When you’ve been looking for a job for a long time, listening to people talk about a lack of jobs for college graduates and concentrating on how to make this best possible impression on your potential employers, it’s easy to forget that job applications and interviews are two-sided. While it’s important not to be too picky, especially with your first or second job, it is important not to take anything offered to you simply because it comes with a steady paycheck. Taking a job that isn’t right for you could prevent you from finding the right opportunity. It’s always good to get work experience, but if you’re having trouble deciding between two job offers, or you have an offer that just isn’t sitting well with you, consider the following points:
1) Can you realistically live independently with the salary or wage that has been offered to you? What benefits, like health insurance, are included?
Before taking an offer, sit down and do the math. Is your new company going to cover your health care costs? How much is your car payment, plus insurance? What is your rent payment (or, if you are living at home, what might your rent payment be in the future?) Do you have student loans or other debts to pay off? What is the cost of living of the city where your job is located? If you realize that your new salary and benefits isn’t enough to fully support you, that doesn’t mean you should automatically turn it down. If you think it’s a good opportunity, consider your other options. Is it possible to ask your employers for a flexible, part-time schedule so that you might work another job? Have you looked into deferring your loans? Could you get a roommate, or find an apartment in a less expensive part of town? Instead of buying a new car, consider taking public transportation (I did this for all five years that I lived in San Francisco and it made a HUGE difference).
2) Are you only taking this job because it pays more than your other offers?
It can be extremely tempting to take your old job at Wendy’s back since they are offering to pay you $15 an hour, and the copywriting gig you were just offered only pays $12/h. Unless you are truly interested in working your way up in the food service industry (which can be a lucrative career), don’t bail on the career you really want just because it’s not perfect yet. Consider other options to help supplement your new, lower-paying gig. Remember that the experience you earn in the office will most likely make you more qualified for even more supplemental work, such as freelancing on the side , to help make ends meet.
3) Is there an aspect of this job, company or culture that you find offensive or unhealthy?
Even your dream job is going to have some elements to it that you won’t like, be it some of the people you work with, an uncomfortable desk chair, strict hours, etc. However, if there is an aspect of the company or culture that truly clashes with your beliefs or lifestyle, take serious thought as to whether or not it’s a healthy choice for you. After the initial rush of being employed subsides, you are likely to feel even more and more uncomfortable, to the point of really hating your workplace This could even be taken to an unhealthy degree. For example, if you recently quit drinking alcohol, you might not want to jeopardize your sobriety at a new whiskey manufacturing start-up where one of the employee benefits is free liquor on Fridays. Your health and mental well-being is more important than any job, and if you’re open and honest with your employer about this, they should understand (and if they don’t, then they are jerks who you don’t want to work for anyway)!