Deciding Between Job Offers

Everyone enjoys being wanted – but hates having to choose. Here are some tips and considerations to bear in mind when you’re trying to decide between competing job offers.

So congratulations are in order. You’ve emerged from the heap of job applications, survived your latest round of interviews, and smiled and shook hands till it hurt your face and fingers. And now, finally, you’re seeing the fruits of your hard labour – the job offers have begun to roll in. It’s practically raining opportunities!

Ah, but there’s an obvious catch – you can only choose one. Suddenly, having options can feel more like a burden than a blessing.

On the one hand, being sought after by more than one employer can be a serious boost to your ego. It’s flattering, after all, to know that you’re a hot commodity, particularly in a tight market where many people are out of work and are struggling to find good “rebound” jobs to get them back on their feet.

But picking one job offer over another is rarely an easy decision to make. Many variables will colour your deliberations – from logistical and material factors, such as the hours, location, and commute, or salary and title, to considerations of the “cultural” variety, like your fit and compatibility with the team and organization.

Over all above of these competing criteria, however, you should be looking to take the job that will advance you the furthest in your career. It’s important to capitalize on opportunities that move you forward in your professional growth and development.

But how do you determine which of the positions you’re being offered will best help you climb the ladder? How do you make the smartest, most strategic choice about which job to accept? For those candidates in the enviable position of having to choose between job offers, here are some questions you can ask yourself.

“Where do I want to be two jobs from now?”
Every candidate, before they begin their search, should think long and hard about the type of position they want, not for their next job, but the one after that – two promotions from now, as it were. This could be your dream job, or a position that will clear the path to your dream job. Either way, unless you’re already at a very senior level in your career, it’s wise to approach each new job as a potential stepping-stone – one that could eventually lead to a bigger, more exciting and challenging position.

So when you have two offers on the table, carefully consider which job is more likely to pave the way to that superior position down the line. In other words, which job will bridge the gap standing between you and the “destination” job you really want? Which will expose you to a wider array of industry-relevant skills, or help you develop a niche within your field?

Ultimately, you should think about which job will make you more marketable as a candidate, so that eventually, you’ll be offered the kind of opportunity you won’t even need to think twice about accepting.

So when you have two offers on the table, carefully consider which job is more likely to pave the way to that superior position down the line.

“Who will I be reporting to?”
Anyone who’s ever been employed knows that the relationship you have you’re your direct manager can make or break the experience. If the relationship between you and your supervisor is strained, or if you chafe under their particular management style, you are far less likely to produce good work and establish yourself as an important player in the company. And that can definitely hurt your career progress.

As such, you’ll want to look carefully at how the boss of each company operates as a manager. Think about whether their style of management and leadership gels with your own personality, professional style, and individual needs.

“How healthy is the company?”
Before committing yourself to either of the companies that have offered you a place, you should consider how stable each one is and how well they’re doing. After all, you don’t want to land your dream job at a company that’s doomed to file for bankruptcy three months from now.

Do your research into the viability of a potential employer’s business before accepting anything. If the company is publicly traded, you can easily inquire into its financial status. If it’s private, look for some telltale signs of growth or decline. For example, a high level of staff retention suggests a strong and stable business, while heavy turnover points to a shakier foundation.

How much revenue a company brings in, or whether it’s undergone restructuring recently, are also pretty good measures of stability. If you’ve been offered one job at an organization that seems to be on unsteady ground and another that has obvious staying power, you’d probably be wise to take the latter – unless, of course, you want to be hitting the job boards again soon.

“What are the team dynamics?”
Culture matters. A positive corporate culture is linked to high morale and productivity; by contrast, a poor or negative culture is often at the heart of a flagging workforce. That’s why it’s important that you assess each company’s group dynamics before you make a decision.

While it’s not impossible to figure out the politics and culture of an organization from the outside looking in, you probably won’t be able to know what it’s like to work at a company until you’ve actually worked there. That said, you can at least get a rough sense of how team-oriented a company is from the interview. Pay attention to how the hiring manager speaks and comports themselves during your meeting, as well as the sorts of questions they ask. If they seem to emphasize that getting along with others is key to the position, then you can safely infer that teamwork is an important value for the firm.

You can also get a general idea of a company’s group dynamics simply by conducting some low-level reconnaissance when you visit the office. Is it a loud or quiet workplace? Is the atmosphere relaxed or tense? Are people freely chatting with one another, or is everyone lost in their own little worlds?

Understanding the team and organizational dynamics of a company is important not only for determining whether you’ll be able to click with your prospective co-workers, but also for evaluating whether there’s sufficient space for you to play a leading role there – for you to have your voice heard. You’ll need that kind of a stage in order to have a chance to progress.

After all, you don’t want to land your dream job at a company that’s doomed to file for bankruptcy three months from now.

“What’s the dirt?”
When you’re trying to get a feeling for how a company’s team functions and what the managers are like, don’t shy away from talking to someone who used to work there.  If you don’t know anyone personally, search LinkedIn for any current or former employees in your network who might be willing to give you the goods. For third-party reviews of what it’s actually like to work at a specific company, mostly from ex-employees, check out Glassdoor and similar crowdsourcing sites.

If you feel strange or sneaky about poking around, think about it this way: your potential employers have done extensive reference checks on you, so it’s only appropriate for you to unearth some background information on each of them. Turnabout, on this score, is fair play.

“What are the offers?”
Of course, the actual figures on the table will greatly impact your decision between the offers. And that’s perfectly fair and reasonable. How much a firm is willing to commit and invest in you speaks volumes how much you’ll be valued or what kinds of responsibilities you’ll enjoy.

Just don’t fall into the trap of focusing exclusively on the dollars and cents. Candidates often set a lot store by salary, vacation days, and the like, but to determine whether a particular company is right for you, it’s important that you consider the whole package – the cultures as much as the cash, the teams as much as the titles. The competency and style of the manager, the strength and cohesiveness of the team, the financial success and sustainability of the business – all of these considerations should be weighed on the scales, along with the compensation being offered, before you take your decision.

Let us know what you think! At Clarity Recruitment, we’re always interested in hearing from accounting and finance professionals like yourselves, who are ready for new, exciting opportunities that can take their careers to the next level. And be sure to follow us on Twitter (@clarityrecruits) and connect with us on Facebook for more great tips and advice!