By Marian Li, Toppel Peer Advisor

The hardest part is over, the hiring manager called with great news: the job is yours! It’s smooth sailing from here, right? Maybe not. Determining whether to take a job offer can – and should – be a difficult decision. If you’re eager to get out of your current job or if it’s the job of your dreams, then it can be tempting to accept the offer; but before you take the job, you need to evaluate the situation carefully. Experts say that people switch jobs on average every three to four years, which means that being able to evaluate a job offer is a critical skill for today’s college grad and aspiring professional.

Shape the offer along the way When the hiring manager or recruiter calls you with the offer, it shouldn’t be the first time you discuss specifics. People should have a conversation about their aspirations for the job way before the point of the offer. Answering questions like, “what are you looking for in your next role?” honestly will increase the likelihood that the offer that’s extended includes things on your wish list. Deciding whether or not to take a job usually isn’t a simple yes or no choice, so prepare for the offer conversation as a negotiation. Rarely should you accept something at face value, if you don’t ask for anything you’re missing an opportunity.

More Research – One of the biggest mistakes that people make is not finding out enough about their potential employer. Dig around for as much information as you can about the organization, the culture, and your future co-workers. There’s a surprising amount of material people can sift through nowadays. Finding out what you can about the organization’s future prospects is crucial as well, determining the company’s future can help you ascertain the industry as well as your future job security.

Interrupted Timeline – But what if you receive your first offer when you’re still interviewing with or have just sent your resume to other employers? The job searching process for each company almost never syncs so you need to be realistic about your prospects. Look at the applications you have under way and reasonably assess which are likely to get to offer. Compare the offer in hand against a wish list of what you really want in a job. You’ll have to accept that sometimes, good enough will have to do.

If you decide to say no – Saying no to a job offer can be complicated. You’ve sent in your resume, shown up for a series of interviews, and the employer likely assumes you want the job. The LAST thing you want is for the company to think you played them. Don’t string them along. If you realize during the interview process that there’s a high chance you won’t accept the offer, let the hiring manager know out of courtesy so they can focus on more viable candidates. If you say no, remember that a lot goes into generating an offer. People have invested time and may have gone to bat for you. Never imply that the job or salary was to blame. Instead, focus on what’s not a good fit. This will keep the door open for the future.

I’m not saying this is an easy decision, but being smart can go a long way.