Woman celebrating a job offer
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6 questions you need to ask before accepting a job offer

12 Jun 2017

You’ve just been offered a new job. Congratulations! Time to sign contracts, right? Well, maybe not just yet.

The job search can be a tortuous journey. For many, it can be weeks, sometimes months, of sending out CVs and attending interviews with little or no success.

Some job applications may not even reply or go beyond the CV stage. For others, you may end up in the final stages of the process, only to fall at the final hurdle and be back at square one.

Future Human

So, when that glorious job offer finally does arrive, it can be hard to contain your excitement and not jump at the chance to say yes, sign contracts and start buying new clothes and stationery for your first day.

But, before you commit, you need to make sure it’s the right one. You might feel like you’re not in a position to be picky, but there’s a big difference between being picky and making the right choice for you.

Start by asking the necessary questions and then decide whether or not you’re happy to take the job. A job offer is only good if it’s not going to have a negative impact on you in the long run.

Ask about salary and career progression

The start of a job is the easiest point at which to negotiate your salary. Some industries can be more difficult than others when determining how your offer compares to the average, but try and figure out where you fall on the scale and decide if you’re happy with your offer.

Once you’re comfortable with the salary, it’s time to talk increases and progression. It might feel a little presumptuous of you to ask about when you’re going to move up the ladder, but you need to know that there’s somewhere for you to go from your first position. What goal are you striving towards? Is your only route for progression to move out of the company?

Ask about working hours and flexibility

Naturally, you’ll need to know what your working hours will be like.

However, it’s not as simple as finding out that you’ll work regular office hours, Monday to Friday. You need to ask how flexible your company is about that. Could you leave early for an evening class one day a week by coming in early? Is it OK to pop out for an appointment if you make up the hours?

Aside from your expectations of flexibility, you also need to know if you’ll have to work weekends at any stage. Will there be overtime in the run-up to big projects? Will you be paid extra for this? Do you get the time back in your holidays?

Ask about communication expectations

By communication expectations, we mean emails, phone calls or texts that arrive outside of office hours. The hours your company expects you to be contactable can be quite different to the hours you’re expected to be at your desk.

Ask if it’s OK to ignore emails that come in over the weekend, or what level of expectation there is for you to be ‘on call’ during your days off, or even on your lunch break.

Switching off from work is important for a healthy work-life balance, so if you’re required to have your work email on your phone, that might be a deal-breaker.

Ask about working remotely

You’re not asking because you want to work from bed every day, and knowing what kind of systems are in place when it comes to working remotely are important.

Depending on where you live or your family situation, working from home might be an essential part of your job offer, and having that option is important to establish from the start.

It’s also important to ask at this point and not a month in, when you haven’t been properly set up to do so. Due to issues with system security and file accessibility, it may not be a matter of just switching on your laptop at home. It’s better that your company knows about your IT needs as early as possible.

Ask about your targets and goals

Knowing what’s expected of you is one of the most vital parts of accepting the job offer.

You probably have an idea of what the role entails based on the original job ad, and you may have gleaned a little more information from the interview, but do you know what you’ll have to do in the first few days, weeks and months of the job? Do you know what goals you’re expected to reach?

This question goes hand in hand with career progression. If your potential new employer has told you about how you can progress and receive salary increases, you need to know how to achieve that with tangible goals.

Ask yourself if you’re excited

This one is probably the most crucial, and a question you can only answer yourself. Are you excited about the job?

You must be able to tell the difference between being excited about the job itself or just the job offer. Like we said, the search can be soul-destroying and finally being offered a job – any job – can be exciting all by itself, no matter what it is.

However, when the time comes to actually accept the offer in front of you, you have to make sure you’re excited about this particular role and the work you’re going to be doing every day.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the deputy editor of Silicon Republic in 2020, having worked as the careers editor until June 2019. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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