What to determine before you take a job

May 27, 2010 at 11:30 am Leave a comment

When it comes time to decide whether to accept an offer, job hunters tend to focus on four main concerns: salary, benefits, location and job title/position. And while that makes perfect sense, other elements of a job can have major implications for your work life and your career going forward. Those who leave a job often do so for reasons other than these main four — including frustration with a boss or co-workers, inability to move forward in the organization and grueling hours or other issues that lead to a toxic work environment.

So how does a smart job hunter determine well before it’s offer time whether this job and organization make sense for you? It’s tricky because the hiring process often doesn’t provide natural opportunities for checking out the nitty-gritty details of a position. In initial interviews, you’re trying to showcase your skills and pitch your fitness for a position — it can be awkward (and off-putting to a hiring manager) to ask too many specific questions about a job at that point. And before you know it, you’re at the end of the process and an offer is coming your way — but the strings attached may not be ones that make sense for you.

Hiring experts say that beyond negotiating salary and benefits, here are some things to figure out well before you take a job:

*Determine the reporting structure in the organization and how this position fits into that chain-of-command. Be clear not only on who will be your immediate supervisor, but who supervises that person, and also whether there is anyone with whom you may have a “dotted-line” reporting relationship. Try to gain information on their priorities and working style — and whether you think you’d be comfortable working with them. The hiring manager you spent some time getting to know during the hiring process may not be the person you will be spending a great deal of time working with if you take this job. Figure out what would be your place in the structure and make sure you feel comfortable with that. Also, determine as best you can whether various supervisors may be competing for your time — that could end up being a frustrating and no-win situation for a new employee. And try to figure out whether the department had recently been reorganized — in that situation, you may have some flexibility in shaping the position (which could be exciting!) but there may also be some things-are-shaking-out disruption, which could be stressful, especially if you weren’t aware of it going in.

*Be clear on the job duties and expectations. Often in the interview process, so much time is spent discussing the organization and the job generally, but little attention may be given to just what you’d be doing every day in this position. Make sure you’re clear on such elements as how much time will be spent on various tasks, whether you would be supervising others, whether and how much you’d need to travel, how often you’d be working on deadlines, and what types of short and long-term projects you’d be handling. And then make sure you’re comfortable with how much time you’d be spending on various duties and whether that seems a good fit for your skills. Also, ask how your performance will be monitored and reviewed. It may seem awkward to ask a string of specific questions to a hiring manager, but some of these things could create major stress later in your life, so better to find out before you accept an offer. And sometimes the job title — especially if it’s broad, as in “media manager” — could mean a lot of things, so get specifics about just what you’d be doing.

*Size up the opportunities for moving forward in the organization. It’s smart for a job candidate to be interested in a position because of possibilities for future promotion or shifts to other jobs in the company. Yet before joining, ask a lot of questions about how and when you’d be able to move to other positions. Many organizations have strict rules about when you could leave a job (for entry-level positions, it’s often a year, and for more senior positions, it could be several years) and it’s important to know that going in. Carefully research how others in the organization got their jobs, and how many were promoted from within — and their path to getting there. If internal promotion to the types of positions you’d like to snare is common, figure out in the hiring process the best paths to take and try to get yourself on one. If the organization tends to hire from the outside for jobs you’d be interested in down the road, that should give you pause — especially if you were considering this company largely because of the possibility of future opportunities.

*The “Help a New Grad Land a Job Challenge” is off to a roaring start — a dozen or so matches already are in the works! And while I initially thought this would be a largely D.C.-centric initiative, I’m getting requests from new grads from many locales — besides the D.C. area, we’ve already set up matches in the Midwest (Chicago and Mpls.) and have one pending in California. So if you’re interested in mentoring a new or recent grad to help them snare a job, no matter your location, please let me know — we’re getting more requests for mentors than we have volunteers at this point! Thanks to all, and I hope we’ll have some good news to share soon about grads landed well. There is hope!

*Here’s an upcoming networking and training event on June 14 at Gannett/USA Today HQ in McLean for those excited about what the new iPad could mean for the future of publishing:

Event: Tabula Rasa DC
When: June 14th, from 1pm to 4:30pm
Where: Gannett, Inc./USAToday Campus, 7950 Jones Branch Drive, Mclean , VA 22107
On April 29 we launched Tabula Rasa NYC just as the first iPads were coming out of the box. We showcased the most impressive apps from a creative class of innovators. We explained how to navigate the App Economy. And we showed how to develop an apptitude for developing content and commerce for the Digital Now.

A million iPads have been unboxed in just a few weeks. 2300 pay-for apps are now creating cash flow on the iTunes store. Only one question remains: What’s your app?

We’re bringing Tabula Rasa to the Gannett-USAToday campus from 1-4:30 pm on June 14 to help you answer the question.

And the event program is as follows:
12:30 pm: Registration at Gannett conference center
1 pm: The Apportunity
In just a few weeks, a stunning future has emerged with new markets, audiences and opportunities. We’ll describe how it both disrupts and enhances personal computing and digital communications. We’ll demo the best, early responses and measure their success. And we’ll show where this moment of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship leads.
– Design-driven innovation
– Shiny new things
– Everyone, everything, everywhere
– Right>Brain Rules
1:45: Apponomics
Please don’t ask “where’s the money?”
Play and prosper in the App Economy.
– How to profit
– Open vs. Apple
– The balance sheet
– Creating good
– Engagement
2:30: Meet the DaVincis: Networking and coffee break at our Genuis Bar
3:00 Apptitude

How to get it. Get down with developers.
– Fast company
– What to do. And with whom.
– Test drives
3:30: Throwdown DC
Demo your so-cool app and get some good back from DC’s top innovators

Please RSVP to Dale Peskin dale@wemedia.com or click here

*As always, some fresh job leads to check out:

*For a transitioning journalist with an extensive background in telecommunications policy, this could be an interesting opportunity — the National Telecommunications and Information Administration in the Department of Commerce has an opening in D.C. for a communications program specialist:
Communications Program Specialist
Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Admin – Washington, DC
Safety Interoperable Communications Program, and the… to possess a positive response to an experience, training, or awards question. Candidates are encouraged… $105,211 – $136,771 a year
From usajobs.gov

*The Washington Hospital Center in D.C. is looking for senior employee communications specialists:
Senior Employee Communications Specialist Jobs
Washington Hospital Center – Washington, DC
Senior Employee Communications SpecialistDepartment… in communications, journalism or related discipline, and seven or more years of progressive communications
From Bragfolio

*The Vinyl Institute, a trade association based in Alexandria, has an opening for a vice president of marketing and communications:

Vice President of Marketing & Communications
The Vinyl Institute – Alexandria, VA
marketing and communications plan that promotes… and efficiently execute the marketing and communications budget.   Reports directly to the association…
From ASAE & The Center

*For those with a health care background looking for an opportunity in public affairs/policy work, Molina Healthcare has an opening in D.C. for a regional director of state affairs:

Regional Director State Affairs
Molina Healthcare – Washington, DC
Requirements Education: Bachelor’s degree required – political science, communications, English major preferred. JD preferred. Experience: 7-10 years of…
From Molina Healthcare

*Here’s an opportunity in Baltimore for someone seeking some targeted Web experience — the office of the Baltimore City Council President is looking for a tech-savvy person to run a political Web site:

Seeking a tech-savvy individual, who has a strong writing and editing background

The individual should have prior experience managing an html-based web site and be proficient in Dreamweaver and Adobe software.

Duties include, but are not limited to the following: Re-designing and managing a political web site; revamping a newsletter and taking over responsibilities associated with weekly distribution; assisting in writing brief speeches, talking points and press releases.

Prior video editing experience is a plus.

The contact is Lester Davis, Chief Press Officer, 410-396-4804 or lester.davis@baltimorecity.gov.

*And to wrap up today’s leads, the DCCC has an opening in D.C. for a new media program manager:

The New Media Program Manager will be responsible for helping with the design and launching of websites, online advertising efforts (including display, search and netroots) in coordination with the IE program’s television, radio, and mail advertising programs. Ideal candidate will have the unique ability to provide technical, design and strategic advice to the DCCC’s IE program regarding all of their new media efforts and would have experience managing a multitude of vendors.

The New Media Director reports to the Deputy IE Director.

Interested parties should email Lila Rose at Rose2010@dccc.org. No phone calls please. All applicants will be considered without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including marital or parental status), disability, or age. Please e-mail cover letter and resume, including links to portfolio or completed projects, and salary requirements to: rose2010@dccc.org

Happy hunting!



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