Receiving a job offer should be a cause for celebration, but it can also be stressful as candidates tie themselves in knots trying to decide whether to accept, or which offer to go for. We are used to guiding people through the decision-making process. Follow our suggestions to make the choice clearer:
What do you want?
It is really easy to get carried away by the interview process and forget what it was you were looking for in the first place. A sensible starting point in considering any offer is to write a list of all the things you hoped you might achieve. Include everything e.g. more interesting work, better promotion prospects, shorter commute, more money, flexible working. Then rank them in order of importance.
Know your offers
You can’t make a sensible decision unless you know what is on offer. If you have received formal offers in writing, you are likely to have a complete run down of the remuneration package including benefits.
But increasingly, companies will only issue formal paperwork if they have received an indication of acceptance so your recruiter will need to ask for the list of benefits. You must be able to compare one pension scheme with another, whether one firm has a bonus scheme, and another doesn’t. This can make a huge difference to the overall package. You may also need/want to know what the company’s view of flexible/agile working is.
Compare and contrast
A simple spreadsheet works very well. List all of your requirements in order of importance and then just fill in with ticks or brief comments. You’ll be able to see at a glance if there is a front-runner.
What if the front runner isn’t the company you felt that immediate connection with? Don’t ignore this! We spend many hours working and it’s an average 4 years before each person changes jobs, so it’s sensible to try and get this right.
Think back to each interview. Were you made to feel comfortable? Did you think you’d work well with the future teammates that you met during the process? If you didn’t meet them, ask to. Most employers will be very happy to arrange an informal meeting with potential colleagues after you’ve received an offer; if they refuse without good reason, perhaps it isn’t the place for you.
If the company you feel provides the best ‘fit’ doesn’t come out top on salary, do they have a better bonus scheme or pension or pay overtime for example? Can you save money on a shorter commute, or by working from home? Does it look like the scope for a promotion is better in the short to mid- term here than elsewhere?
If you have taken all these things into consideration and the offer still falls short, ask your recruiter to negotiate on your behalf.
Your existing employer will often complicate things by making a counteroffer for you to stay. This could involve a pay rise, the promise of a promotion, or exposure to different work.
This can throw a spanner in the works and candidates find it very hard to disengage from the emotional pull. It is flattering to be asked to stay, and often the easier option if our subconscious is thinking “better the devil you know”.
Do bear in mind that you wouldn’t be getting a counteroffer if you weren’t good at your job, and the reasons you were considering moving are unlikely to go away. You should certainly never stay because of increased salary; will you have to resign each time you fall below market rate in the future?
Getting you to stay means that your employer won’t have a staffing gap while they try and find and then train a good replacement and won’t have the additional costs of agency fees and/or advertising costs. Make sure that any counteroffer genuinely addresses your needs fully and is achievable. It’s frustrating to turn down a great offer elsewhere, find that your current firm doesn’t deliver on its promises and have to start the process from scratch.
Take soundings from people you trust, ideally who have some knowledge of your market.
A good recruiter will be focusing on providing you with sound career advice, even if that means advising you to stay with your current employer.
Leap of faith
If none of the offers deliver what you are looking for, keep looking. Again, a good recruiter will advise on what it is possible to achieve and to help with planning your longer term career strategy.
At some point, you will have to take a leap of faith and trust your judgement but weighing up the options carefully and doing your due diligence will make the decision easier.
Cathy Buckley is one of the directors of Buckley Consulting Limited. She has a background in tax, having worked for HMRC, industry and a leading firm of accountants. She has specialised in tax recruitment for over 25 years and regularly writes articles to help both employer and employee with recruitment and career development issues. For confidential career advice get in touch with Cathy on 020 3303 0020 or email email@example.com