|Martin Yate CPC
NY Times Bestseller
35 Years in
Having a job offer to consider is one thing, but deciding if the job is right for you is another. If you are a person who had accepted a job without thinking only to realize, once the honeymoon was over, that you had made a terrible mistake, you wouldn’t be the first. Wouldn’t it be great if you could ask questions that would raise red flags about a potential bad fit, perhaps averting a catastrophe? Asking the right questions now can increase the chances that your next strategic career move will be a smart move professionally and a fulfilling experience personally. You will want to evaluate:
- How the size and culture of this company will impact your goals.
- How the skills developed on this job will impact your next job search.
- How your manager’s performance expectations and evaluations be communicated.
- The professional development path for this job and how others moved along it.
- Who succeeds, who fails…and why.
- How the company and this manager are known to treat employees.
What’s in it for you over the long haul?
The first and most important consideration is how will accepting this job affect your ability to get the next job? The odds are that this won’t be your last job change, so it’s important to determine if you are going to learn anything new that adds to your marketability next time you look for a job. Constant technological advances means that the skills you need to stay marketable—no matter what you do for a living—need to be in a state of ongoing development. If the opportunity you are considering does not afford you the opportunity to develop new, in-demand skills every year, it could be a dead-end job that will become increasingly difficult to leave as your skills become less and less marketable to other employers. Is bigger always better?
Consider the impact of company size. There are advantages and disadvantages to both big and small companies.
With bigger companies, the benefits can be better, and you may get the opportunity to specialize, sometimes developing deep expertise in one specific area. Of course, deep expertise in one specific area will only help your career if those skills are in demand and likely to stay that way. There’s greater likelihood of ongoing professional education, which accelerates your skill development, and the very size of the company provides opportunity for growth.
On the downside, there is more likelihood that you’ll be spending the majority of your time working with peers, so that the tools of your growth will stem largely from training unless you make it a priority to build mentor relationships with more experienced colleagues.
With smaller companies, everyone tends to wear more than one hat, so you’re more likely to develop a wider range of skills than deep expertise in one specific area. You’ll find greater opportunity for working with more experienced people on a daily basis, but you’ll still need to seek out and nurture those mentor relationships.
On the downside, it’s quite possible that benefits will be less comprehensive, and there will very likely be less formal training programs. However, you can probably still get the training you need by asking for it. And while you do have the opportunity to stand out and become more rapidly credible and visible, you won’t have the same opportunity for steady upward progress.
Ask targeted questions
Once a job offer is on the table you will need to ask the questions that can help you make evaluations on the above issues. When these have been addressed, there are also questions about responsibilities and performance that you’ll want answered before making a decision.
- What are the projects/responsibilities that will take up the majority of your time every day?
- How does management prefer these responsibilities/projects to be executed?
- How will success/failure be judged?
- What feedback/direction/coaching can you expect to insure that your efforts are on track?
- How is your performance judged on a daily and weekly basis? How can you get feedback? How will it be delivered?
- What would this manager like you to have achieved at end of thirty days? Sixty days? Ninety days?
- Who succeeds, who fails and why?
Be a discreet skeptic
You will also want to find out how the company and your new manager are known to treat employees. You do this by finding connections on LinkedIn who work or have worked at this company. Talk to them about the company, job, department, and the manager. A few questions and some intelligent research today can save you from having to live with the consequences of a bad choice.
You can find over one hundred questions to ask during final negotiations in Knock ’em Dead Secrets & Strategies for Success, advice on how to start on the right foot, make the job secure and win promotions.