Graduation day has passed, you’ve framed your degree, and you’re frantically sending out your resume and cover letter to any job opening that seems remotely interesting. Maybe you’ve even determined how long a cover letter should be to place yourself in the best position for potential employers. After running the gamut of interviewing and meeting with recruiters, you’re so ready to land your very first job. Then, it finally happens. You get a call from one of the recruiters with a job offer. You want to scream with joy, but you hold your composure on the phone. After all, you don’t want to accept the offer right off the bat. There’s important information you still need to consider before accepting your first offer. You need to make sure this is the right opportunity for you. Here are 10 questions you should ask before you accept that offer.
1. What is the salary?
If you haven’t already asked, now is the time to find out how much money you will be making. You’re in the real world now, you have bills to pay, and you want to make sure that you’ll have enough to cover your living expenses. It’s not taboo to negotiate your first job offer, so if you feel the value you bring is worth more than what the company is offering, ask if there is room to negotiate.
2. Is there opportunity for career growth?
While you’re excited that you’ve finally received your first job offer, it’s important to remain objective and think about your future. You don’t want to jump into a dead-end position that will leave you back on the job hunt a year from now, so ask about career development. Many companies have a path to promotion, so ask if there will be an opportunity to grow and develop within the organization. A company that’s committed to employee growth will serve you well in the future.
3. How would you describe the company culture?
This is, by far, one of the most important questions you can ask. The culture of a company can dictate how happy you’ll be at the company and can even impact your success. Do you thrive in a collaborative environment where all team members work together? Or do you prefer working independently? Is the team close-knit? Do they go out to lunch often? The company’s response to these questions can tell you a lot about how you will fit in. You’ll be able to grow and thrive in an environment where your working and communication style match that of your team.
4. What is included in the benefits package?
Benefits are just as important as salary, and before accepting any offer, you should know what benefits the company offers. Do they have a 401K program that the company matches? What is the premium for health insurance? Your wellbeing is important, and you want to make sure that the company is providing resources that allow you to care for your health without worry.
5. How much vacation and sick leave do I get?
Is travel important to you? Do you want time to visit your family? Then you’ll need to ask about vacation and sick time. Some companies don’t allow any time off for the first 90 days. You’ll want to know about that in advance so you don’t plan any getaways during that period. It’s important to take time to yourself and recharge, so make sure the company offers enough vacation time to combat burnout.
6. Are there other perks?
Aside from benefits and vacation time, there are other things companies can offer that increase employee satisfaction. The option to work remotely, office parties, team-building activities, community volunteerism and charity events, and the opportunity to travel or learn new skills are all amazing perks that will drive your happiness and allow you to work at your full potential. Consider what aspects are non-negotiable for you so you’ll be able to better evaluate this offer.
7. How will you measure my success in this role?
If you haven’t asked this question in the interview process, now is the time to ask. Having a clear idea of how you will be evaluated tells you a lot about how the company operates and what you need to do to be successful. Now is also the time to negotiate for a 90-day review so you can check in with leadership to ensure you’re performing your job duties flawlessly. This allows you to correct any behaviors that may be detrimental to your future success, helping you grow and evolve as an employee.
8. What is my future manager’s leadership style?
You’ve likely met your future manager at this stage, but it’s important to ask about their management style. Do they like to micromanage? Do they travel a lot, making them less available for questions? These are all important things to know before accepting an offer. If your working style will not mesh with that of a micromanager, this may not be the right fit for you.
9. Will I have a mentor or internal advocate?
While you have already asked about career growth, it’s also good to know if the company has a mentorship program. Since you’re coming in with limited experience, a mentor can prove invaluable in your first few months. While it may not be a must-have, it could move the needle toward acceptance if you find out a company offers this type of program.
10. Ask yourself: Am I excited about this offer?
The last question to ask before accepting an offer is a question to ask yourself. After learning everything about the offer, the company, and the benefits, are you excited about this offer? If you’re thinking of taking the job because it’s your only offer, but you’re not thrilled about the company, you likely won’t be happy in this role. If you’re feeling enthusiastic and passionate about the job and the company, now is the time to sign on the dotted line.
While you may be fresh out of college, always remember that you don’t need to accept your first offer. You want to set yourself up for long-term success, and that means finding the career that fits your skills and finding a company that supports your growth and fosters a great working environment. After asking all of these critical questions, you should have a better understanding of the position. Only then can you evaluate the offer objectively and decide what response is best for you.
Andrei Kurtuy is a co-founder and CMO of Novorésumé, an online resume and cover letter builder that will help you skyrocket your career.