Receiving two job offers can be both a blessing and a curse. Use these tips to learn how to choose between job offers.
You refined your resume and cover letters, you shined in the interviews, you stayed positive and upbeat when the process was slow. Finally — a job offer!
And then another one. Now what?
From the outside, this might look like a great problem to have. Having multiple job offers to choose from is a luxury, no matter what the job market looks like. However, it may not seem that way to you as you fret over the offers, zooming in on the details that don't matter and feeling the pressure to act fast.
Your first move, if you have not done so already, is to get both offers in writing. It will ground your next steps for learning how to choose between job offers and give you the information you need to make a decision. Once you have the offer documents, here are three steps to take to organize your thoughts and help you avoid making a decision you may regret.
1. Dig deep
You have had an opportunity to meet your future boss, possibly even a few co-workers. In the hustle of interviews, it is tough to be present to the little details of your surroundings and interactions. Now is the time to recall them. Think through any possible red flags that you have picked up and write them down.
Trust your instincts before accepting a job offer! I once had a job interview where my interactions with a possible co-worker was a little off during the group interview. I chalked it up to nerves on both sides, but the dynamic with that co-worker actually caused me a lot of frustration after I accepted the job.
The signs could be subjective, with one meaning for you and a different meaning to someone else. For example, if your boss refers to the staff meeting space as “The War Room,” think about what that says about the tone of those meetings. Are you a good natural fit for that environment?
Use online resources to help you research how to choose between job offers. Glassdoor, Indeed, and LinkedIn are great places to start. Look for hints of company culture, work pace, and general trends that point to the company's being a good employer.
Compensation packages, health insurance, 401(k) contributions, commute, dress code — comparing those across two or more companies can make you dizzy! It is almost too much to keep in your head.
In fact, it is too much to keep in your head. Let's get it out on paper and organize it in a way that is helpful to your decision-making process for accepting a job offer.
Start by writing down the components of your compensation package: salary, bonus, profit sharing, tuition reimbursement, healthcare coverage, and 401(k) match. Remember to add non-monetary things as well: fit with company culture, rapport with your future boss and co-workers, length of your commute, the possibility of flexible work arrangements. If family leave is or will be important in the near future, write that down too.
Now that you have a list, choose five to six items that matter most. Be careful to look at your needs and wants in the short term as well as the long term. Then give each company a score between one and 10 for each of your priorities, with 10 being the best. When you add it all up, your result might look like this:
Based on the math analysis, Company No. 2 is the winner with a higher overall score.
Once you have this simple analysis done, think about one or two factors that matter most. Highlight them, so that you can pay attention to particularly high or low scores on those.
Related: Your Guide to Negotiating the Best Compensation Package
3. Do a gut check
Imagine yourself working in each of the spaces, interacting with clients and co-workers, grabbing lunch, and commuting. How does it feel? Which place allows you to be yourself and honors your talents and strengths?
If the math points you in the direction of a clear winner based on the numbers, and yet you dread making the phone call to accept the offer, pay attention to that feeling. If you have all relevant information, yet still find yourself stalling, ask yourself what that is about.
Bringing it all together
The internet is full of conflicting advice on how to choose between job offers. Some sites suggest you stall for time, while others recommend that you do complex analysis of the offers so you can make an informed decision.
I am a believer in the “Blink” concept — that we make a decision in the first few seconds, and then spend hours to gather data to back it up. A simple priorities list can help you focus on your values and consider details carefully. In my experience, anything much more complex than that just muddies the water.
Talk through the decision with someone who knows you well and whose judgment you trust. A family member, a friend, a mentor, or a coach could each bring their perspective and insight. I remember a conversation I had with a former boss and mentor as I was making the choice between two competing offers. His clarity and questions allowed me to take in the big picture and ultimately helped me make a good decision without burning any bridges.
Transparency is key to making the most of your situation. Tell them that you are interested in their company (you would not have gotten this far otherwise) and that you are considering multiple offers. Ask for their help in clarifying key points of the offer or filling in the points that are missing. The ideal outcome is that you accept the offer that is your best fit and burns no bridges with the runner-up.
Above all else, remember that having a choice puts you in a position of power. Look at what you stand to gain by accepting a job offer, trust your judgment, and go into the next steps excited about the possibilities — not regretting the lost opportunity.
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