This blog is part of PCDNetwork’s career in change 2017 series. Click here for information on all the activities, webinars, blogs and ways to participate.
By Dr. Catalina Rojas, Director of Innovation, PCDNetwork
If you think the road to landing a job (and building a career of impact) ends when you get a job offer. Think again.
If you have been following the PCDN Career Series you have probably noticed a logical continuum. From how to prep for your job search, to how to build successful resumes and cover letters, to networking and job interviewing. Is this the end? Well, we hope you follow this month’s content to find out that it’s most definitely not the end.
Let me tell you why. First, things first. You got an offer? GOOD for you. Celebrate this huge accomplishment. You nailed it. Now the main lesson is: just because you got an offer doesn’t mean you will have to say yes.
Here is what we invite you to consider:
There are practical considerations when accepting a job offer and you are probably thinking that not all of us can afford to say NO. That’s right. Sometimes we have family obligations, school loans, rent, food, health bills and we need a JOB.
If you can afford this, then consider how does this job (title, organization) fit into your career. If you want an academic career and you accept a job in an international NGO consider how this will affect your future as a scholar. This is from real life experience. Soon after finishing my Ph.D. I considered the costs of applying for a tenure track job (sending applications all over the U.S. and if considered having to commute between my job and my home). I also wanted to use my research/training skills to have direct impact on the world, and was fortunate when I landed a job at an international gender and development organization. I loved it but in that moment I said goodbye to a full-time academic career, even though I still train and teach I mean my chances of a tenure-track position in traditional academia decreased considerably.
Did you have enough time to inquire about the job and the organization? Do you have a thorough idea of who will you have to work with, your direct report (boss). Say you love the job but NOT so sure about the organization. Answer ALL questions necessary. Don’t be afraid to ask all the questions you need. This is a double-way street, its clear the organization likes you, did you have time to interview them too? If not, take your time and do all your research before you say yes or no. Make sure the work culture fits your personality. Also ask around in your professional network to get a sense of the work environment. There is nothing worse than starting a new job in an organization with a dysfunctional work culture.
Life happens regardless of the best carefully crafted plan. If the job requires 50% international travel and you have been waiting all your life for an opportunity like this, great! But consider if you are a care-taker (children, elderly parents) it is not fair to you or the organization if for whatever reason you cant fulfill the work expectations in its entirety.
There will be a whole blogpost to give you tips for successful salary negotiations. I can’t tell you much as my career is an example of how NOT to do salary negotiations. This is particularly pervasive for women. Know your industry, do your research and negotiate. Also, know yourself. I am a terrible negotiator but I know what is THE MOST important thing for me. It’s not money. It’s time. Time to be with my family, time to workout, time out. So be prepared to negotiate and NOT only in terms of money. Know what is important for you (if it’s money, go for it) and negotiate. I can happily accept less money if I have more time for living my life. That I won’t divulge to my employer, of course. But it is very valuable to know what is essential for you and what is and isn’t negotiable.
50% of married couples end in divorce in the U.S. So a LOT of people say yes and they were wrong. See? You are not alone. Some of my most valuable career experiences have been lessons in failure and we will cover this in July as part of our series. I bet you want to hear the story. I accepted a job, I was enticed by the title but I didn’t fully consider the details. I was to be co-director of a very small NGO. I was no stranger to NGOs but I failed to ask for a report on their financial solvency, I didn’t fully inquire about what it meant to co-direct an organization and I didn’t fully grasp the challenge ahead of me. It didn’t took me long to know that I had made a mistake and that I was to blame for accepting this job. Not only I was not going to fit with the culture of informality (my payment was not only delayed but I was told they could not honor what we agreed upon). Even more important, the vision I had for the organization clearly didn’t fit the vision the board had for how to scale the organization. In summary, I knew what I had to do. I am proud that I choose to make this process as painless as possible for everyone. No tears or blame games or drama. I was honest and respectful to everyone involved. I took responsibility. After extended talks with the board, I wrote many letters explaining my reasons and said goodbye. This whole painful process could have been averted had I stopped and considered things more closely after I got the offer. And I remember this as a valuable lesson. The organization found the right person for the job and I moved on as well.
Your career will not be a straight path full of success and joy. Most likely you will fail, you will be lost at times. Getting the job offer is a huge win but it’s a critical moment for you to think and know if it’s right to say yes or better to say no.
We hope PCDN offers you guidance and inspiration to not only get a job but find a career with impact that gives you meaning and leaves the world a little better than before.