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How can you tell if a job is right for you

15/01/2018
Posted by: Tracy Bolan

Being offered a job is undoubtedly exciting: not only do you feel relief at having secured the position, but you have a new challenge to look forward to as you start a different stage of your career. However, as tempting as it is to quit your current post and accept the offer on the spot, it’s vital that you have done enough research to be as sure as you can that the position is right for you. Switching jobs can be life-changing: after all, you spend a significant amount - if not the majority - of your time at work. Here are our top tips for deciding if a role is a good fit.

Practicalities

At the absolute minimum, check that you are genuinely satisfied with the working hours, holiday entitlement and benefits package before accepting. It’s also important to consider the location and any additional commuting time as studies show that longer commutes have a negative impact on health. Also factor in the cost of the journey, including petrol, public transport and parking. Other expenses - such as the need for specific workwear or an expectation that you will pay for equipment – are worth considering as these can easily eat into a salary.

Who will you work with?

Before accepting a job, you should have met – and felt that you can happily work alongside - the boss. Be wary of an interview conducted by someone from HR that prevents you from meeting the person that will set the precedent for your working environment. You should also know who your co-workers will be and ideally, have met them too. Pay attention to what they reveal: how do they speak about one another and the company? Do they seem happy?

How do they treat existing staff?

You can glean a lot about how you’d be treated as an employee from the way people in the firm behave towards you during the recruitment process. If you contact them, are they helpful and polite? Do they seem organised? Are people friendly towards you or are you unacknowledged as a visitor? Is there an element of openness- for example, are you offered an opportunity to informally discuss the role before applying and are you given a tour when you visit?

If you can find out information about the company’s retention rate, this will be illuminating. Try to establish why the vacancy for your position came about: expansion or promotion are good signs; the former post-holder walking out is clearly not.

Finally, use your network and research skills to find out what kind of reputation the company has. Does anyone know somebody who has worked there or had other direct experience of them? Sites such as Glassdoor can also give insights into a company from people who have worked there.

Workplace culture

Organisational culture – the behaviours, values, norms and beliefs of a workplace- permeates everything, so it is vital that it aligns with your core values and beliefs. For example, working in an environment that places high value on working long hours in order to make profit will energise and drive some people, but others would be utterly miserable. Firms often outline their own view of their culture in their mission statements, but none are going to admit to running a place like some sort of Scrooge. Instead, observe it through the actions of employees when you meet them. Consider how the environment feels to you and if it is comfortable.

Future prospects

Finally, remember that a new job can be a big upheaval. Is it going to offer long term prospects and opportunity for progression, or is the position only right for now? You should have a solid understanding of what the post entails from the job description and discussing the role at interview, but once you are settled and those elements become more routine, will it continue to satisfy and challenge you? Find out about the training available and the employer’s approach to supporting your educational and professional advancement. Also ask about the company’s structure and how that lends itself to promotional opportunities.

For more tips, see our other career advice posts.

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