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Advice / Job Search / Job Offer

5 Last Things to Consider Before Accepting an Offer

You spent days mulling over your resume, weeks waiting for a response, and long, silent pauses mentally articulating each interview answer—all before enduring another seemingly endless wait to hear back about the potential position.

But the minute you receive an offer, everything is full speed ahead. Once your potential employer wants you to put a signature on that line, things start moving fast. And why would you hesitate? This is the moment you’ve been working and waiting for—you’ve finally landed an awesome job.

For the most part, you’re probably ready to make a decision. By now, you’ve likely talked to your future boss, gauged the office culture, and asked about your responsibilities and how your success will be measured.

What’s left? Well, accepting a new job is a big decision—and you don’t want to find yourself regretting your decision just a few months down the road. So, before you pounce on that new role, slow down and consider these last few factors to make sure you’re 100% confident in your decision.

1. Is There Anything Else You Want to Negotiate?

If you’re ready to sign on the dotted line, you’ve probably already negotiated your salary (and if you haven’t, what’s stopping you?). But don’t forget that, depending on your situation, you may be able to adjust your offer in other ways.

For example, maybe you just received an offer at a startup that’s just getting off the ground—and the base salary is just so-so. Before you make a decision either way, think about other factors that could tip the scales, like flexible work hours or profit sharing once the company hits a specified benchmark.

There are also possibilities in the corporate world—like relocation assistance or the option to occasionally work remotely. Either way, if you’re hesitating because of your compensation, make sure to consider all of your options.

2. Is There Anything About Your Compensation Package That You Don’t Understand?

When I was first offered a startup job, the compensation package stated that it included profit sharing, but didn’t specify what that meant, when it would start, or how it would get paid. (And because of that, I never actually saw a percentage of those profits.)

It was also part of a confusing list of benefits that were each given a cash value and added to the total proposed salary at the bottom of the page—including bi-weekly apartment cleanings ($4,000 value) and a business cell phone ($1,000 value). They were presented as dollar amounts added into my salary (which made it appear enticing), but in reality, they wouldn’t actually show up in my paycheck.

In the excitement of getting a job offer, it’s tempting to gloss over these slightly confusing details, assuming that you’ll figure everything out later on down the road. But when it’s not spelled out in solid terms—or you don’t understand it completely—it can work against you when your expectations aren’t met.

3. Do the Benefits Fit Your Needs?

If you haven’t seen the details of the company’s benefits package, ask for more information. I’ve experienced both sides of this—for one job, I was given an entire packet of information, detailing exactly what was covered, co-pays, deductibles, and so on. For another job, I didn’t receive any benefits information until after I’d already signed the offer letter.

But by asking for the information beforehand, you can make sure you get what you need, whether that means full coverage for your spouse or children or enough notice for you to purchase your own independent health insurance plan. (And it can help you realize if you won’t be getting what you need—like health coverage or retirement.)

4. Are You Ready for That Commute?

For my first job out of college, I had a 30-minute commute, which I didn’t think was too bad for a city like Atlanta.

Unfortunately, I’d gauged the half-hour commute on a weekend, when I had my interview. When I started making the trip during regular work hours, it easily turned into more (sometimes way more) than an hour. It was terrible—and it ended up playing a big role in my decision to move on from that job.

Before you make your final decision, evaluate how it will affect your daily routine. For some, an hour commute may be worth it for that dream job or to live on a big piece of land out in the country. For others, that trip will drive you crazy—and eventually erode your job satisfaction.

5. Is the Timing Right?

It may be a small detail, but make sure to consider when, should you make that decision, you’ll begin your new job. Your future employer is probably eager to get you on board as soon as possible—but is it possible for you?

When I started my current job, I wanted to put in my two weeks’ notice and start the new gig as quickly as possible in order to make the best first impression. (I was also fully convinced that asking for a start date more than two weeks out would result in the company revoking the offer.)

What I didn’t take into consideration was that my new job required me to move across the state. So, while I was finishing out a job in one city, I was remotely searching for apartments in a city two hours away—and when I found one, my lease didn’t allow me to move into it until a week after I was slated to start my new job. If I’d thought ahead, I would have given myself another week to make the move without feeling rushed

The point is, figure out what is truly realistic for you, and don’t be afraid to ask for it. (It makes a big difference!)

By now, you should have all the information you need to make a well-informed decision. Maybe, after addressing all your concerns with the hiring manager or HR, this job just doesn’t feel right. Or maybe everything checks out, and you can’t wait to get started. Either way, don’t be afraid to trust your gut (and your carefully collected information, of course).

Photo of person signing courtesy of Shutterstock.