I know that in this type of job market it's hard to pass up an opportunity, but sometimes in the end it can cause more of an economic hardship than before. There are a few questions you should ask yourself before committing to a job position. I asked myself all three of these (and more) before I signed any papers. The order of these questions varies from person to person, but this is how I prioritized them:

1) Should I engage in salary negotiation?

This is not the most desirable way to begin your potential career at a company; however, it is an important part of considering an offer. To make this process most effective, do your research. What are other people in your field making? What is the benefits package? Is the salary fair compared to the geographic location and cost of living? Agreeing to an entry-level salary in an expensive city like New York was difficult, but the benefits package and knowing my salary was comparable to most every other recent college graduate's in the city, made it easier to take the plunge.  

2) Can I afford to take this position?

            This was the most important question I asked myself before taking the job. If you cannot negotiate for a higher salary, it's even more important to create a monthly budget. I talked with my family and friends, and between all of us, I believe we created a successful budget. Getting input from people that have already walked in your shoes is a very valuable tool. Don't be afraid or ashamed to ask for help with this daunting process. My family and friends provided insight I may have overlooked. Some of the big-ticket items in my budget include:

  • Rent
  • Groceries
  • Public transportation
  • Health insurance
  • 401k
  • Student loans

Even though it's the big-ticket items that put the biggest dent in your wallet, make sure you account for the little ones, as well--they have a habit of adding up very quickly. Dry-cleaning, magazines, music downloads, and clothing all have a place in your budget, so try not to leave them out. Also, don't forget about basic entertainment like movies, concerts, and nights out with friends.  

3) Can I imagine working comfortably and effectively in this company's environment?

Sometimes we can get so caught up in the moment of actually landing a job that we forget to look at the finer details; for instance, if we even liked the interviewer. Hopefully you have interviewed with at least one person you'll work with. This will give you a sense of the culture and personalities in your department and the company overall. It is important to consider this for the longevity of your career at the company. Your success and happiness may be compromised if it's not the right fit. Trust your instincts, and try to gauge this as best you can during the interview process.

You should be asking many other questions before signing papers, but these three will give you a good starting point. Remember these were the most important for my situation. What are yours? Good luck and happy job hunting!

Michelle Reed

Michelle is an ambitious college graduate from the Midwest relocating to New York City to pursue her career in Social Media Marketing. She is a contributing writer for the Just Graduated & Starting Out blog. Despite it being one of the most expensive cities in the world, Michelle feels that she will be able to succeed in the Big Apple with the financial tips and tricks she has learned throughout her college years. Follow her journey of budgeting, sacrificing, and ultimately surviving on an entry level salary in the city. Compensated CareOne Blogger.