Saving Yourself from the Quagmire: You’ve Been Offered a Job—Now What?

With the Department of Labor announcing last week that the national unemployment rate for June was 9.2%, interviews that convert to real job offers might be one of the most highly sought after things out there in the marketplace.

It’s great to get a new job.

What’s not so great is that after you start your new job, you realize you hate it.

While being extended a face-to-face interview is itself a motivating outcome, when interviews evolve into formal job offers, they can be difficult to turn down, particularly if one has already been in transition for months or more and has already undergone the merciless onslaught of seemingly fruitless job search engines. The combined physical, financial and psychological forces just may be too overwhelming to resist spending more than a millisecond before screaming, “Yes! I’m in!”

This is what you’ve been waiting for, right?

Before you sign and drive, hold on a sec. You are now in possession of something very powerful that you weren’t privy to before conquering the interview process: information.

Understanding that a new job is a new commitment, a new environment, and a new workplace with all of its associated nuances in culture, politics, and expectations, your self-reflection based on experiences from the interview itself can be a key process that’s arguably more important than accepting the job.

So don’t just sleep on it. Think through some of these considerations, using what you’ve learned from the interviewers. These may help convince you whether you’re about to end up in the right place or not.

Habits and Behavior
Habits are one element of behavioral DNA that is propagated throughout a company’s culture. This is one of the easiest areas to overlook. Despite how much one may enjoy the actual work itself, the environment in which the work takes place—people, location, work hours, organizational culture—can all greatly enhance or greatly sour your overall experience.

Were you treated professionally during the interview? If you were interviewed by a panel, how did the panel members treat each other? Did the interview feel rushed as if it were someone’s to-do-list item, or did you perceive that interviewing and introducing your talents to the company were sincerely valued by the business? Was your interviewer on time? If your interviewers were going to be your coworkers whom you’d interact with daily, what’s your gut feeling on how well you’d work together?

Definition
Is your role actually defined? Are there specific responsibilities that you will be measured against? What are they? More than just a job description—what are your specific responsibilities to the organization? What does success look like in this new role and how will you know that you’re delivering it?

Growth
What are the opportunities for growth in the organization? What specific skills will you be bringing to the group? Will this be a place where your unique areas of expertise can contribute to furthering both your career as well as the organization’s objectives? What happened to the careers of your predecessors in the role you'll be taking? Did they get promoted up into the organization? Did they leave the organization to pursue interests elsewhere? If the role you're being hired for is an entirely new role, what are the prospects for its growth within the organization?

Onboarding
What does the onboarding process look like? Who would be training you for your job and how long can you anticipate the training to take place? This is particularly important for roles in which a specific level of qualification or certification in a given area is directly linked to your earning power.

If you need clarification after some quality self-reflection time, you can always contact the hiring organization to get some additional questions answered. Take advantage of this dialog while it’s still yours to have.

You’ve already been offered the role—understanding what the opportunity means for you holistically might save you from the quagmire of being in a place you wish you weren’t.

Published July 13, 2011 by Austin Lin

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of and should not be attributable to the National Society of Professional Engineers.

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