Multiple Job Offers? How to Make the Best Choice for Your Career

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Facing a hard decision | Source: iStock

A few years ago, having to juggle multiple offers of employment would have been an almost unheard of situation for most people. Now, with hiring up and more jobs available, some American job seekers are coming up against an enviable problem: Fielding two offers from two different employers. With more than one choice before you, how can you be sure which job is the right one for you?

First, if you have two offers in hand at the same time, realize your problem is really more of an opportunity, Kelly Mattice, a vice president at The Execu|Search Group, an executive recruiting and temp staffing agency, told The Cheat Sheet.

“Having multiple job offers is a good problem,” Mattice said. With two employers equally interested, you are “able to make a decision as opposed to being forced to make a decision,” she said.

Your first move should be to take a step back and reevaluate what you want out of your career, Mattice advised. After interviewing with multiple companies, your goals may have shifted slightly, and now is the time to consider which job would put you in a better position to meet both your short- and long-term career objectives.

Taking a close look at company culture is also critical. A high-paying job with long hours may be perfect for a young, single person, but might not be a good fit for someone who wants to make it home for dinner every night at 6.

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“You really do want to do your homework,” Mattice said. Checking out online reviews on sites like Glassdoor is a good place to start, though it’s also wise to take those anonymous online comments with a grain of salt. One-on-one conversations with former employees can also provide valuable insight into day-to-day life at a company. But one of the most useful steps to take is to spend a day or half day shadowing someone where you hope to work. Not all companies will be open to the idea, especially if they work with confidential information, but if they’re amenable, it can be an eye-opening experience.

One big mistake you shouldn’t make when weighing two job offers is to base your decision on salary alone, Mattice said. You also need to look at factors like benefits, flexibility, your own goals, and the company’s overall health.

“What good is making a high salary if the company is unstable and might be making layoffs in a year? You’re back to square one and looking for a job,” Mattice said.

While how much you’ll be paid may not be the only factor you should consider when choosing between jobs, you shouldn’t hesitate to leverage multiple offers. Asking for a higher salary, a better benefits package, or more flex-time is a smart move, provided you do it in a professional way (e.g., don’t lie about having another offer on the table when you really don’t).

“It’s OK to leverage,” Mattice said. “This is business. This is the way it works and employers are ready for it.” Even younger, less-experienced candidates should feel free to push for more of what they want from a prospective employer.

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“I think the younger job seeker tends to hold things a little too close to the vest,” Mattice said. “They’re not really that experienced in leveraging companies and doing it in a professional way.” Yet a successful negotiation can leave a positive impression on an employer, she noted. “It’s a very powerful tool to see how they would be in the real world … it shows drive.”

Once you’ve decided which offer to accept, you need to let the other employer know you’ll be rejecting them. Making a phone call is best, according to Mattice. You don’t have to go into great detail about why you made your choice (or even reveal where you’ll be working instead), but you should thank the interviewer or hiring manager for their time and express an interest in keeping in touch. Always try to end things on a positive note, since you may encounter the company again on a future job hunt, perhaps sooner than you expect.

“You do want to keep those bridges open,” Mattice said, who added that it’s not unheard for companies to revisit an offer, even if the candidate previously declined the job. “You might be back there in a year. I have a lot of people who chose wrong and in three months time we get a phone call saying, ‘Do you think they would reconsider me?’”

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