If you’ve ever been in the enviable position of getting multiple job offers, you know it feels like you won the lottery. Who doesn’t want to hear that several companies believe in you and want your expertise on their side? But this confidence boost soon fades when the anxiety of making the right choice takes over.
Choosing your next adventure is a big deal. It can have monetary, emotional, and even physical consequences—positive and negative. With all this swimming around in your mind, it can be difficult to focus, let alone make the decision that’s right for you. Below, I’ll outline some strategies that have enabled my candidates to pick their dream job.
Do some soul searching
Before you start your job search, figure out what’s important to you. Do you like working remotely? How do you want to be challenged? Are you comfortable with ambiguity or do you prefer structure? What is your ideal salary range? Next, think about why you’re leaving your current job. Perhaps there isn’t room for advancement. Maybe the technology is getting stale, or you’re not being challenged. Or, maybe, you’re frustrated because you don’t have enough time to spend with your kids or on hobbies.
While this exercise might sound overwhelming, having a baseline idea of what you don’t like in your position now and what you want in the future will make you happier in the long run. If you’re struggling, try contacting a recruiter—they are especially adept at helping you identify your must-haves.
Scrutinize your offers
Once you have your offers in hand, it’s time to examine them through the lens of what is important to you. Here are a few major elements to consider:
- The job itself – By the time you’ve received your offer, you know at least a little about what your day-to-day might look like when you join. Did the hiring manager define what success would look like 3, 6, 9 months down the line? Were those expectations reasonable? Does it seem like you’ll learn more at one company than the other? Do you think one role plays more to your strengths? Pull out your list of what is important to you again and make sure that at least one offer has tasks and responsibilities that line up with what you’re looking for.
- Compensation package – Just because one company offers you more base pay doesn’t mean they gave you a better overall compensation package. You need to consider other factors like the cost of benefits, 401k contributions, stock options, and frame these factors in the context of your unique needs. For example, if you’re young and healthy, your medical insurance may not need to be as comprehensive, and you might be willing to take lower base pay for more equity. On the flip side, someone a bit older may have a family that requires extensive coverage and be more risk-averse in terms of their salary.
- Work-life balance – Time away from work is almost as important as time spent at work. Take a look at each organization’s vacation and sick leave policies to ensure you have ample time off per year. Also, compare each offer in terms of flexibility. For instance, some companies are more lenient about the hours you need to be in the office or at your computer一a very helpful perk for busy parents or people taking care of elderly parents.
- Location – With some companies returning to the office full- or part-time, your new job location may be a deal-breaker. Map out the commute and gas you’ll need to get there. Are you willing to put in that much money and time? On the other hand, many companies are going fully remote. If you’ve not enjoyed working remotely during the pandemic, you might want to reassess what it will be like to continue working from home.
- Culture – Every organization has pluses and minuses, but evaluating culture as best you can is essential. Culture affects how the entire company behaves and conducts business. And if the company values don’t align with yours, the job is likely not going to be a good fit. It’s challenging to suss this out in an interview, so try to chat with an ex-employee. Of course, different people can have different perspectives on the same company, but at least you’ll get one more piece of information in your arsenal.
Turning down an offer
Is breaking up with someone ever easy? Unfortunately, no. And that’s sort of what turning down a great offer is like. But just like dating, it helps to be transparent. Explain that you received another offer that is a better opportunity for you at this time in your life. Mention that you took the time to assess each package as a whole and thank the interviewers for their time. And whatever you do, be completely honest. If you lie or massage the truth, you run the risk of it coming back to bite you at some point in your career.
There’s no such thing as a tie
There’s a popular phrase “the tie goes to the runner,” but baseball fans know that’s entirely untrue. Just like there are no ties in baseball, there are no ties with job offers. When you’re reviewing each of the criteria above, one offer is bound to stand out. If一and this is a big if一there is no clear winner, my advice is to go with your gut. Knowing yourself and your goals should be the foundation for your decision.