If you’re aching to leave your current job, you might be tempted to lunge at any seemingly reasonable job offer. But if you accept an offer without fully understanding its pros and cons, you might only end up jumping from the fire to the frying pan.
Some questions to help you identify the advantages and disadvantages of a job offer:
Do you really understand the opening? Many vacancy announcements for federal openings are written in vaguely generic terms that fail to specifically and realistically define the responsibilities of openings. And the demands and challenges of openings aren’t necessarily covered in interviews.
So if you’re offered a job that you don’t fully understand, don’t accept it before diplomatically asking your hiring manager to more fully explain it to you in a meeting or on the phone. Also, make sure you nail down who your supervisor would be. And if possible, seek insights from other feds who hold comparable jobs.
Would the salary increase of your target job be worth the additional responsibilities, stress and work hours it requires? Remember that if you’re currently stuck at the top step of your grade, a grade increase will immediately boost your salary as well as put within your reach otherwise inaccessible future within-grade step increases. In addition, salary increases will increase your TSP contributions and increase your “high-3.” But on the other hand, the net value of a big salary increase could be significantly reduced if your promotion bumps you into a higher tax bracket. Also, a job change may increase or decrease your commuting costs.
Would you be leaving an otherwise desirable job only to escape one particularly odious manager? If so, remember that your nemesis could unexpectedly leave his job at any time for another job, to retire or because of health or other reasons. So consider whether you should try to wait him out. Alternatively, are you targeting a particular opening solely because of your desire to work for a certain manager? If so, remember that if your target manager unexpectedly moves on from his job after you start working for him, your new job may quickly lose its appeal.
Would you jibe with the culture of your target organization? Remember: federal agencies differ from one another almost as much as do private organizations on factors such as their level of formality, hierarchy, bureaucracy and progressiveness; staff demographics; the comfort of office space; telecommuting options; and access to child care.
Ask your contacts in your target agency about such factors. Also, consider any clues about your target organization’s management and culture that were either overtly disclosed during application/interview processes or were reflected in the way that your application was handled.
Would changing jobs reduce your job security? Although RIFFs are relatively rare in the federal government, there are never any guarantees—particularly during these times of tight budgets. So research whether your target agency has a history of RIFFS. Also, consider that jobs in the Competitive
Service are generally more secure than jobs in the Excepted Service. And the budgets of agencies that have bipartisan support are usually safer than those that lack such support.
How prestigious is your target organization? The star power of your target organization may matter to you personally, and working for an organization with star power may help you land future jobs.