When you are looking for work, it’s vital that you end up in the right job. In times when competition for vacancies is strong, it’s very tempting to take the first position you are offered without really establishing if it is in fact the long-term career opportunity you had in mind. Many job adverts are less than detailed and it’s easy to lose focus on what you’re really looking for.
Here are some questions you really ought to ask before you accept that job offer together with some useful phrases you can use to get your message across clearly.
A clearly written job description should describe in detail where you will fit into the bigger picture. It should talk about the company’s mission statement and vision for the future as well as the day to day duties you will be expected to carry out.
If you are left wondering about what your role will be and what value you can add to it, seek clarification by asking the following questions.
- How does this role add value to the company’s mission statement?
- Can you explain to me how my contribution will be evaluated?
- What potential will there be for me to learn and progress within the company?
While a job description focuses on the actual role itself, the person specification more fully describes the type of candidate who will be most likely to carry out that role best. The person specification should set out details of what qualifications, prior experience, skills and abilities are required by the role.
If you’re not sure if you’re the right person for the job, try asking the following questions.
- What would you say are the essential criteria in this person specification?
- How do you decide whether a candidate has the right skill set for this position?
- What are the most valuable strengths a candidate should have to really excel in this role?
A common omission from job advertisements is salary details. This can be frustrating for applicants for two reasons; firstly, they don’t know if the job is paying enough for them to be interested in applying in the first place, and secondly, it can appear that the employer is going to offer the job to the person who asks for the lowest wage, which gives a poor impression of the company.
Before you even complete the application form, try asking the following questions.
- What is the salary range offered with this position?
You probably won’t be able to pin the recruiter down to a precise figure, but they should be prepared to give you a range between which the salary for that role sits.
- What’s the company policy on annual pay increases?
Some companies base their annual pay rises on performance. If this is the case, you need to understand more about how their performance review system works and what you’d need to do to qualify for a raise.
- What other benefits are offered as part of the remuneration package?
You need to know if a pension, bonus or discount shopping vouchers are included which would effectively make the base salary figure much higher.
Some job adverts are pretty skimpy with details on important areas like annual leave entitlement, sickness pay and the like. This could indicate that they have a virtually zero tolerance on staff sickness absence. Some companies withhold annual pay increases if a member of staff has a few days off sick during the year, although, they would never reveal that in a job advert!
Be careful how you phrase your questions on potentially deal-breaking subjects like sickness; you don’t want the recruiter to think that you are intending to take a lot of time off ill!
The best policy is to ask if you can have a look over the company’s Employee Procedure Manual or if that’s not possible, check out their social media sites for any information; past and present staff often reveal a lot more information than the recruiter will!
Learning to interpret and question in more detail what’s expected of a company’s employees as well as what they have to offer their staff is a valuable skill to acquire when you’re a job seeker. Make your questions succinct and direct and always be polite and friendly in tone. If the company is a good one to work for, they should be pleased to provide you with the information you’re asking for.
When a company appears secretive or reluctant to divulge more detail about how they operate, this should be a clear red flag to candidates.
Image source: Marsden Associates