You’ve been hitting the street with your CV, applying to a company after company, hoping to find that job that will lift you out of unemployment. Or maybe you’ve been shopping around for a new job while at a company that’s not quite ticking all the boxes. Either way, it finally happens: you get a job offer. You clinched it! Your excitement, however, gives way as you nervously begin to consider the offer. The salary isn’t quite where you’d like it to be, but you think you like the manager who interviewed you. Or maybe it’s better than you expected, but the office is far away from where you live.
So many things to consider.
With an overall unemployment rate of almost 19% and a youth unemployment rate of over 33%, finding work in today’s Nigeria isn’t easy, so it’s important you make an informed decision, whether you’re changing jobs or getting your first job. You don’t want to find yourself in a few weeks or months regretting the choice you made. You can always leave, but there will be financial penalties and hopping from job to job looks bad on your CV.
So how do you make the right decision?
Do Your Research
Before you make that leap, you must first research the prospective company, its industry, and the specific job offer being made. The evaluation criteria you must weigh when evaluating the offer will fall into 2 categories: tangible and intangible.
Consider the Tangibles
These are the usual suspects, the stuff with which you’re already familiar: your pay package. Your compensation forms an important part of your employment contract, so don’t just stop at the base salary being offered — find out the other details:
How much is your take-home pay, i.e., your net salary after tax and other deductions?
Who pays tax: the company on your behalf or you? What other deductions will be made?
Do you get any allowances? Will they cover your corresponding expenses?
Is there a salary review built into your contract?
(For hospitality or retail) how much can you make in tips? What’s the policy for POS tips and service charges?
A salary offer may look less (or more) attractive once you’ve factored in all of the above, so try to understand your compensation package.
Don’t Forget the Intangibles
Most job seekers don’t think about non-salary considerations, but they’re crucial to a rewarding job experience. Intangibles vary drastically from company to company, so make sure you get enough info to build a good picture of the company and office. To do this, consider PAM: purpose, autonomy, and mastery.
Purpose: This is your ability to connect with something bigger. Why, aside from money, are you taking this job? What are you leaving behind at your current job? In order to determine your purpose for accepting a new position, you must understand a few things:
- Culture (vs. your values): During your interview process, pay close attention to the organisation’s vibe and its staff. What’s the culture? Traditional companies tend to be more conservative and value predictability and process, while more progressive organizations have a looser structure that values creativity and drive over predictability. Is this a culture in which you’ll thrive? How well will the organization fit your personality — and your personality the organization? Or will you benefit from a culture that’s a little different from your personality?
2. Sacrifice and timing: What would you be giving up for the job — lifestyle changes, low transport costs, friendly colleagues, a good manager, or a low-stress job? Is this a worthwhile trade? Is this the right time to take the offer or would it be better to stay where you are for a while longer or keep looking?
3. Stability: This information is usually harder to acquire, but you can usually find out through the job placement agency you use. Does the company seem to have a high turnover? If so, why? Turnover tends to be high in Nigerian companies, so it’s a great sign when a company’s staff tend to stay at least a year.
Autonomy: This is your ability to control the who, what, when, and where of your work. You may be at the very beginning of your career, but autonomy is an important organization characteristic that you can assess:
- The position: Research the offered position and look at its role within the organization and its responsibilities. What’s the organization hierarchy? How reliant will others be on your work output and vice versa? Is the work challenging?
2. The work environment: Going beyond company culture, take a look at the work environment. Does it seem to be high productivity or high stress? How accessible are your managers? Does there seem to be a high level of trust between managers and staff?
3. Flexibility: Are employees allowed any flexibility in how they produce their work or will you work within a strict framework?
4. Mastery: This is the drive to improve as well as the available opportunities for improvement. It determines the path your career will take. Will you grow? Will you stretch your skills set?
5. Professional development: How does the organization provide for employee growth? Bigger companies tend to offer more formal training and development opportunities, but smaller companies tend to give you a lot more responsibility and, therefore, deeper on-the-job training.
6. Career roadmap: How long do employees tend to hold the same position? Is there a clear career roadmap with just one path or multiple paths? Are there opportunities to attend networking events and workshops?
7. Performance appraisal: What’s the process? How often will you get constructive feedback from your manager?
Don’t just jump at an offer. Take enough time to evaluate your job offer, but don’t drag your feet or you might miss the opportunity altogether. Remember to ask questions during the interview process, as questions show that you are inquisitive and detail-oriented, which good employers will appreciate. You may not get all the answers, but the answers you do get will go a long way towards figuring out if the job is right for you.