Rather than quickly jumping on the first job offer you receive, do this

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For many job seekers, receiving a job offer is considered the ultimate success, signaling the end of the job search. However, in reality, receiving an offer prompts a new set of tasks for job seekers, as properly assessing the offer can mean the difference between many years of success in a fulfilling career, or a short-lived stint in a role that turns out to be a miserable fit.

The current strength of the job market has provided candidates with numerous options, allowing them the freedom of not settling for a mediocre offer out of desperation. Many job seekers, particularly those who have been out of work for a long period, may be tempted to accept the first offer they receive without giving it a second thought.

Although the first job offer may turn out to be the right choice, there are still several factors candidates should consider before rushing to accept. Here are a few that could make or break the deal.

Company

It’s always wise for job seekers to research each company they apply to so that they may customize their resume before submitting it and speak intelligently about the company’s products or services in a job interview.

However, most candidates apply to several companies, and once offers do start coming in, further research is needed to evaluate each as a potential employer. Is the company profitable, or is it experiencing financial difficulties? Researching the company’s annual report or its quarterly SEC filing can provide a wealth of knowledge about its financial state.

How about the company’s leaders? Are they trustworthy, or have they been in the news recently for the wrong reasons? A few hours of research before accepting an offer can help prevent current job seekers from becoming future job seekers after joining a failing company. 

Culture

Regardless of a company’s business success or profitability, candidates must determine if they would feel comfortable within the company culture.

What are the values the employer looks for when hiring, and how do current employees embody them? Does the company promote a work hard/play hard mentality with long hours and after-work activities, or does it prioritize family values and encourage work/life balance? Is management supportive and approachable, or do they use fear and threats as a form of motivation?

These types of questions can often be answered by viewing the company’s website and social media pages, reading employer reviews on sites such as Glassdoor, and connecting and speaking with as many current employees as possible, both online and in person.

Salary

While any smart job seeker will look beyond salary for career satisfaction, money is still the backbone of any job offer, for, without it, the offer wouldn’t exist.

Though job seekers may be tempted to accept their first offer and get back to work, it’s important to know what their skills and knowledge are worth in their industry and market to help ensure they will be paid accordingly. Websites such as Salary.com and Glassdoor can provide salary ranges based on job title, duties, industry and location.

Job seekers should also consider factors such as bonuses, commissions, and annual cost-of-living increases. With the U.S. inflation rate typically fluctuating between 1.9 and 2.1 percent annually during the last seven years, candidates who can’t expect similar increases from prospective employers will see their salary diminish in value over time.

Benefits

Benefits and perks are an integral part of any job offer, and in some cases can even compensate for a lower salary.

What kind of medical, dental and vision benefits are offered? What kind of retirement plan does the company provide? How many vacation days, sick days and holidays are provided? Does the prospective employer offer stock options, profit sharing or tuition reimbursement? What about a cell phone, company car, gym membership or daycare facilities?

While it may be unlikely that only one of the above-mentioned benefits would sway a job seeker’s decision to accept an offer when added up and combined with salary, a company’s entire package could easily exceed other offers with higher salaries and fewer benefits or perks.

Career Advancement

The number one reason why employees leave their jobs in search of new opportunities is career advancement or promotional opportunities (32 percent).

While one might think that salary would be the primary motivator, it comes in a distant second (22 percent). If an employer offers a clear path to promotion, training or mentorship opportunities and continuous challenges, those who prioritize career advancement may find this a far greater incentive than salary or benefits.

Also, job seekers who habitually rush to accept job offers that don’t work out may find that poor tenure in their job history could cause other prospective employers to label them as job hoppers and adversely affect their future career plans.

Additional Factors

There are a number of additional factors that could influence a job seeker’s decision about whether or not to accept an offer. How many hours a day or week will the position require? How much travel will be involved? For candidates who prioritize work/life balance, a job that offers a lucrative salary but requires long workdays and extensive travel may not be worth it.

Also, how long will the commute be, and is telecommuting an option? Eliminating a lengthy, stressful drive to and from the office can be a powerful incentive. Finally, is relocation required? Aside from the additional expense that may or may not be included in the job offer, moving to a different city or state requires time and planning, and could present a new set of problems if the job doesn’t last.

Current technology has made it easier than ever before to research prospective employers, as well as their company cultures, salary ranges, benefits and perks, and typical paths they offer for career advancement.

Through social media and employer review sites, job seekers have access to a wealth of information and people who can help them assess job offers before making a decision that could impact the next several years of their career.

While no amount of research can guarantee future career success, those who practice due diligence can help to mitigate their chances of accepting a job offer that’s not a fit, while boosting their chances of career satisfaction and preserving their tenure.

John Feldmann is a Communications Specialist for Insperity Recruiting Services in Houston, TX. With over a decade of marketing and employment branding experience in the recruiting and human resources industries, John specializes in employment- and HR-related content development for a variety of media types in order to communicate Insperity’s brand to both business professionals and job seekers.