So You Got A Job Offer, Not What?
I’ve had the pleasure of talking with a lot of budding journalists, meteorologists, and sports anchors lately as I continue my work to break down some barriers between news managers and employees. One question that keeps coming up is when they get that first job offer. This is for all of you!
Not since that one birthday when you got the best gift ever have you been THIS excited. You have a job offer. You have a chance to work in a newsroom. How wonderful! What do you do now?
Get your head right.
It’s too easy in the blur of a phone conversation with numbers and start dates and your nerves to miss the important parts of what was just offered to you and what you should do next.
A few pieces of advice and take it for whatever value you think it’s worth. In the end, you have to do what is right for you.
#1 GET IT IN WRITING
Get the offer in writing, whether it’s a formal offer letter or a quick email summarizing the conversation. If they won’t give it to you right away, try typing up an email and sending it to them with something like “I just want to make sure these are the numbers, start dates, and benefits we discussed.” Even if they just say “Yes, I’ll send a formal offer letter”, at least you have SOMETHING in writing. If it’s not in writing it didn’t happen.
#2 GET THE WRITING REVIEWED
I see too many people who don’t understand the contracts they signed, or who say “That’s not in my contract” when – yep – there it is on page 4. Reach out to an attorney, preferably one who specializes in contract law, just to review and explain parts you don’t understand. Even if the company says, “We aren’t going to change anything”, that doesn’t mean YOU shouldn’t do your due diligence. Isn’t a couple of hundred bucks of an attorney fee worth knowing what you are signing for the next two years?
#2 THINK ABOUT IT FOR 24 HOURS
Even if you know it’s the job of all jobs and you are ready to go, take 24 hours to consider it. Don’t ask for longer periods of time because that just signals you are playing one job off another or you have doubts. If you need a longer timeline for a decision, be clear upfront.
#3 DON’T FALL FOR VERBAL DANGLING CARROTS
Maybe they say, “We sometimes let producers fill in as a reporter, and that might be possible for you”, or “In a few months, we might be able to have you fill in anchor!” or “We have a sports opening coming up this winter and we’ll consider you for it!”. None of that means anything – unless it’s in writing.
Too many News Manager leave their jobs abruptly (whether willingly or they get let go) and that promise isn’t worth anything. Some have selective memories. I was once told I was going to be the next-level manager at a station, only to watch someone I’ve never met come in and take that same job. I wasn’t even interviewed for it. Another time I was a single day away from a promotion that was verbally agreed on and the News Director got let go. The new News Director had no intention of putting me in that job.
On the flip side, I’ve had so many people tell me “I was promised I’d be Sports Director” or “I was told I was getting a big raise this summer” when nothing was in writing. If it’s not in writing, it didn’t happen.
You can go into the situation knowing they see that potential in you but don’t make a move or job change just because of that promise. Also, don’t take the job and then ho-hum until you get those chances. You have to show you are going to slay your real job before you get the chance for more duties.
#4 WHEN IT RAINS, IT POURS
You might have been in a job desert for a long time, thinking nobody was ever going to hire you. Then one station does, and faster than they can say “We’d like to offer you…”, another 2-3 calls come in from other stations. It’s just how the law of job searching works. It’s feast or famine.
Be transparent with anyone who calls you about where you stand on the job search. “I’ve already got an offer on the table, so I need to know more about your timeline.” Tell the first station “Since we spoke last week, I have gotten a few more calls and I’d like to do those interviews. Would that work in your timeline?”
You don’t want to risk always waiting for the next best thing. I’ve had people I’ve thoroughly interviewed and had verbally agreed to the terms – heck one even had the offer letter! When the letter was delayed being sent back, I knew this person was bailing. When I probed about it, I was told “Nope! I’m still in!” only for more hours to go by without the signed letter. I started scheduling more interviews for the position. I knew this person was never going to walk into my newsroom. Turns out they got another call and asked me to wait a week essentially to see if they could get the job they liked better.
Nope. I can’t wait. Best of luck to you.
Just be as open as you can about your job search/offer status and you can ask the same about the employer. “Am I the first person you’ve offered this job to?”, “When do you plan on making a decision as I ‘ve got interviews scheduled through next week and I want to make sure I’m open with everyone?”, etc.
#5 YOU CAN ASK, BUT….
You want the move paid? Clothing allowance? Cell phone reimbursement? Makeup? Training? It’s okay to ask about all of that, just don’t get your hopes up in that first job. Extras like that have gone away generally in the past 5-10 years. Your station might have a trade agreement with a salon – ask about that.
#6 LISTEN TO YOUR GUT BUT *REALLY LISTEN
So, you got everything you ever wanted, the offer is on the table and this is the moment you couldn’t wait for – yet why do you feel so empty and confused inside?
If your gut is telling you “no”, give it an ear. Listen to it. Try to find out why there’s that sinking feeling in your belly.
Don’t mistake fear for a “bad gut feeling”. You have to sharpen your emotional intelligence to differentiate between the two. You might be anxious or scared or insecure. That’s not a bad gut, that’s bad self-esteem or nerves.
When I moved away from home the first time, clear across the country, I couldn’t WAIT to be far away from my hometown and explore. I prayed for it. I worked for it. I got it. I took my dad to the airport and went back to my crappy little apartment ready to be a grown woman doing her own things – and promptly cried because I wanted my mommy. I wasn’t homesick, I was just rocked by the sheer change of it all. There were moments of homesickness, but then there were moments of building a new home, making new friends, and doing what I was born to do.
So if you are sitting on a job offer wondering why you aren’t all excited, find out what the real emotion is behind it. Everyone around you is going to say “We don’t want you to go!” and that’s going to make it worse. But what should they say? “Get outta here – we never really liked you anyway and we can’t wait to redecorate your room!”? OF COURSE, they are going to miss you. They would hate to hold you back from your dreams at the same time.
All that said, if you still have a bad feeling in your gut – it just might not be the right job for you, or your intuition knows something you don’t. I can’t tell you what to do in this situation. I just want you to know that a sick feeling in the stomach can be a prediction – or just insecurity and fear rearing their ugly heads.
#7 DON’T APPLY SOMEWHERE YOU DON’T WANT TO LIVE (OR WON’T ACCLIMATE TO)
This seems like a “Duh, Jennifer”, but you’d be surprised. I’ve spent hours on phone interviews with people or working to get them a higher starting salary, only to have them say “No, I don’t want to live in that place” or “No, I can’t afford to live there.” Please do some due diligence ahead of time, to save us both time. I recently spoke to an amazing up-and-coming newsroom candidate who got an offer and this person said to me “I never pictured living there” – I said, “THEN WHY DID YOU APPLY THERE??”
Now you might be thinking “Jennifer, didn’t you tell me to TAKE THE DAMN CALL?” I did. Here’s the difference. When you APPLY somewhere, you are saying “I’m interested in living there or learning about there.” It’s about a job. When someone reaches out to you to talk, and it’s a less desirable place, you SHOULD still take the call (and do research) – because that is about a relationship with that person and their company.
It’s also one thing to apply and do an exploratory call to learn about a job, but don’t keep them on the hook through 2-4 interviews if it’s not where you want to be. Racking up job offers doesn’t pay the bills. Again, News Directors talk to each other so you don’t want to risk “I bent over backward to make an offer and give that person everything they wanted, and then it turns out they don’t even like my city!”.
#8 KEEP YOUR HEAD RIGHT WHEN YOU MOVE
It’s going to be a little scary and weird to be away from home. You might actually hate where you live because it’s not “Home”…. Yet. Give it a chance. By chance, I mean at least six months if not a full year, before you decide it’s just not for you.
I promise you in the big picture of life you’ll look back on those years fondly, and with the way this business is going, you’ll get to bigger markets faster than ever!
You can still “Ask Me Anything”. Just shoot me a message on LinkedIn!