What should I look out for before accepting a job offer?

Trace has been established for 7 years. We are an Accountancy & Finance Recruitment Consultancy, and work with Qualified Accountants across a varied client base in Industry, Financial Services and Not-for-Profit. From experience we know that getting a job offer is an exciting part of the process for all concerned.

We wanted to share some thoughts and advice, from our experience, on what to look out for, reflect on, and consider before accepting an job offer.

Please remember that an interview isn’t just an opportunity for the interviewer to get an understanding on whether you are a good fit for the role and the organisation but also an opportunity for you to find out if the role and organisation are a good fit for you and your career aspirations.

If you have been offered a job, it is tempting to accept immediately, but you should take a deep breath and carefully consider whether it is the right decision for you. Here are some factors to think about before you accept a job offer and some signs of what to lookout for.

  1. Big promises

It is safe to say that some things that sound too good to be true usually are!

It’s one thing for a prospective employer to detail the type of career growth they foresee being associated with a position–that’s something you’ll always want to know. But it’s another for that description to sound a little too good to be true. Be weary of an employer that makes promises that sound even slightly out of range for what their organisation could reasonably provide. If you’ve done your research on the company, you’ll have a strong sense of what those limits might be. If their enthusiasm for you seems to go overboard . . . take note!

Listen out for flattery, even of the underhanded kind! If their enthusiasm for you seems to go overboard, as though bringing you on board would be the best thing that ever happened to their organisation–take note!

  1. Gaps between the opportunity and your personal goals

People take jobs for many wrong reasons: more money, to get away from a job they hate, or just needing to try something new. So while you’re caught up analysing the potential opportunities of accepting this offer, it’s easy to lose sight of your own goals.

Reflect on your own ambitions and passions as though this job didn’t exist. Write them down. Then go back to the offer: Will it move you closer to them or further away? Or more to the point: How many of your goals will this job satisfy, and how much, and how many might it steer you away from? Like much in life, the answer is usually a mixed bag, and that is fine.

This job doesn’t have to be your dream job, but in order for you to take it, the role does need to provide you with a stepping stone to help you reach your goals. If this isn’t the case, you could be wasting your time and this could set you back in the long run. An amazing opportunity may not be the most amazing opportunity for you. So don’t lose sight of your own goals!

  1. High company turnover

This is definitely a red flag and something to look out for and try to learn more about! Again, do your research; check out LinkedIn, Glassdoor, to see if you can find out from former employees why people leave. You can see reviews that people have written on Glassdoor. Also, in the interview, this is a good opportunity to find out about the last person who held the position. A high staff turnover could mean a negative or even toxic company culture that you will not want to be part of. No matter how good the offer may sound, always weigh it carefully if you know that staff tend to move on quite quickly.

  1. Company reputation

It is important to Google the company; here you may find information or news on the organisation. This could be good or bad! Ask about who the company has dealt with and not just former and current employees; what they think, and consider their opinions. Customers and their clients are a good source of information. Also, take a look at their social networking sites! Your own reputation will be linked with your employer’s by association, so make sure you consider whether you can stand behind the brand.

  1. Unprofessional behaviour

Is the employer late for the interview? Are there people attending the interview that you weren’t told would be there? Does no one apologise or explain these surprises? Is the hiring manager dressed inappropriately for an interview? Are you asked personal questions that shouldn’t be part of an interview? Do they call or text you after working hours? Have they contacted someone at your former workplace–somebody who isn’t a reference, before asking you first? This could be a result of a weak organisation, a lack of integrity, or a lack of respect for you. Regardless, it should raise alarm bells about the values and ethics of the organisation.

As mentioned before, this is an opportunity for you to see if this company and role is the one for you and this is just as important as it is for the employer seeing if you are a good fit for them!

  1. Unanswered questions

Whenever you are interviewing for a position, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask tough questions–about the last person in the role, the company’s turnover rate, how performance is judged and promotions are given out. Don’t just listen for the answers though; listen for any hesitation on the employer’s part in answering them.

If a hiring manger or HR contact seems like they’re trying to hide something or doesn’t get back to you over your request for information, politely push back. Any company you want to work for is open, transparent, and has nothing to hide!

  1. Mismatched work-life balance expectations

This may be important to you and you may want to have weekends and evenings to spend with your family, but your boss expects you to put their needs first. The job offer may include some great benefits like generous parental leave, flexible hours, or annual leave, but you may find that the work culture doesn’t encourage you to use them. Be very clear about your expectations from the start so you can avoid getting into a work situation you end up regretting.

  1. Are you able to build rapport with who could be your potential boss?

Do you feel like you were able to build rapport with the person interviewing you or the person who could potentially be your boss? Do you believe that you can build a relationship with this person based on how your conversation went? Is this someone you see yourself getting on with? This is a very important point to consider as the relationship you have with your boss can make a big difference to how you feel at work.

Also, do you believe that the professional level between you and this person is enough? Will this give you enough room to progress? Is there scope to progress within the business? Is your potential boss someone who encourages personal development?

It is important to outline what you are looking for in the long run and if progression is a big deal to you it might be worth asking your boss if this is something that is encouraged. Have other people within the same position progressed? This will give you a good indicator as to whether this is something the organisation encourages.

It’s never easy to look at a job offer critically, especially when you’ve been asked to make a decision in a few days. But if you’ve learned a few new things in the recruitment process that you didn’t initially know, there’s always time to do more digging. Have a close look at anything you unearth before saying yes.

Do your research! Ask lots of questions! And take time to think things through. Try not to feel pressured into making an instant decision!