Career / Career Progression

How to Decide Which Job Offer to Accept

by Bruce Alexander
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Published on June 4, 2019

Congratulations on the job offer. More to the point: Offers. This is likely something you didn't expect. Or perhaps you did, depending on your personality. In either case, you now are faced with a decision that some may envy — too many good options. Here's how to decide which job to take.

Carefully Evaluate the Job Offers

Like any other in life, the task of evaluating job offers needs to be approached with logic and workmanship. The impulse may be to sell yourself to the highest bidder. Resist this temptation until you've carefully weighed the two options.

You've likely researched the company before your interview. However, if you didn't go beyond a look at the public profile, now is the time. Today, we have resources that make a deep dive far easier than in the past. In days of yore, prospective employees had to ask around town or chat with the receptionist to answer a critical question: Are the people at this company happy?

Today, you have many more tools at your disposal. To get a better picture of a potential new work environment, you can:

  • Look at their Glassdoor profile

  • Find people who used to work for them on LinkedIn

  • Talk to people who currently work for them

  • Take any of the above people (or several) to lunch

The pay may be adequate. It may even be spectacular to the point of making you salivate. But if the culture is one step above a salt mine, is this the place you want to potentially spend the next 10 (or even two) years? The pay and benefits may be excellent, but you may be selling yourself for song. Consider your salary spread across the hours of work and after-hours periods of stress. It may not be worth it.

Analyze the Offers and Ask Questions

Analyze the offers by listing your wants and needs regarding your new venture, then use the intel you've gathered to evaluate both companies based on those concerns. You may find some deal breakers. Remember:

  • What matters to you?

  • What do you value more? A high salary or the ability to display your full potential?

Listen to your gut. Did you know the gut is sometimes referred to as our second brain? There's a reason for that. If it doubts, ask more questions.

There are some questions you can ask prospective employers — and some you can't. For example, don't ask how soon you can get a raise before you get the job. Is the question pragmatic? Yes, but it can still mark you as questionable. Prospective employers look for someone who focuses on their niche, not their payday.

However, if you have questions about the role, manager, or culture — fire away. You are interviewing them as much as they're interviewing you. These may or may not have been touched on in the interview:

  • Is there a stock purchase plan?

  • What health insurance providers are available?

  • Are there employee enrichment offerings?

  • What retirement options are available?

  • Could you elaborate on my opportunities to advance?

If you can pose leading questions, it will often get the people around the table talking. Be friendly and non-confrontational. After all, you could be working with this person soon. Make a good impression.

The Big Decision: Accept, Decline, or Counteroffer

Once the offer is on the table, it is common to either accept or decline. But there is a third option, too.

In professional positions, it is expected that a prospective employee will negotiate. This depends on how high into the stratosphere you've flown. Don't be too pushy if it's a job on the help desk. There is an army of techs just like you. However, you can comfortably make reasonable counteroffers if you are near six figures. They may not be accepted, but it's not like they'll pull the offer, either.

Reasonable questions and counter-offers should be expected by a recruiter or interviewer looking for a high-end professional. But also consider the entire package. Someone who knows what they want and goes for the gold ring may impress them if questions are posed tactfully and respectfully. If they seem irritated at your (reasonable) counteroffer, maybe that tells you something.

While you consider your options, don't lose sight of one thing: What really matters to you?

Should You Take a Job You Don't Want?

Maybe. It all depends on the answer to where it will take your career. For example, you find out that the environment is a pressure cooker. The expectations outweigh the compensation. However, the company is a player and a prestigious giant in the industry. It will look good on the resume, and you know you can handle the pressure long enough for this move to bolster your marketability.

Does this seem callous? That depends, too, on many factors. But again… this is your career. What matters is you, your family, your future. Choosing to benefit yourself is not criminal. At this point, in this economy and in the current landscape of how business is done, you are marked as a player. Do what's best for you. Then, when you can't stand it anymore, move on gracefully.

Make Your Choice and Your Move

You've considered the offers. It's time to break the (hopefully) bad news. This can be a critical time. You want to exit with grace. You want to be remembered fondly. It's no time for short-timer's syndrome.

Give your employer notice, and perhaps ask how much notice they would like. Be generous. You know your start date for the new position by this point. If you're lucky, the two will line up. If not, you'll have to adjust your generosity diplomatically.

Don't sweat it too much. Most bosses will understand. They've been there. And with luck, you'll have a few days of downtime in between to recharge the batteries and prep for the new gig. Good luck!


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