6 Things Veterans Should Consider When Accepting a Job Offer

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(U.S. Army/Sgt. Alexandra Shea)

Eventually, the work and the effort put into finding a job is going to pay off. Any veteran who translates their military skills to the civilian world is diligent about applying to jobs, and anyone who networks and tailors their résumé and cover letter for the job to which they’re applying likely will get an interview.

That interview will lead to more interviews and, eventually, an offer. But separating veterans who worry so much about finding work in their post-military life may suddenly find out that they hadn’t considered the day-to-day lifestyle their new job might entail.

Everyone worries about finding that job, but here are a few things to consider when one of those jobs -- or more than one -- finally is offered.

1. A Livable Salary

It sounds like this one is obvious, but many vets who are worried about finding a job -- any job -- might lowball themselves in just trying to secure a paycheck. But if that paycheck isn’t actually a livable wage based on your real budgetary needs, it’s not going to do you much good.

As a separating military member, you have the time to look for work while you get paid. If you suddenly transition from the military and become dependent on a job that doesn’t pay enough to make your bills, you may find yourself in need of a new job, with less time to look. Even worse, you might have to find a part-time job to make ends meet, with zero time to look for good work.

2. Checking the Paperwork

If a recruiter, human resources representative or some company official gave you a verbal job offer, make sure that the offer you were told about matches any paperwork you’re likely to sign. This includes not just wages or salary, but also any health and dental benefits and 401(k) matches.

For many new hires, just the idea of getting that first big post-military job could mean you’re willing to sign whatever paperwork is put in front of you just to get to day one. But you aren’t in the military anymore, and there’s no one looking out for you. Take the time to read any employment contracts and make sure you get what was promised.

3. Last-Minute Surprises

Any recruiter or HR executive will tell you that when it comes time to accept or reject a job offer, there should be no surprises on either side of the table. This means you have owned up to any shortcomings or fibs on your résumé or background check and that the employer clearly has laid out its expectations and offered pay packages.

This also means that you should have done some research on the company you’re about to go to work for. You should know the company’s financial status, where you stand in the reporting structure or any other significant changes to your role there. If something suddenly comes up at the last minute, pause and consider the new situation before signing on.

4. The Commute

By the time you are deciding whether to accept a job offer, you should have done a couple of dry runs for the commute from your place to your potential new job. At the very least, you could have insisted that the interview be held at the building in which you’ll be working.

If this seems like a trivial thing to you, consider that many companies have a policy that all of its employees must live within a 50-mile radius of their workplace. Getting to work on time and ready to collaborate is important to everyone. It’s also very important to your well-being.

5. Turnover at the Company

This information might be a little more difficult to find, but there are a lot of websites out there where previous or current employees are able to comment on the quality of their working life. Your company might have a high turnover rate, which basically refers to the rate at which employees leave jobs and which company fills those positions.

A high turnover rate might be inconsequential, the result of recent changes or an acquisition. It also could have a much more negative meaning. The company culture could be toxic, the management ineffective or there’s a lack of upward mobility.

6. Upward Mobility

No one wants to work in the same job forever. Everyone wants the capability to learn more, do more or take on more responsibilities at work. But they also want the possibility that those responsibilities come with increased pay, a better title and a more generous compensation package.

You can look to employer review sites for this information, but it’s also perfectly acceptable to bring this up at any point in the interview process. Finding out whether the company prefers to hire its managers and executives by promoting from within is a common question to ask an interviewer.

- Blake Stilwell can be reached at blake.stilwell@military.com. He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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