Landing your first job offer is extremely exciting, but it can feel intimidating, too. The professional world is full of wheelers and dealers with decades of experience that you don’t have. How do you know whether the job is legit? What if you’re being taken advantage of?
If your first job offer has left you feeling unsure, we’re here to help guide you. Before you sign that offer and fill out your W-9, read on for 3 things to know when accepting your first job out of school.
The Interview Process is for You, Too
A common mistake that recent grads make when navigating the job market is to approach every interview solely as an opportunity to sell themselves. They focus so much on proving that they’re the right candidate for their prospective company that they forget to consider whether the company is the right fit for them, too.
Remember that the interview process goes both ways. Actively consider during the interview whether you’d be happy with the company. Ask questions that you may have about the role and working there. If you have any requirements for your future company, inquire about them.
If you’ve already received an offer, you may be thinking, “too late.” Good news: it’s not. As long as the offer remains unsigned, the door is open for you to ask any clarifying questions about both the role and the company. If you receive an unkind response to further inquiries, it may be a sign that the company is pushy and inflexible, and that may not be right for you.
Don’t Forget About the Benefits
Most first-time job seekers are focused on one main thing: salary. How much will they get paid and does it meet their needs? Is it a fair salary? Is it what they wanted?
Salary is certainly important, but it’s not the whole picture. Benefits are a significant part of a job offer and should not be overlooked. We’re not talking about perks like a keg in the office or a fully stocked fridge. We’re talking about a benefits package, including a 401k plan, health care, vision, dental, and more.
If you’re 22 and on your parents health care, you’re probably not considering these factors very heavily. Here’s a tip: that’s a foolish thing to do. For one, your dental insurance may run out before your 26th birthday, and your teeth are important! Additionally, if you plan on sticking with the company for a while, there may be a point at which you’ll need your work’s health insurance. It would be a pity to find out down the line that the insurance available to you doesn’t meet your health care needs.
More importantly, however, a company’s healthcare options can be a good indicator of how much they care about their employees. A company with good health insurance options is willing to invest in their employees’ wellbeing. That’s a company you want to be a part of.
You Can Negotiate, and You Should
Negotiation is one of the most intimidating parts of a job offer, for recent grads and seasoned employees alike. But if you want a better offer, you’ve got to ask for it. It’s time to put your discomfort aside and get down to business. Let’s negotiate!
The first step is to discern whether the job offer you’ve received is competitive. There are plenty of sites that will tell you the going rate for your job in your area. See how your offer stands up.
If you find that your offer is on the lower end and want to negotiate for more, the next step is to pick your starting number. The key is to pick a number that’s slightly higher than what you’re actually looking for, rather than what you actually want. That will give you some wiggle room until you get to your actual number.
Now, it’s just time to bring it up; simple as that. Tell your prospective employer what you were looking for and see what they say.
Remember that it’s always okay to take some time to think about it before accepting or rejecting. You’ve got this!