Considering the stresses of the job search, it's not surprising that job seekers are often tempted to jump at the first offer they receive.
But before you decide to commit yourself to a job that will occupy most of your waking hours, invest a little quiet thought in the opportunity and its potential to affect your life.
Consider these nine questions before you accept any work, whether it's temporary, full or part time.
1.Will this job enhance or expand your focus on your career?
Is this just to pay the bills? Not a problem. We all have to make money. But level with yourself up front. Ideally you can find something redeeming and useful in the work, even if it's only to buy you some freedom to keep your "dream-job" search on track.
2. If it's not a dream job, will it interfere with your continuing efforts to find one?
Until you've landed a job you love, I would suggest that you make finding it your second job. That might mean taking an hour every evening and a few more over weekends to pursue education, contacts and experience in your field of interest. If you accept the job that's on the table, will you have the discipline to carve out the time to keep that "second job" going? Don't lock a door with no way out.
3. Will you enjoy what you're doing?
Even if you've admitted to yourself that this job is simply for cash, can you find a way to enjoy it? It may require a little imagination, but the energy you invest can reap unexpected benefits - if only for your state of mind.
4. Do you have the skills and aptitude to succeed?
The old adage "fake it until you make it" works sometimes, but you don't want to give yourself yet another self-esteem blow by getting in way over your head and setting yourself up for failure. Find a mentor either within or outside the organization, join professional or trade associations in the field, and do tons of research.
5. Are there clear, attainable benchmarks for success?
You must know what success looks like. Before you take the job, verify that it comes with achievable metrics for success. If there are no outlined standards of accomplishment, partner with your employer to create them.
6. Can you make a real contribution?
Do you see opportunities to exceed those basic benchmarks? If you see a path that allows you to excel, you stand a much better chance of proving your value for the long term.
7. Have you thoroughly investigated the opportunity and company?
Use the wisdom of your professional network as well as your own research to inform your decision.
How stable is the company/position? You don't want to sideline your job search for a position that's transitory. Do your industry research, and don't be afraid to ask tough questions about the company's recent performance and the circumstances that created the opening you're being asked to fill. Why is the position open? How secure is your prospective boss in his position?
8. Will you get on well with your boss and colleagues?
It's unlikely that you'll get an offer unless prospective colleagues believe they can get along well with you. But behind your game-face likeability and confidence, how do you really feel about the people with whom you'll be working? How about the work environment? Better to be truthful with yourself and ask the appropriate questions now than to ignore the issue.
9. Is the compensation competitive and commensurate?
Consider all the benefits, including base salary, bonuses, vacation time, flex time and the frequency of compensation reviews. Find win-win ways to ensure you will feel adequately appreciated for what you provide. If both you and the company are meant for a long-term relationship, you should be able to find common ground on these issues.