Here are some hints and tips to get you started:

  • Be clear on what your starting salary will be, and whether you get additional salary for overtime.
  • What will be your working hours and are these fixed or might they vary at certain times of the year? Some types of work have significant seasonal fluctuations so you might have to work longer hours or ‘unsocial hours’ (working evenings or early mornings) at some times of the year (because some animals are only active at night time). Is that ok with you?
  • How will additional hours over and above your normal weekly hours be treated? Will you get overtime or ‘time off in lieu’ (i.e. you can work a shorter day or week to make up for a previous longer day or week)? No good employer will expect you to just extra hours for nothing.
  • What paid holiday will you get (over and above any public holidays)?
  • Will all your equipment, including any PPE (personal protective equipment provided for health and safety reasons) be provided? And if not, will your employer pay for this?
  • If you have to use your car for work purposes, will you get a mileage allowance to cover the costs of this?
  • Some employers might offer zero-hour contracts – so you get given work as and when it is available. Whilst this can suit people who want to be very flexible, do be very careful. This creates uncertainty as to your income and your employer may be less inclined to invest in your training and development.
  • What training and development opportunities will be provided? How can you progress within the organisation or company?
  • How does the prospective employer promote a diverse and inclusive culture?

CIEEM has produced some guidance on what good working practices look like, aimed at both employers and prospective employees. You can download a copy here: Professional Guidance Series: Good Working Practices (CIEEM).

CIEEM also has a list of private sector companies, called Registered Practices that have publicly committed to providing a good working environment for their staff. Other professional bodies may have something similar.