Your job search preparation pays when a company offers you a job. If you are certain about the job offer, accept it on the spot. Just be sure that you understand the conditions and elements of the job before you accept. If you are uncertain about a job offer, evaluate it. Doing so takes some experience and practice. So you’ll want to be prepared for handling this aspect of the job hunting process.

Job offers are made by telephone, by letter, or in person. If the offer is made by letter, you have time to think it over more carefully and less emotionally than you would if you received it by telephone or in person. If the offer is made by telephone or in the interviewer’s office, you’ll want to respond appropriately. It’s best to request some time to think the offer over and to ask any questions that immediately come to mind regarding the information you are provided.

If you object to any aspect of the offer (the salary, for example), be prepared to negotiate this aspect with the company. If you are indeed the candidate the company wants and if the company does not want to interview additional applicants or the ‘second choice’ candidate, the interviewer may negotiate this aspect, or other aspects of the offer, with you. If you dislike the salary offered, be prepared to specify the salary you would accept and to reaffirm your interest in the job. Take your lead from the employer as to whether the salary is negotiable.

Upon receiving an offer you may find it beneficial to discuss the job offer conditions with a family member, members of your support system, or other trusted people. You do however want to respond to the offer quickly so that you don’t jeopardize it, but it is certainly appropriate to request some time to think it over. It is in your best interest to take a day or two to consider the job offer.

Now let’s turn to the question of how to determine what a ‘good’ job offer is. You’re in the best position to decide this. Your first job will position you for future career success, so be certain that you determine whether this is your best fit in a number of areas. Many factors affect your decision. Review the following questions to help you decide.

Those major areas that you should be concerned about include the following:

  • ·         Scope of the job
  • ·         Organization and personnel
  • ·         How the job meets your goals
  • ·         Salary, benefits, and potential for increased salary
  • ·         Opportunities for your professional growth
  • ·         Values and philosophies of management
  • ·         Geographic conditions (relocation and/or travel requirements).

When offered a position, proceed professionally. Write down your responses to these questions and to any that you think you need to add. When you finish, review your answers. If there are areas of conflict or uncertainty, resolve them before saying, “Yes!”

1. Does the position match my career goals?

2. Does the position seem to offer the challenge I am seeking?

3. Will the position use my existing skills and educational preparation well?

4. Do I understand the job responsibilities clearly? What is the scope of my responsibility? My principal goals?

5. What will I be paid in this position? Is there a fixed salary or salary range for this position?

6. Are the work hours acceptable? Is overtime required? If so, how often? What happens if I’m inflexible?

7. Must I travel? If so, how much? How far?

8. Must I relocate in the future?

9. How, by whom, and how often will I be evaluated?

10. Do I understand the chain of command clearly?

11. Do I know my manager’s style and work expectations?

12. What does the rest of my department team look like? Do I feel that I will fit in?

13. Can I become a member of the team quickly and succeed immediately?

14. What are my promotional opportunities in this position?

15. Do I think that I can advance in this company? Is it a leader in its field or industry?

16. Will I fit into the corporate environment?

17. What is the company’s future? Is it restructuring? Downsizing?

18. What does the company do to help me maintain and improve my professional status and knowledge?

19. Is superior performance rewarded? How?

20. What is the benefits package? Are there full details, preferably in printed form, on the benefits and how they work?

As you prepare to accept the job offer, think of the importance of your lifetime career. Even if you have accepted the job offer verbally, confirm it in writing, summarizing the conditions of the offer, stating the position title, starting date, salary, and other pertinent information. Some employers send employment agreement letters. If yours does, the exchange of letters ensure mutual agreement on the conditions of the offer.

Write or telephone everyone who agreed to serve as a reference for you, as well as everyone who assisted you with your job search. Notify each of them of your new job and thank each for helping you. This courtesy should never be overlooked. People you thank will be more likely to help you again if you need to call on your network as you advance in your career.

If for some reason you indeed decide that this is not the job for you, notify the employer by telephone first, if possible. Politely give your reason for declining. Then decline the offer in the same way by letter. Remember, thank the employer for the job offer and wish the employer success.

CHRIS B. BARDWELL is contributing editor to THE BLACK COLLEGIAN Magazine