Professional Confessional

A blog providing tips and resources for life after college

2014 February

You Got the Jobs! How To Decide Between the Offers

You built a stellar resume, nailed the interview, and got the job offer. Congrats!

And then you did it again. Now what? If you have multiple job offers on the table, deciding which is the right one for you can be the most overwhelming part of the job search process. Here’s a step-by-step plan to help you make a fully informed decision.

1. Dig for Insider Info

First, gather as much information as you can about the position and company—beyond the often sugar-coated answers you hear during the interview process. Google is a great place to start finding news, financial information, and expectations for the company’s future outlook.

But more importantly, ask people in your personal and professional networks what they know about the organization or the people for whom you will be working. Especially ask questions you wouldn’t otherwise necessarily get answers to: What’s the turnover like? Have there been recent layoffs? Why did your predecessor leave the job?

While the discovery process can be tedious, it may give you valuable insight and uncover some important red flags.

2. Consider the Big Picture

It’s easy to be wooed by a high salary or exciting responsibilities, but it’s crucial to look at the complete picture of any job. “The biggest mistake people make is taking a job just for the title or money without considering the opportunity costs, company culture, work-life balance, or opportunities to grow,” says Amy Adams, Director of the Seaver College Career Center at Pepperdine University. “I encourage job seekers to really think about which opportunity best matches their lifestyle and overall goals.” Some important factors to consider include:

Finances:

Your financial considerations should be much more than just a salary-to-salary comparison. Evaluate the entire compensation package: bonuses, profit sharing, health benefits, and 401(k) matching plans can make big differences in what you really earn. For example, if one company offers to make substantial contributions to your 401(k), this can be worth more money in the long run than a higher base salary, since the funds are tax-deferred and invested.

Investigate tuition reimbursement programs, which could make a huge financial difference if you’re considering going back to school. Also consider fringe costs, like commuting.

“You might consider requesting the offers in writing so that you can directly compare your options and use them to negotiate for a better deal,” suggests Adams.

Time:

Determine what will your typical schedule look like at each job and whether it will work for you. Beyond your daily in-office hours, also consider commuting time, expected overtime, and travel. What are the vacation and sick leave policies? If you are planning to have a family—even if it’s not for a few years—also look into the maternity and paternity leave policy.

People:

Remember: you’ll be spending more time with your co-workers than with most of your friends and family members. So, “think about how well you connected with each supervisor or work group,” recommends Adams.

Another good cue is the vibe you get from the HR department: “One job had a recruiter who seemed eager to make me choose either way so they could pass the offer to the next in line,” recounts Jessica Benjamin, who recently had to decide between two alluring offers. “The other had upper-level management check-in with me regularly and eventually told me they wanted to give me an offer I couldn’t refuse. That blew me away.”

Culture:

Is the culture a good match for you? There’s no “right” answer here, but it’s crucial to explore the major differences between companies. For example, Google and SAS provide on-site services, workout facilities, free meals—even pets—so that its employees never have to leave the office, whereas employees who work more than 60 hours per week at Boston Consulting Group are placed in a “red zone” and advised by a “career mentor.” Do you want a culture where people go to happy hour after work, or where employees are strictly 9-to-5ers? If you’re expecting to put in overtime, do you want a place where people stick around the office into the evening, or take their laptops home at 5?

Seeing the physical environment you’ll be working can be a key indicator of company culture: Microsoft’s sprawling university-like campus in Seattle has a much different feel than Deloitte’s downtown New York headquarters. Walk around the building, inside and out, and ask to see your office. Are people near you talking, smiling, collaborating? Is the building near lunchtime eateries? Will you feel safe walking to your car at night?

Professional Development:

This job will likely not be your last, so weigh it for its value as a stepping stone to your next job. What professional development and continuing education opportunities are there within and outside of the company? Larger organizations often offer more structure and professional development opportunities, but a small or start-up firm might allow you more flexibility and to take on more responsibility quickly.

“Be sure to consider where you want to be in five to 10 years. If one job will lead you in that direction and another won’t, you’ll want to factor that into your decision,” notes Adams. “There may be value in taking a job at a lower level with a prestigious company to get your foot in the door, particularly industries like entertainment, where you have to gain specific experience in the field before you can advance.”

3. Take Time to Analyze

Sound like a lot to process? Well, it is. Often, putting the information on paper can help you look at the big picture in an organized, less overwhelming way.

Make a spreadsheet listing the 10 to 15 factors that you value most. Rate each factor on how important it is to you on a scale of 1 to 5. Now, rate how each job ranks in every category, being as comprehensive and honest with yourself as possible. Then, multiply the importance factor by the rating to get a weighted rating.

For example:

Category Importance Job A Rating Weighted Rating Job B Rating Weighted Rating
Commute Time 3 1 3 5 15
Relationship with Boss 5 4 20 1 5
Total 23 20

In this example, Job A would rank as the overall best fit.

4. Listen to Your Gut

Still stuck? My favorite piece of decision-making advice comes from my mom, and I use it in almost every tough decision. Pick one outcome or the other—doesn’t matter which—and mentally commit to that decision. Imagine—in as much detail as possible—calling the company you’ve chosen and accepting the offer. Walk yourself through telling your friends and family about your decision and going to the office for your first day of work.

Then, evaluate how you feel. Are you excited? Nauseated? Indifferent? Think about this “gut” feeling and what it’s telling you. “Don’t disregard your intuition,” says Adams. “Pay attention to any signals or red flags that have arisen during the application and interview process, and don’t underestimate even small off-putting encounters.”

Ultimately, Benjamin’s decision came down to where she thought she would fit best and be most valued. “While I considered location, freedom to travel, benefits, and office culture, it all boiled down to knowing where I’d be successful—and knowing I’d be most successful where people believed in me.”

 

Originally posted on www.forbes.com, You Got the Jobs! How to Decide Between Offers, 06/06/11

 

Following Up after the Interview

Set yourself apart from other candidates by following up with the recruiter or hiring manager. Hopefully, you sent a handwritten thank you note expressing your appreciation for the interview and interest in the position. You may follow up the thank you note with an email to inquire about the decision-making process if not stated after the interview. You don’t want to be pesky and show desperation. However, don’t let two weeks or more go by without contacting the recruiter. Surprisingly other candidates may never follow up after an interview. Thus, losing a chance to reconnect with the employer and keep their names top-of-mind. You will make an impression by showing your interest in and persistence with working for the company. “Timely follow-up is a good show of faith. It’s a decidedly effective way to reiterate your interest in a firm,” affirms a Deloitte recruiter.

Also, you are maintaining a connection to the company. If you don’t receive an offer, build a bridge for another opportunity. It is appropriate to thank them for the opportunity and tell them to keep you in mind for future opportunities. By planting the seed, you may receive a call requesting you to apply for another position. “Moreover, follow up is a way to maintain your network…So, cultivate that relationship!!” says a BlueCross BlueShield recruiter. Stay connected. If you find an interesting article related to their industry, share it with him/her. It shows you have interest in news and trends related to the company and industry. Below is a sample email:

Subject line: Product Manager Position

Hi (fill in with Mr./Ms. name of addressee),

We spoke on (fill in date of interview) about the product manager position at XYZ Industries. In our conversation, you highlighted some emerging trends in food packaging. I noticed this attached article about the same topic and thought of you. I hope you find the information useful!

I am excited about the career opportunity that XYZ Industries offers. I look forward to receiving your decision in regard to the product manager position.

Warm regards,

(Fill in your first and last name)

Contact information or email signature

The sample is a perfect example reminding the recruiter who you are, the connection (interview for the product manager position), and the conversation (emerging trends in food packaging). Also, you are sharing an article related to the topic (interest in the industry), and expressing continued interest in the position.

So, remember: 1) Follow up on decision-making process; 2) Stay top-of-mind – share an interesting article/video related to the interview’s conversation topic or industry news/trends; 3) No offer received – thank them for the opportunity and express interest in future opportunities at the company; and 4) Continue to maintain the connection – share more than you receive.

 

Connections are KEY for Getting Inside the Door

The career fair is not the only way to explore companies and connect with employers. Job shadowing and career treks allow students to take an inside peek by visiting companies, meeting professionals, and experiencing the culture and daily operations. Over winter break, 60 students went to New York City for a career trek in the following industries: media/communications, public relations and advertising, fashion and retail, and fine arts administration. The students learned that the “Big Apple” is not so big once you make connections with professionals and friendly Wake Forest alums in the city. Read Erica Bullock’s student perspective on the experience. Learn some tips on how to navigate a trek experience.

Erica BullockErica Bullock – Student Guest Contributor

2014 M.A. Candidate, Communication

Upon first learning of my acceptance to participate in Wake Forest’s NYC Career Trek Program through the Office of Career and Personal Development, I was very excited. Here I was, a graduating Communication M.A. candidate, getting the chance to meet with so many people in my field of interest (Media/Communication), including other students. With the Career Trek orientation, networking tips, resume reviews, and detailed itinerary, the Office of Career and Personal Development prepared us extremely well going into the experience, and I felt particularly ready and equipped.

Once I flew into New York, settled into my hotel room, and met all the other students, I instantly felt relaxed and motivated. Everything was well-organized, the staff was very coordinated, and the companies we met as a group were phenomenal (Viacom, Turner Broadcasting, Hearst, the Mets, Southern Living, and FWRV). The representatives from these companies (mostly former Wake alumni or affiliates) were extremely friendly, helpful, and their advice and knowledge about the industry proved to be extremely useful. In addition to visiting different companies throughout New York City, a reception was held for us to meet more Wake alumni from the fields of fashion, public relations, and advertising. Overall, I found that our trip really gave students who weren’t from the New York metro area a chance to experience a taste of the city.

Since I was from the New York metro area, following up with these companies over the winter break became an important next step. I made sure everyone who spoke with us during our visit in December received a thank you email, as well as a hand-written thank you letter, noting that their time was appreciated. For the companies that I had an interest in, I requested informational interviews, and as a result of meeting with them a second time, I was able solidify some contacts and learn more about my field of interest. Knowing that these people were here to help us made networking feel natural and comfortable (which, for a shy person like me, was huge!), and I came away from my Career Trek experience tremendously grateful and confident about getting back into the working world. One thing is certain: Wake truly looks out for Wake. Go Deacs!

This is only a snippet of what one student experienced on the trek.  Read what other student trekkers experienced during their adventure in NYC.

Watch the video for an exciting look inside the NYC career trek experience.