
With a little research, it’s easy to find how long the oldest employee has been at the company. If the turnover rate is incredibly high, or the oldest employee has only been working there a year, consider why this might be the case.
Are there employees who started in your current offered position? Where are they now?
3. Do you want your boss’s job?
This is a tricky question to answer.
Because sure, the idea of being the boss might seem illustriously tempting to you, but taking your boss’s job should not be the end goal. Excel at your position and work to be promoted, sure, but your takeover strategy shouldn’t revolve around taking over someone else’s position.
4. Are you willing to work weekends? Nights? Early AMs?
What kind of hours are you willing to clock? For most of us, the 40-hour workweek myth is just that. So think about how you’re going to feel when you get an email from your boss on a Sunday.
Do you need a position that has a clear clock-in and clock-out, or are you comfortable with stress-related rapid-fire texts from your boss on the weekend? (They happen. They’re real.) Your heart needs to be in it, in order to win it.
5. Could your boss double as a mentor?
Is your potential boss someone you admire and respect? At least from the outside. Unlike a relationship or marriage, it’s impossible to predict how well you will work with someone—especially during crunch time or in high-stress, high-pressure situations, before you work with them.
So do the research. What kind of reputation does your boss have? How do the current employees seem to feel about their jobs? When you went in for your interview, what did the office environment feel like? Was it sunshine and butterflies and rainbows or were there grumpy cat rainclouds above everyone’s desk?
Working well with someone who is “bossing” you is a major factor to consider.
6. Will you be challenged?
Forget a cushy job. At this point in your career, you should desire a position that grows your skills and expands your offerings as an employee—just in case you wind up having to divorce this position.
If you know you’ll be able to set goals to outperform yourself, you will not only make yourself invaluable to the company, but you’ll also be making an investment in your future that will pay in dividends.
7. Will you resent your salary in six months?
It’s very rare to be head-over-heels in love with your salary from the start, but around 40% of women report being unsatisfied with their current pay. It’s one thing to accept a salary or wage that is below asking, it’s another to accept a wage that is well beneath you.
You’ll end up angry, frustrated, and ultimately, less productive.
8. Are there benefits?
Health care costs add up, and they are something you should factor into your decision. Don’t get blind-sighted by the salary without considering other costs you may incur on your own.
Most companies that offer benefits do so after 90 days. Be sure to ask what the company policy is, and if they don’t have benefits, check out our post on how to negotiate benefits.
9. Is it corporate, startup, or freelance? And is the environment right for you?
You know you best. So when it comes to choosing the right office culture, think hard. The corporate job might pay more, but are you going to become frustrated and disillusioned when every idea you have has to be vetted by ten people up the ladder? Are you willing to commit to the kind of hours a startup requires?
If you’re accepting a freelance job make sure to set parameters before committing. Don’t accept a job where the expectations are so high, you’re primed for failure.
10. What’s your commute?
The average U.S. worker commutes approximately 26 minutes to work each day. Could you imagine commuting more than that?
Here’s the rub. Most employees are spending much more on commuting than they realize. From gas to maintenance, it’s an important factor to consider in the long-run.
A nasty commute can contribute to a nasty attitude. If you’re spending over an hour in the car in the AM, you’re not going to arrive at the office bright, cheery, and ready to put in work.
11. What are the potential problems?
As with any relationship, there will be issues. Outline what you think they will be—from long hours to travel complications to communication issues, and be honest with yourself if they are problems you can accept.
Once you accept them, don’t moan and groan when they crop up.
12. Have you checked out Glassdoor?
With a database of millions of company reviews, CEO-approval ratings, and salary reports, you can do a bit of online shopping before you buy into the company.
13. Is this your dream J-O-B?
By all means, what are you waiting for? Sign that offer letter and get ready for a lifetime of career happiness. (But also remember, that it’s when the dream becomes a reality, the real work starts.)
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This story was originally published on April 4, 2016, and has since been updated.