Decision making - what to do when you have more than one job opportunity?

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When applying for jobs, you might find yourself in the situation where you have two or more different opportunities offered to you at the same time.  This might be viewed as a ‘good’ problem to have, but it does mean that you will have to make a potentially life-changing decision and that can often be a very difficult thing to do.  It can be only too easy to fall into the trap of making a choice based on a few simple factors, such as the salary being slightly higher in one opportunity. This can lead to issues further down the line if you haven’t carefully considered all the factors.  So, what is the best way to approach this situation?

  1. Find out everything there is to know Don’t be afraid to call the recruiting manager and/or HR and ask them for their full terms and conditions to help you make your choice. A benefits package is much more than just salary – consider pension arrangements, annual leave, sick pay and any other benefits that are offered.  Some companies will now have some more unusual and tempting packages to offer you – Fridays off in summer, dress down days, trips and outings etc.  However, it can be easy to get swept away by the perks of the job – you need to keep a hard head on and think about other factors such as commute times, working hours and where the growth opportunities will be.   Ultimately, if you’re not happy in your work it won’t matter if they have a pool table in the office or a free lunch once a month.

  2. Consider the culture as well as the role The people we work alongside are a key factor in our enjoyment of our roles. If you got the chance to meet your future colleagues, did they seem like the sort of people you would enjoy working with?  What was the culture like in the office and was it a good match for your own working style?  You might be spending more time with these people than your family or closest friends so it’s important that you will feel comfortable in your new environment.

  3. Create a decision-making table. Once you know all the facts, lay them out in a grid so you can see them side by side and score each one (for example from minus 5 to plus 5). It might be an easy choice at this stage but, if not, consider adding ‘weighting’ to each of the factors.  Which are the most important points for you – is a higher salary more important to you than an extra 20 minutes journey?  If you decide that, for example, salary and annual leave are the most important factors, add a ‘weighting’ of (for example) x2 to these areas and see if that affects your overall score for each element.  If one option scores very poorly for a factor you have identified as particularly important, you might find that you have to rule that opportunity out altogether. 

  4. Negotiate If the decision making table shows the scores favour one job, but your heart still says to take the other you might want to reconsider your weightings more carefully. But, you could also consider negotiating with your preferred employer.  You may find they have some room for manoeuvre.  Be honest and open, explain the situation you are in and what a difficult choice you are facing and don’t ask for too much – keep requests reasonable and remember that all successful negotiations should result in each party thinking they have a great deal!

  5. Decision time Once you have made your final decision, make sure you let the other company know carefully when you turn down their offer. Be polite and graceful, thank them for the offer and explain it was a difficult choice to make.  You never know if you might be going back to them one day!

  6. Remember… You mustn’t take too long over this process. Explain you have two offers to consider and you’ll let them know by a certain date, no more than a few days away.  Not deciding quickly might even result in one or even both offers being withdrawn.

Finally, congratulations!  Having a few different job opportunities shows you are performing very well at interview.  And remember, this is a good problem to have!

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