After months of filling out applications, preparing for interviews and waiting tirelessly by the phone, you finally received a job offer! You’re probably ready to accept anything they offer you, right?
Well, before you make any drastic moves, keep one thing in mind: it’s still an offer; meaning nothing is set in stone yet! You have the right to ask questions and negotiate. We talked to Melissa Cole, a career development coach at the University of South Carolina, about what you should ask before you accept a post-grad offer so that you’re completely aware of what you’d be getting out of the position.
1. What will be expected of me on a daily basis?
Sure, your potential employer may have glossed over long-term projects that the company works on, but make sure you understand what you’ll be doing on a day-to-day basis. Will you be heading up projects daily, or are projects assigned weekly? What particular tasks will you be working on? It’s also a great idea to ask what type of training (if any) will be provided before you start working.
2. What are my future opportunities with this company?
Who doesn’t dream of climbing the corporate ladder and increasing her salary? Although you could enjoy the position that you’ve been offered in the short run, think about your future as well. Discuss the opportunity of moving up in the company before you accept the offer!
“In some situations, you’re going to have to start at the bottom of the chain, so it can be a step toward your dream job,” Cole says. It’s important to make sure that this company offers the opportunity to work your way up. “Ask yourself: ‘When I master my current position, will I have to leave this company in five years to find something new, or can I expand my portfolio and grow here?’” Cole says.
3. Is the salary negotiable?
If you’re uncomfortable with your salary, now is the time to say something. “You definitely want to know about salary before you accept the job offer,” Cole advises. “It’s really hard to go back after you’ve accepted an offer and ask for more.”
While some employers are open to negotiating salaries, others may not be as flexible. For those employers who are flexible with your salary, Cole recommends that you present a salary range that will allow you to live comfortably. Be sure to calculate all of your expenses in advance so you can respond to the offer in a timely manner!
However, it is acceptable to decline an offer based on salary. “It’s okay to say no to a job if the salary doesn’t meet your expectations, as long as your expectations are reasonable,” Cole says.
4. Does the company operate only on base salaries, or is extra compensation also available?
The base salary is the initial rate of compensation an employee receives. During the negotiation process, if you’re not cool with the base salary and it’s clear that your possible employer isn’t going to budge, move on to this question. Some companies offer extra compensation for workers who go above and beyond company expectations by making more sales, excelling in the workplace or even helping to land new clients. Other companies may provide other compensation, such as a stipend for using public transit to get to and from work.
5. Is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. considered a normal workday at this office?
While the average workday starts at 9 and ends at 5, those core hours don’t necessarily apply to every company. “It is becoming more common for companies to offer flexible schedules as long as your work is done on time,” Cole says. “Large cities have more of these opportunities, whereas in a traditional, smaller town, you probably won’t see much of that.”
Definitely take into consideration these hours before accepting any job offer! If you’re not a morning person, then starting work at 7 a.m. might not be your best bet.
6. May I have a copy of the offer and benefits package?
This is one of the most common questions students forget to ask before accepting a job offer. Make sure that all of the negotiations are in writing so that you can refer to them later if necessary! Also, be clear about which benefits are being offered in addition to the job, such as health care coverage, dental insurance and paid holidays.
While you may be overjoyed at the opportunity of getting your first job offer, make sure you have a complete understanding of what’s being brought to the table before you accept it. Before accepting any offers, ask these questions and take time to think about your answers, too. And if you do decide to accept the position, congrats on your first real-world job!