As one of life's most stressful events, starting a new job should not be taken lightly. No gig will fulfill every last one of your desires, so it's a matter of figuring out what is most important to you in a job, and then deciding what you can live with and what you simply won't abide. When weighing a decision like this, it can be helpful to make a checklist of questions and answer them honestly. Use the list of questions below as a jumping-off point.
Most importantly: never ignore your gut feelings. If something feels wrong, it probably is!
1. What's the money like?
Obviously, this is a major detail to mull over when deciding whether to accept a job offer. You don't want to accept something solely because it's high-paying if there is nothing else appealing about the role — the excitement will wear off and you'll become miserable. On the other hand, if you are offered a job that seems awesome but the salary is a dismay, consider taking a leap of faith and going for something that might make you happy — regardless of the pay.
If the money is truly the only thing you're stuck on, think about it from all angles. What do you really need to get by? Will this wage make it significantly harder for you to repay your debts? What is the company's review and raise schedule, and are there opportunities to earn bonuses? These things can add up, bringing your actual earnings up to a more livable level.
2. Does the work culture seem like a good fit?
This goes beyond how "cool" an office looks, though nap rooms and Rosé on tap are definitely awesome. Do you think you would be comfortable in this office — physically and mentally? Is the vibe generally open, friendly, and encouraging of conversation? Simply put: do people seem happy here and is it the kind of happiness you're seeking? For example, if you're a quiet, book-loving introvert, you may not enjoy working in a boisterous, aggressive environment where the loudest shouter wins. Power your decision by researching the company culture beforehand.
3. Who will be your boss?
Pay keen attention to the person who will be your supervisor — along with other higher-ups in the company to whom you'll look for guidance and support. Do they seem like possible mentors? Do they have roles that you might like to have in the future? You'll derive far more value from a job where you can be helped along by those above you.
4. What are the benefits like?
Benefits like health insurance and paid time off are a big deal, and you should learn about what the company offers before making a decision on whether or not to work there. If a company does not offer these at all, it may be a sign that the company is in trouble.
Other perks are nice, such as gym membership reimbursements or assistance with transportation costs, but these shouldn't necessarily make or break your decision to work someplace.
5. Do the people seem cool?
You don't have to be best friends with your co-workers, but it's important to be able to maintain a friendly rapport with the people who populate your world for a huge chunk of every week. Hopefully you can get a sense for whether or not you feel comfortable around the other employees who will be your colleagues and peers.
6. What are your opportunities for advancement?
Just like with dating, ask yourself if you can you imagine a future here. Unlike with dating, you'll want to be clear from the start about what career advancement looks like at this company, what your job description looks like, and what, exactly, will get someone in your role promoted to the next level.