People often say that looking for a new job feels like a job in itself. There’s certainly a lot of work that goes into the process – preparing your CV, searching for the right roles, applying for them, and of course interviewing.
Once you get an offer at the end of it though, it can all feel worthwhile. There’s also a great sense of pride and validation, knowing that an employer recognises your abilities.
However, the next step can sometimes feel as tricky as anything that’s gone before it. It’s not always a case of accepting an offer within minutes of receiving it. There’s lots of things to think about, and in this blog we’ll go through some of them.
Knowing if the job is right for you
This is usually the first question that will pop into your head. It’s something that will probably have been bubbling away throughout the process, but comes to the forefront when you actually receive an offer.
Knowing the answer to this isn’t always easy – every new job is a step into the unknown – but there are some things you can do to help you make the right decision.
Draw up a list of what you were looking for in your next job, and see how many boxes this role ticks. Key things to consider are:
Analyse exactly what you’ll be taking home after tax each month. There are some useful online tools that can help you with this, such as the ones offered by The Salary Calculator or MoneySavingExpert. It’s important to not just look at the top line salary though. Pay attention to any benefits you’re getting too, as these all contribute to your total reward package. Things like subsidised travel, shopping discounts or private medical insurance can have a massive impact on your life and finances.
What hours or shift patterns does this job entail, and does that fit with your needs? Some jobs may have set hours, but require you to work outside of these on a regular basis. Check this and decide whether it works for you.
Consider how far you would have to travel in order to get to your workplace, and whether this is reasonable for you.Is there a lot of additional travel involved, for things like client meetings or site visits? Also check what the company’s level of flexibility is with regards to remote working. This is a hot topic right now, and many businesses are starting to offer hybrid or fully remote working models, where you can work from home for part of the week or even full-time. Of course, this depends on the nature of your work – if you’re on a construction site for example, working from home won’t be an option.
Either way, make sure you are happy with what is being offered and your work-life balance won’t feel compromised.
You should have gleaned this during the application process – both on the job advert and through the questions you asked in the interview. Note these down and ask yourself if you’ll enjoy the tasks you’ll do. Will the work stimulate you and will it add value to your CV?
Ideally you want to pick up some new skills and experience, as this will enhance your CV and help when looking for your next role – either within the same company or outside it. That leads us nicely onto the next thing to consider.
This is something else you should have picked up during the interview, but don’t be afraid to speak to the hiring manager again to clarify.
Are there opportunities for you to advance within the company? You don’t want to be in a position where you feel like you’ve outgrown your role in under a year. Look at how many people within the business – especially in your department – have moved up. This is a good way to gauge how committed the company is to the development of its employees.
A key part of deciding whether a job is right for you is seeing how well their culture aligns with what you want. Do you prefer a corporate environment or something a little more casual? Do you like working in a team or are you more autonomous? Is socialising at work also important to you?
These are all things which will help you determine how good the cultural fit is. Look at reviews on sites such as Glassdoor for assistance. Remember, a job is a major part of anyone’s life, so it’s important you’ll feel comfortable and happy in any new company.
On a related note, ask yourself how well aligned you are with what the company does. You should have answered this question before you even applied, but it’s worth jotting down again at this stage as well. Do you believe in their product or service? Can you see yourself being a passionate advocate for them? If the answer is yes, then this is a major plus.
Negotiating a salary
Maybe most of your boxes have been ticked, but the offered salary is lower than expected.
The first point to remember is that if there’s a massive discrepancy between the salary which was advertised and the one you’re being offered, then this is a red flag. It may be an administrative error - perhaps the job advert had the wrong figure – but make sure you raise this with them. If they don’t seem to have a good reason, then you’d be well within your rights to walk away (more on this later).
However, in most cases, being offered a lower salary than you expecteddoesn’t have to mean it’s a firm no. Salary negotiations are quite common, but it’s important that you do this in a professional way and can back up what you’re saying.
Don’t just ask for a higher salary – build a case. Conduct some research and see what the market rates for roles like yours are. Feel free to send over links to job adverts, and even download a salary trends report for the industry (recruitment agencies often publish these every year).
Highlight your strengths, skills, and experience to show why you deserve more. Do you have any specific qualifications or certifications which will improve your ability to succeed?
Make sure your tone is positive and constructive at all times. Don’t think you have to be aggressive and hard-nosed, as the company won’t appreciate this at all. Always emphasise how keen you are to work for the company, while having confidence in your own worth.
While negotiations may be done on the phone or face-to-face, it’s important to get everything down in writing. As soon as you come to an agreement, ask for this to be amended on the offer letter and resent.
Understanding your contract
We live in a world where people often ‘accept’ terms and conditions without actually reading them. This should never happen when it comes to an employment contract though. Take the time to read it thoroughly – if you need a couple of extra days to do so then just let the company know. Most will understand how important this is so won’t have a problem.
Unless you’re applying for a very senior position at C-Suite level, you shouldn’t need a professional lawyer to look at the contract. In most cases, you can use the company themselves to help you out. Speak to their HR department and ask if you can arrange a call or meeting with them to go over it. Bring up anything you’re unsure about, whether it’s benefits information, employment jargon or specific clauses or wording.
There are also some free and useful resources online which can help you with understanding your contract, such as ACAS.
Aside from your pay and benefits, some of the key things to look at in a contract are probation periods and the termination process. Make sure you understand these fully. Also look at whether there are any restrictions upon future employment – some companies may prevent you from moving to a competitor for a certain period of time by putting you on gardening leave.
If there are things you aren’t comfortable with, speak to HR to see if there is any leeway. Most things which are company policy (such as sick pay, maternity pay and paternity pay) are unlikely to be changed, but there are things specific to you which they might be flexible on. For example, you may be able to negotiate some more days’ annual leave, although this would have to be at the discretion of your manager or director.
Understanding the screening process
Even signing a contract isn’t the end of the process. There may be certain things that the employer needs to do, such as reference checks, background checks and medical examinations. Make sure you’ve understood what these are and have prepared for them.
It’sa good idea to contact people who you’ve put down as a reference and let them know what’s coming. Although most reference checks are seen as box-ticking exercises, sometimes offers can be withdrawn at this stage.
Large corporate companies can have very lengthy verification processes, sometimes conducted by teams in a different country. They may want company addresses and phone numbers of referees, not just email addresses, so gather these in advance. Some also ask for proof of qualifications, especially for graduate roles or highly specialised positions, such as those in scientific or technical sectors.
How to say no in the right way
You may have gone through the checklist at the start of this blog and decided to decline the job offer. Alternatively, you may have tried to negotiate a better package but been unsuccessful. Whatever your reasons are, be polite and respectful to both the company and the hiring manager. This will help maintain a positive relationship with them, which you may need at some point in your career.
Speak to them over the phone, as this is more courteous than doing it over email. If they ask you to also put it in writing though, then you should do so.
Express your appreciation for the offer, as well as your reasons for declining it. A word of caution however – if your reason for turning down the job is something which may offend them (for example if you didn’t like the hiring manager’s personality), you may be better off leaving this out.
They may also ask you for general feedback on the recruitment process – for example the number of interviews, or the ease of the application website. Be honest and open with them; they will appreciate your input.
Getting a job offer is an excellent achievement, and one that may initially give you a rush of adrenalin. But just as it took a lot of preparation and analysis to get this far, you should take a breath before going any further. Ask yourself the right questions, do your due diligence, and make a decision that you feel is best for your career.