Deciding which job offer to accept…
It’s a good problem to have, but it’s not easy to compare two job offers and know which to take.
This is a BIG decision that you need to get right.
To help, I’m going to give you a step-by-step method for comparing two (or more) job offers so you can be sure you’re making the right choice.
Let’s get started…
If you have any questions about salary, health insurance, other benefits, working hours, expectations, or even company plans/direction, you should ask the hiring manager before making a decision on the job offer.
It’s not a bad sign to ask questions about a job offer; it shows you’re interested and making a careful, thoughtful decision.
So don’t be afraid to clarify a point or two before choosing your next company to work for.
For this reason, you should never accept a job offer immediately.
Always review all the details in the offer and ensure you understand the offer and have complete information.
Now, we’re ready to get into the nitty-gritty of comparing these two offers. Coming up, I’ll show you the points to consider.
The next step in how to compare two job offers is to consider the pay. We all go to work for money, even if that’s not the only reason you enjoy your career.
With each job offer, look at the base salary and bonuses… but also stock options, tuition reimbursement, and other financial incentives.
These all add up and can help you earn and save more money in the job.
It’s possible that both job offers are relatively low and should be negotiated to get what’s fair.
You won’t know this if you simply compare the two offers against each other without doing any salary research online.
Then, after researching salaries, also consider benefits such as:
A job may look great on paper. It may be the better of the two jobs in terms of salary and more.
But if it doesn’t fit your career goals long-term, then you’ll be potentially wasting your time in that position.
For example, if you’ve worked in customer service for years and want to find a role that doesn’t require you to interact with customers, it won’t do you much good to accept another customer-facing position.
…Even if it’s a 30% boost in pay and has all sorts of other great benefits.
So along with the factors you can evaluate on paper and compare between two job offers, also take time to think about whether a job is taking you in the direction you want to go in your professional life.
As you compare two job offers, it makes sense to think about what’s most important to you in your life beyond your job search.
Maybe you’re in the early stage of your career and want to prioritize learning opportunities and growth.
Maybe you’re in your late 50s and want to prioritize higher salary/compensation so that you can move closer to retirement.
Or, maybe you’re starting a family and want a better work-life balance.
You’ll be able to keep a clearer head and make a better decision when comparing two job offers if you take the time to write out your priorities in order.
Next, consider what will likely happen to your career after your first year or two in the company.
I recommend asking the employer questions in the interview such as:
Some companies have a culture of promoting employees from within whenever possible, but others don’t. Find the former type of company and you’ll be in a much better position to advance your career.
You’ll be able to negotiate raises, earn promotions, or even switch between groups if it suits your career interests, all without having to change companies.
Considering long-term opportunities is one of the best career tips I can give you and is critical when you choose between two offers.
This tip led to my initial success as a recruiter. I joined a company in an entry-level role but was promoted quickly to Senior Recruiter, then Project Manager.
This occurred because the employer I joined always promoted people from within the company when possible, and the CEO felt doing so was important.
I recommend you search for a company’s employees on LinkedIn to get a sense of how long they’ve been with the company. Also note if employees have held multiple roles and earned promotions with the business. Those are fantastic signs if you see them.
There’s a saying in the professional world that people don’t leave bad companies, they leave bad bosses.
This is often true.
So remember, you’re not just choosing between two jobs here, but two managers…
…Managers you’ll likely work with each and every day, who will do your performance reviews, and who will even teach you the job you’ll be performing.
So think about how you were treated by each of the hiring managers in the interview process and what it would be like to work for them.
A bad boss can make your life miserable and your work frustrating.
The quality of your future manager is one of the most important factors to look at when comparing job offers.
Don’t take a job offer if you can’t stand the boss.
Along with trying to find a great boss, you should also consider the overall team and company culture before taking a new job.
If you have an appealing job offer but don’t think you’ll enjoy the team and/or buy into the company culture, you may end up miserable in the position.
Whereas a job offer that pays you a bit less but gets you onto a team that you have a great connection and mutual interests with could end up being a better career move.
For the average worker, I don’t think company culture is as important as your connection with your potential new boss or your salary and job responsibilities in the role, but it’s still a factor to consider when deciding between two jobs.
And company culture can serve as a great tie-breaker if you’ve got two offers that each have some pros and cons, and you don’t know which job offer to take.
The next tip you can use to compare two job offers is to research the company’s history and stability.
Search Google to see if the company has had any layoffs in the past few years. You can type “[Company Name] Layoffs” into your search.
I suggest searching Google News in particular to determine this. See the image below for how to search and for an example search query:
If a company is publicly traded on the stock market, you can also see recent financial reports and find articles about its financial health.
Even without a background in finance, you may find one or two useful articles/headlines that help in determining whether a company is profitable and growing, or struggling.
You can also look at how much they’re hiring right now…
If you see a company hiring across many teams and for many different positions, it’s a positive sign.
It likely means that they’re growing and doing well in their market, and therefore less likely to eliminate your position or announce layoffs in the future.
Next, before accepting a job offer, you can read reviews written by former employees to see what people liked and disliked about an employer.
Glassdoor.com is a good website for finding employee reviews.
If you’re stuck deciding between two jobs and one has a much more positive set of employee reviews, that may be a sign that one employer is better.
Don’t read one bad employee review and freak out, though. Every employer has a disgruntled ex-employee or two.
Instead, look for a general trend and the percentage of reviews that are good versus bad, especially among employee reviews left in the past two to three years.
For example, if you’re looking at two jobs and see that one has 80% positive reviews and the other 50%, that’s a good indication of which employer is better (assuming both have many reviews and not just a few).
Remember, though, the individual boss you work for matters just as much as the company, so always consider each individual hiring manager when comparing offers for two jobs.
If the company isn’t going to let you work from home, it’s worth doing a comparison between your job offers to determine how long your commute would take for each.
For example, if you’re going to be spending three hours per day commuting, that’s going to impact your personal life.
For this reason, you’d require more money for that offer to make sense (or maybe you decide that no amount of money is worth the loss of time in your situation, which is also fine).
In either case, weigh the amount of time you’ll be commuting, since that’s time you can’t spend with family or doing anything else.
This tip for how to decide between two job offers is a bit less scientific, but it’s one I’ve found useful in my career.
If I could go back, I’d follow this tip more often, and it would have helped me avoid jobs that I disliked.
(Mainly, jobs that didn’t take me in the direction I wanted to go in my life and career. I accepted a few job offers where the salary was great but then quickly realized that I was stuck doing work for the next year that I didn’t care about. Not fun.)
It’s great to evaluate all of the measurable, straightforward tips and areas above…
And it’s nice to list out the pros and cons of each employer and position.
But at the end of the day, if your gut is telling you that a certain career move is a bad idea, it could be the truth.
Don’t confuse your gut instinct with some hesitancy about stepping into the unknown, though. It’s normal to fear the unknown, and being cautious is NOT a sign you should stay with your current employer and never leave.
I’m just suggesting that as you decide between two job offers, if your gut is telling you strongly that one is the right decision over the other, it may be wise to listen.
This gut feeling could be due to company culture, the hiring manager you’d be working for, or simply the work you’d be doing in this position. Those are all crucial factors that will impact your happiness and mental health each day on the job.
Once you’ve chosen one company to work for, tell them that you’re excited to accept the position, sign the job offer, and return it to them.
After they’ve confirmed that they have everything they need and have given you a start date for the position, you can then tell the other company or companies that you’re not going to be able to accept their offer.
You should not accept two job offers. However, it’s acceptable to negotiate multiple job offers with different employers and then decide which one offer to accept. Once you’ve accepted and finalized one offer, you should inform the other employer(s) that you won’t be accepting their offer, though.
Accepting a job offer from multiple employers is unnecessary and will surely result in you burning bridges with the hiring managers and likely harming your reputation in the industry.
You never know when a hiring manager or other team member will change employers, so this could hurt your ability to get hired by multiple employers in the future, not just the employers you’re currently talking to.
Instead of accepting two job offers, use the fact that you’ve got two job offers as leverage to negotiate. I’ll explain how to negotiate compensation in this scenario coming up next…
Let’s say you’ve got two job offers, and one company and position excites you more, but the compensation just isn’t where you need it to be.
It’s okay to discuss money with the employer in this case, and you aren’t going to sound greedy at all!
You can simply say something like:
I appreciate this offer and the role sounds fantastic. Your company has been my first choice throughout my job hunt. However, I did receive another offer for a similar role at the same level, and the compensation was $X higher. Is there any flexibility in your budget to increase the base salary to $Y? If so, I’m comfortable accepting your offer on the spot, since the position itself is more attractive to me.
You can reword that. You can leave pieces out that you don’t feel are advantageous to say. (For example, you don’t HAVE to say you’d accept on the spot. I normally recommend you do not accept an offer immediately).
However, it’s appropriate occasionally as a negotiation tactic.
It’s a way of showing that everything else about the position and offer is great and assuring the employer that this is your final request, and if they meet it, you’ll have no issue accepting the job.
They may not be able to match the other employer’s pay completely, but you’ll find out the best they can do.
It’s worth taking the time to explore whether they can increase the salary to some degree.
You could also ask an open-ended question when you request a boost to the salary in a job offer.
Rather than saying, “Is there any flexibility in your budget to increase the base salary to $Y?” you could say, “Do you have any flexibility in the base salary here?”
You now have a process for how to compare two job offers by looking at salary, benefits, vacation time, and much more.
You know that the boss you work for can be just as important as the company.
You know the importance of trusting your gut and going in the right direction for your long-term career, even if a job pays slightly less salary than another.
Plus, if a job offer has everything you’re looking for but is lacking in salary, you can negotiate, as discussed in the previous section.
Choosing between two jobs is an important decision, but it doesn’t have to be a guessing game if you follow the steps above.
Biron Clark is a former Executive Recruiter who has worked with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
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