What to Consider Before Accepting a Job Offer

Say you have been in the job market for a while. You’ve been spending all your free time applying for open positions, polishing your resume, and going on job interviews. Now, you have finally received that coveted job offer after several rounds of interviews with an organization. After all the hard work you have put into getting that offer, you’re ready to accept it and finally end your job hunt. While a lot of job seekers today are anxious to accept the first job offer they receive, it’s important to consider certain aspects of the position before making a commitment. You don’t want to end up wasting your time on a position that isn’t a great fit, nor do you want to waste any more of the company’s time. To help you make sure you are making the right decision when accepting a job offer, we’ve provided a few key factors to consider before saying yes.

  1. Make sure you fully understand the scope of the position: Now that you have presented yourself as a capable candidate in job interviews, make sure you are honestly capable of handling the day-to-day responsibilities of the position. Also, make sure those responsibilities are something you will enjoy doing day in and day out.
  2. Will the position provide an opportunity to grow? Make sure that the position and the organization provide opportunities to grow as a professional and help to build your career. Don’t accept a position that will turn into a dead end job with no upward mobility. Find out if the company is known for internal hiring to fill open positions or if they have a tendency to hire externally.
  3. Check out the work environment: While you are interviewing with a company, take advantage of the opportunity to peek inside the corporate culture. Make sure the social and professional environment of the office seems like some place you would be comfortable working in. Also, it doesn’t hurt to ask questions regarding company culture while you are interviewing.
  4. Test out the commute: When you go to the office for interviews, you might not be traveling there during rush hour. Test out the commute both in the morning and evening rush hour to make sure it is doable and bearable for you to make each day. If you have to deal with a long commute in traffic or deal with the hold-ups of public transportation, you need to consider those factors in your decision making process.
  5. Are the salary and benefits reasonable for your lifestyle? A lot of job seekers that have been in the job market for a long time say that any money is better than no money, and are willing to take a major pay cut just to get back in the office. It’s important to consider if the salary offered to you will actually be able to cover your cost of living. Also, make sure the benefits package is able to provide for you and any dependents in your life. This includes the amount of sick, holiday and vacation days you will be allotted in your new position.

Before making a commitment to a company by accepting their offer, make sure that commitment is something you will be willing to stand by for some time. If you accept a position that will only make you miserable, you probably won’t end up working there for long, and you’ll find yourself right back in the job market where you started.

Tips for Metro Riders

If you are one of those lucky Washingtonians who doesn’t have to battle through traffic on the Beltway every morning to commute to work, you most likely take the metro! Learn how to make your metro commute easier, safer, and all around more enjoyable by following the tips below:

  1. Buy a SmartTrip Card: Not only will these cards get you through the turnstiles a little more quickly; they also save you up to a dollar or more on every trip!
  2. Wear comfortable shoes: Commuting via metro typically means that you will have to do a bit of walking to get to and from the station, so wear comfortable shoes and bring your work shoes in a separate bag if necessary.
  3. Hold onto your bags at all times: Holding onto your bags will not only protect you from theft, but it’s also considerate for other passengers to keep your bags off the floor and seats.
  4. Keep your fare card handy: While you want to keep your fare or SmartTrip card somewhere safe, you also want to have it easily accessible so that you don’t have to hunt through your entire purse or wallet to find it when exiting the metro.
  5. Stand right, walk left: This rule of thumb applies to riding the escalators. If you are standing, stand to the right, this leaves the left side open for walking passengers to pass by you unobstructed.
  6. Report any suspicious behavior or unattended bags: Metro police request that passengers report any suspicious behavior or unattended bags they notice to a uniformed metro worker or police officer. This action will help keep you and other riders safe while on the metro.
  7. Plan your trips ahead of time: If you are a daily commuter, you probably know what time your train arrives every morning, but it’s always a good idea to check for any metro delays or alerts before you leave the house to avoid any interruptions to your routine.

How to Succeed as a Temp

As we have previously mentioned, temporary work is a great way to get your foot in the door with an organization and potentially find a permanent job with them. For that reason, you should treat each and every temporary assignment as part of a long interview process. Everything you do and say (and even the things you don’t do or say) will make a positive or negative impression on your temporary supervisor. Going into a temp assignment with a great attitude and the desire to succeed will result in you making a great impression on the company you are temping for, and could possibly lead to a full-time job offer. Follow our tips below and you will be sure to succeed as a temporary employee:

  • Always act professionally
  • Take initiative whenever it seems appropriate
  • Express interest in the organization and what you are doing
  • Don’t use the computers or office machinery for personal use
  • Don’t text or make calls while on the clock
  • Avoid being late or missing work
  • Offer to take on additional responsibilities
  • Ask thoughtful and insightful questions
  • Make suggestions for improvement if appropriate
  • Build professional connections with your colleagues
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for additional clarification whenever necessary
  • Make sure your work is properly prioritized
  • Keep your workspace tidy and organized
  • Use a professional vocabulary and avoid any slang usage

How to Dress Business Casual

The majority of offices in Washington adhere to a business casual dress code, but many professionals have trouble discerning exactly what that means. We have provided some basic standards below to help you learn how to dress business casual without breaking the company dress code:

What is appropriate?

  • Dress pants
  • Blouses
  • Skirts or dresses that reach the knee, paired with stockings in the winter
  • Polo shirts
  • Button down shirts
  • Closed toe shoes
  • Khakis or slacks
  • Sweaters

What is not appropriate?

  • Jeans
  • Sneakers
  • Hats of any kind
  • Open toe shoes or sandals/flip flops
  • T-shirts
  • Shorts
  • Cargo pants
  • Athletic wear
  • Sweatpants and sweatshirts
  • Tank tops or sleeveless shirts
  • Revealing clothing
  • Tights/leggings

Many offices do have exceptions to these rules. For example, your company might adhere to a business casual dress code, but allow their employees to wear jeans on Fridays or sandals in the summer. You should definitely confirm these exceptions with HR before dressing inappropriately without knowing. Don’t assume that you’re allowed to wear jeans since you see someone else wearing them. Before starting a new position, you should ask your HR department what the appropriate dress code is, and if you work for a staffing agency, you should ask a recruiter about their dress code policies to make sure you are aware of any exceptions and rules. As a temporary employee, you should treat every assignment as an interview, since it could potentially turn into a permanent job. Dress for success and you will be sure to not only impress your employer, but also boost your own self confidence in the workplace!

How to Take Initiative

Taking initiative is a crucial skill for any employee who wants to succeed in the workplace. As a temporary employee, taking initiative could help land you a permanent job offer, and as a permanent employee, it could lead to a raise or a promotion. Learn how to find opportunities to take initiative in our advice below.

  1. Offer Assistance:
    1. When you have downtime in between projects, you should seek extra opportunities to help out around the office.
    2. Offer to assist your supervisor or coworkers if you see them struggling to meet a deadline or finish a project.
    3. When it comes time to hand out bonuses or offer promotions, your boss will remember the times where you stepped up to the plate to offer assistance.
  2. Seek Improvement:
    1. A proactive employee constantly seeks ways to improve processes around the office.
    2. Always keep your eyes peeled for ways to make office procedures more efficient and effective, and then share your suggestions with your supervisor.
    3. For example, if you think you have a great way to boost your company’s online presence, come up with a pitch for your boss and present it to them.
  3. Solve Problems:
    1. Take the initiative to solve problems when they arise whenever possible. A quick problem solver is a great asset for any manager.
    2. Being a great problem solver will take stress off of your boss and they will surely appreciate you for that.
    3. Although, if there is ever a problem that you believe you are unauthorized to take care of, you should definitely seek assistance before trying to solve things yourself and stepping on any toes.
  4. Ask for More Responsibilities:
    1. If you feel you have mastered your current responsibilities and have extra time to take on more work each day, you should let your boss know.
    2. Rather than sitting around waiting for your boss to give you more work, you should go to them and let them know you can handle more.
    3. Ask your boss if there are any tasks that you could take off their hands and manage yourself. Seeking additional responsibilities will show that you are ready for a promotion, and also possibly deserve a raise.
  5. Work Hard:
    1. Taking initiative doesn’t just mean seeking extra work outside of your set responsibilities. It also applies to exceeding expectations for those responsibilities.
    2. Try to plan ahead in order to turn in your work ahead of deadlines or prepare in advance for projects that haven’t started yet.
    3. Taking initiative is not just turning your work in on time, but turning it in early. Similarly, taking initiative is not just getting the job done, but doing it well.

You should aim to exceed all of your supervisor’s expectations for your work, and go above and beyond the call of duty whenever possible. Frequently taking initiative is the surest way to succeed and grow as a professional.

The Importance of Building Relationships with Networking Contacts

As we have said time and time again, networking can be the key to you finding (and landing) your dream job! The problem is that many professionals get lazy after making a connection with a new networking contact and fail to follow up afterwards. For example, you meet someone who works in your desired industry, or works for a staffing agency that specializes in placements in that industry. You discuss your job search and exchange business cards with a promise to keep in touch, but you never hear from them again, nor do you reach out to them on your own. Failing to follow-up with a networking contact could potentially result in you missing out on a great opportunity, so read our advice below and learn how to properly follow-up in a way that can benefit your career.

  • The first step would be to research your new contact. Google them and/or connect with them on LinkedIn to learn more of their own work history and how it could benefit you.
  • Next, you should reach out via phone or email within two weeks of meeting them. Sending even a brief email can help to cement your initial connection. For example, say that it was a pleasure to meet them and you would definitely like to connect again soon.
  • Setting up another meeting, such as having lunch or meeting for coffee, would be your next step. Bring a copy of your resume with you, and discuss your career goals so that you can see whether or not your new contact would be able to aid you in your job search.

After having a meeting with your contact, it’s important to continue to follow-up and stay in touch. Check in with them every couple of weeks or so in order to keep your connection strong.

How to Tell if You are Qualified for a Position

There are a lot of job seekers out there who apply for every job posting they find interesting, whether or not they think they are truly qualified. Avoid wasting your time applying for jobs you aren’t qualified for, so that you can spend more time working on applications for positions you could realistically acquire. Learn how to tell whether or not you are qualified for a job by reading the following advice.

First, most job postings include a specific job title. If you are looking to apply for a position as an Executive Assistant, but you do not have that title listed anywhere on your resume, you most likely will not be considered as a qualified candidate. The first thing hiring managers look for on a resume is relevant experience in a similar role.

Next, most job postings include a required number of years of experience. If the job description is asking for candidates with seven to ten years of experience and you only have two years, then the position is probably not a great fit for you.

Job postings often list a required amount of education, as well. If they say a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree is necessary, then it is not worth your time to apply if you do not have the required degree. The same goes for specific certifications or clearances.

Another qualification to keep an eye out would be required software skills or experience. If a job posting says that all applicants must have experience writing HTML code or working with QuickBooks software, then you should not apply unless you can demonstrate to a potential employer that you have worked with that software in the past.

Needless to say, these are not hard and fast rules – there are always exceptions for special circumstances. There are also definitely gray areas where postings do not specifically list the necessary qualifications. Simply use your best judgment to decipher whether or not you are truly qualified for each posting as you read it.

The Ultimate Interview Preparation

While you can’t predict exactly what questions you will be asked in a job interview, you can prepare yourself to answer almost any question by organizing your thoughts ahead of time. Prior to your next interview, create a list of several real-life scenarios you have experienced where you had to deal with the following:

  1. A situation where you had to deal with unexpected or last minute problems
  2. A situation where you took initiative
  3. A situation where you had to work as part of a team/take the lead in a team environment
  4. A situation where you realized you made a mistake and had to correct it
  5. A situation where you had to work with a difficult person and how you handled it

By thinking of these situations ahead of time and preparing answers for each, you will be able to answer a variety of questions an interviewer might ask you. It can be very difficult to come up with answers on the fly, especially in a nerve-wracking situation like a job interview, so do yourself a favor by preparing your answers in advance. Behavioral questions are a very popular interview technique, because they not only allow an interviewer to learn more about an applicant’s behavior, they also test your communication and recall skills.

This kind of interview prep is similar to the studying you did before a big test at school. Rather than studying the required coursework, you are studying your own professional experience. Preparing answers to behavioral interview questions will force you to look closely at your own background and help refresh your memory prior to a job interview. Just like studying for a test, the more interview preparation you do, the higher your chances are of acing your next interview.

Maintaining Professional Social Media Pages

Social media can be a great resource for job seekers, but it can also be a large hindrance for those who don’t monitor their pages’ content. Make sure your social media pages present you as an employable, respectable professional before using them as a resource in your job hunt. Even if you don’t use Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter to help you network and apply for jobs, some organizations go out of their way to check social media pages before presenting a candidate with a job offer. Read over our tips below to make sure your social media pages present you as a great candidate to any potential employer.

  1. Use a professional, flattering photo as your profile picture or avatar. This means no pictures of you in your Halloween costume, making a funny face, or partying in college.
  2. Set your privacy settings accordingly. If there are any inappropriate or unprofessional pictures or posts on your social media page that you cannot delete, make sure they are not visible to anyone who visits your page.
  3. Delete anything you wouldn’t want a potential boss or coworker to see. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so even if you think your pictures are completely private, it might just be better to get rid of them.
  4. Link your social media pages to an email address you don’t list on your resume. Changing your name on Facebook or using a nickname on Twitter does not mean an employer can’t find your profile. If your profile is linked to the same email address you have on your resume, all an employer has to do is search for that email address to find your profile.

Keeping your social media pages looking professional and presentable will definitely help you in your job search. Don’t give potential employers any excuse to disregard you as an applicant by making sure your social media pages present you as a desirable, hirable professional.

Networking

When you are unemployed, it’s important to take advantage of every resource you have in order to find a job. While you are submitting your resume to every job posting you feel qualified for, you should also pursue some less traditional means. For example, networking is a great way to learn about new job opportunities and get your name in with the right people.

You should discuss your career goals with your friends and even your former colleagues. Your friends are great networking tools, especially if they work in a similar industry. They might know of companies in your industry that are hiring, or have connections to such companies. If your friend is employed and satisfied with their current career, they might not pay attention to job openings they hear about. That’s why it’s important for you to let them know you are in the market for work, so they can keep an ear out for you. Also, if any of your former coworkers left to work at a new company, than that company is a great place to look into. They are clearly hiring candidates with a similar background and experience to your background, and your former coworker could provide a reference on your behalf to the hiring supervisor.

Linked In is another useful networking resource. You can use the professional networking website to connect with hiring managers, former colleagues and the like. Also, you can ask your former supervisors or colleagues to provide recommendations for you to post on your profile. These recommendations are a great resource to bring to job interviews. They also boost your chances of getting an interview if a hiring manager looks you up on Linked In after reviewing your submitted resume. Companies will post job openings on their Linked In page, so it’s a good idea to connect with companies you are interested in working for as well.

Do not leave any resource untapped when searching for new employment. Help could come from anywhere, and you don’t want to miss out on a great opportunity.