Before you accept any job, you should always ask yourself this question: What if it doesn’t work out? Asking that question of yourself is important. The answer should tell you whether you should accept the job or not. And you must ask yourself this question no matter what the position is – president or entry level.
Every job should propel your career forward. It must provide you with something that you don’t yet have. It could be expanding your current experience, it could add new skills to your portfolio or it could provide new management experiences. But most important, it must provide you with something that is tangible and marketable.
No one accepts a job thinking that it will fail or be a negative experience. However, sometimes those things happen. For whatever reason, what if you decide you made a mistake? What if it doesn’t work out and you have to leave the job in a year, six months or sooner? You have to ask yourself this question because you will need to tell a prospective employer your story as to why you took the job in the first place and what went wrong. But, most importantly, you need to be able to articulate what you got out of the job you are leaving that you didn’t have before (or at the very least, what you thought you would get out of the job and why you took it). Sometimes you can learn more from a negative experience than a positive one.
If the job does not add anything to your credentials, if it is just more of what you have or just seems to be a better opportunity or better money, don’t take the job. In those circumstances, jobs can lead to a career dead end. As you get more senior, you are expected to have a view of who you are and where you are going.
Promises made during interviewing must be in writing.
Jobs that are offered with merely a promise of things to come most often don’t pan out. You must evaluate a job based on what you will be doing as soon as you start that job, not what they tell you will happen in the future. I see so many people who were made promises of things to come who, based their acceptance on those assurances, only to have them not work out. If promises are made, they must be in writing with specifics as to how and when they will be fulfilled. If they are not in writing and spelled out in an offer letter or contract, they do not exist. (Please read my post on offer letters). If an offer letter does not reflect everything you have been told and understand about the job, including all promises made, be very cautious of that offer.
You must be careful about what I call weasel language in offer letters, phrases like, “It is our intention,” or, “depending on business”. These phrases set up an excuse for things not to happen.
In fairness, few companies make offers with the intention of reneging on the promises made, but stuff happens. Business is won and lost, people come and go, and companies are bought and sold. These things may affect promises made.
An offer is only as good as what you do immediately after you accept a job. Those duties and responsibilities must also be spelled out. You must evaluate any job order based on today, not tomorrow.
I see many candidates who tell me that promises were made by one person (or several people), but when they arrived at the job, no one else knew of this assertions. I hate to see it when candidates are disappointed by broken promises.