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.
|Category||Importance||Job A Rating||Weighted Rating||Job B Rating||Weighted Rating|
|Relationship with Boss||5||4||20||1||5|
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