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Unexpected Job Offer? 5 Questions to Ask Before Answering

Oftentimes, the most difficult part of finding a new job for Millennials and Gen Z (18-35 year olds) is the actual decision around whether to accept a job offer. I experienced this early in my career, back when I worked at a non-profit for many years before setting out to find a new job.

I never expected to end up where I did, primarily because my criteria for what I was looking for changed during the interview process. I chased certain brands but after interviewing came to realize the work culture wasn't right for me. I also thought my next position needed to be at a certain level, but compensation today is rarely determined by title. Many professionals ask a recruiter for job search tips and to weigh in when making career decisions, but it is nearly impossible for recruiters to be entirely objective; we typically know you, your personal goals, your professional goals and long-term aspirations based only on a few brief conversations.

Ultimately, as candidates we need to make the best decision for ourselves, including our life at work and at home. During my career change, I took a step back in title, a step forward in pay, and moved from a “sexy” brand to a company my friends had never heard of. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I have made in my career, and in my personal life.

Whether you’re an active or a passive candidate, incredibly happy in your current role or openly looking elsewhere, and regardless of what matters most to you specific to your career, here are five important questions to consider when faced with a job offer you may not have expected, including how to make the best decision for you. I’ve found these five questions to be integral in my decision-making process.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Faced with an Unexpected Job Offer

1. Will the new role impact my candidacy for a job in the future?

Are you adding a new industry to your experience? Does the new job diversify your experience? Before making any decision, ask yourself these questions to gauge whether the new role would bolster your resume moving forward. Ask whether this new role will challenge you, grow your skills and/or make you more hirable down the road. It’s integral for all professionals to simultaneously look at career decisions with a long-term and “right now” mindset.

2. If I was successful in this new job, after one year what would I have accomplished?

Does the new job help you add anything to your career history, trajectory or facilitate your learning development? If the only reason you’re considering accepting a new job is salary, it might be wise to wait for a job offering a new challenge, a learning opportunity or a more flexible work arrangement. Before making any decisions, be clear in what you need, what you desire, and make sure an offer affords you these benefits. 

3. If I stayed in my current job/with my current company for another year, how would it benefit me?

It’s always important to think through what you might be sacrificing when leaving a job. Would finishing a project you currently manage increase your chances of landing a better role a few months down the road? Is there upcoming work that would make your current job more interesting? Sometimes considering a new job offer can give you the best insight into how great your current role really is; take the time to weigh all sides and never enter the decision-making process without an open mind. Long term, you may find that staying would be as beneficial as leaving.

4. Does the next year of my life outside of work support the decision to leave? Does it support the decision to stay?

Over the next year, what do you have planned outside of work? Do you have any major family or personal events, such as buying a home, travel, getting married or starting a family? When considering leaving, or staying, consider how flexible each employer would be, the expectations placed on your shoulders, and how the offer (or your current job) would make you most successful outside of work – as well as at work. Oftentimes a new job can take months of learning and adjustment. Embracing the challenge can be wonderfully invigorating or it may serve as an obstacle in your personal life. Weigh all opportunities against your current and upcoming life goals. 

5. Which manager would best support the first 4 items on this list?

Your manager can have a profound effect on your work and your personal life. Understanding your manager’s working style and their expectations of you can significantly impact your enjoyment during work and after work. When face with a job offer, evaluate the hiring manager, explore their past professional experiences, LinkedIn recommendations (to weigh leadership qualities), tenure at various companies, and the type of interactions you had during the interview process. Work and life often intersect, and finding leadership you believe in typically translates to leadership who will believe in you, which can have innumerable benefits.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016 18-35 year-olds had an average tenure of 1.6 years per job. By 2020, these very same 18-35 year-olds (millennials and Gen Z) are expected to make up at least 50 percent of the workforce. Ultimately, as part of the younger generation myself, the best career advice we can give each other is this: define why you want to make a career change; take the time to explore what it is you really want and what it is you really need. Your career will benefit from it, as will your personal life.


Career Advice

Jeff Marsh

Jeff serves as Senior Executive, Client Services, for WilsonCTS. Located in Toronto, Jeff has a diverse recruitment background with experience in RPO, contingent, and corporate recruitment across various industries – from enterprise software to museum management. Jeff graduated from the University of Toronto with a double major in philosophy and art history, and has a passion for basketball, cooking as well as art theory.