3 Common Mistakes To Avoid When You Receive Your First Job Offer

I have been working for over 5 years. By working, I mean receiving a monthly salary or offering a service in exchange for money. When I have conversations with my friends about work, something that comes up a lot is dissatisfaction with salary or how they felt locked into collecting a poor salary for whatever reason. In Naira Life, I also read a lot about these mistakes and so I have decided to share some things to consider before accepting a job offer.

Photo by Daniela Holzer on Unsplash

1. Accepting the first offer you get immediately

Getting a job offer can be very exciting, especially when you’ve been looking for a job for a while. Even if you’re satisfied with everything in the offer, take your time before accepting it. Even if the salary is 3 times what you expected. Are there other benefits listed? In my opinion, all job offers should have health insurance, pension, sick days, and leave days listed at the very least. If you’re lacking one of these, you should ask questions.

Always have someone else look over your contracts and offers, preferably a lawyer. This is because there are things that you may not understand for example non compete clauses (you want to try as much as possible to not sign these), things relating to intellectual property, and more.

If an offer has an expiry date and it doesn’t work for you, let your contact person know that you need an extension on it because you need to review it with your family or lawyer or friend. It doesn’t really matter who you say. If you have another offer or are in the interview stage with another company, you can also use that to ask for an extension.

Don’t be afraid that you’ll lose your offer because you took time to think about it. Hiring is a very lengthy stressful process for both parties, and if you’ve made it to the offer stage, they like you and they want you. So don’t feel pressured to accept an offer immediately.

Except where clearly stated, you can almost always get a better offer.

Which brings me to the second mistake people make.

2. Not negotiating or asking questions about your offer

The best way to be successful at negotiations is to always be willing to walk away. If you don’t have this option, you’ll keep on taking things you’re not comfortable with or things that leave you feeling unhappy at the end.

All the times I’ve been unhappy about an offer I accepted were the times I felt like I didn’t have any choice but to take it. Before you get into negotiations, you have to consider what your breaking point is. Whatever that minimum point is, add 50%. (There’s no science to the percentage, but always add a little more than what your first figure is because we tend to underprice ourselves). If you’re paid per hour, do you get overtime? How is that calculated?

The best negotiation comes from expanding the pie, creating a win win situation for everyone involved. When negotiating, you always want to look at the total package. What matters to you? What matters to them? Outside of salary, what else can you get? More time off? A personal development fund? remote work? Working 4 days a week instead of 5? Leave allowance? Catered lunch? Transport stipend?

Do you get a severance package? I’m singling out this question because it was something I didn’t take note of in my first job, and when I was laid off due to a reorgarnisation, I was left with 0.

3. Not considering deductions

Imagine you get a job offer of 200,000. You’re excited. But at the end of the month, what you get is N175,000. What has happened? That my friend, is a little thing known as deductions (and includes things such as taxes and pension).

When you’re talking job offers, you need to be clear about what deductions are being made. Always ask for a breakdown of salary. I have seen cases where someone’s gross salary is 350,000 but their net salary (the amount they actually get) is less than 200,000. You want to see exactly how much is going to your pension (you also want to ensure that your employer is matching your pension).

You should be more concerned about your net income than your gross income, but you should still pay attention to your deductions.

Photo by Andreas Weiland on Unsplash

I’ve made these three mistakes at different points in my career and I was very unhappy either when the jobs ended or while I was there because I felt like I had undersold myself or had been cheated out of something. Since I started paying attention to these things, I’ve felt more satisfied in my jobs.

Remember, employers are not doing you a favour. This is a mutually beneficial relationship. You’re being offered a job because you bring value to the organisation. Nobody is going to offer you a job just because. They need you as much as you need them.

Additional Resources

This is one of my favourite articles on negotiating job offers and it goes into great detail about how to handle the process.

You can also listen to this episode of Work Life: “The Science of the Deal”

Read this article on multiple equivalent simultaneous offers.

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Lade Tawak

Lade Tawak

UX (Research + Consulting + Writing). Design Thinking Facilitator. Writer. Editor. Christian. Feminist. Psychology Grad. Interests are wide and varied.