I was recently working with a client who, after a long, scary dry spell with no job offers at all (not even possibilities), found himself in the enviable position of having TWO good offers at the same time. But how should he decide which job would be the best for him? Each job had pluses and minuses. Each one offered interesting challenges.
It’s pretty easy if money is your one and only criteria for whether to accept a job — you just let the highest bidder win you. But for most of us, the right job is a mix of things that are not always easy to quantify or weigh against each other. To help you with your decision, here are some things to consider …
Weighing the pros and cons of each job offer
How do you measure the long-term affect on your career of any one particular job? What about things like room for growth or opportunities to take on new challenges beyond the ones being directly presented by this particular job? How about company policies or management style or the people you’re working with that can all affect how well you succeed?
Then there are the very real but easy-to-overlook things like what it will be like working there on a daily basis. Commute time. Work environment, including the way the office / cubicle / desk will feel. Is there opportunity to take lunch or get out of the office once in a while to clear your head? Is your boss a micro-manager? Are your colleagues people you want to spend 40+ hours a week with?
You need to make a list of the kinds of things that you’d like to have and those things that would drive you crazy after some time – or at least start to eat at you. Also, is there something about the job raising concerns that you can’t quite put into words? Similarly, is there something pulling you more to one than the other? Add that to your list too. Now compare each job to your list.
The “x factor” in making your job choice
After lots of consideration, my client was ready to present his thoughts and feelings to me about each job. On paper, one job seemed to be winning over the other. It had fewer potential downsides, offered a more-developed organizational structure with built-in support, and a more pleasant work environment including actual lunch hours.
But here’s the “x factor”: as we talked about them both, I felt my client drawn more to the one that did not look best on paper. It was risky, but the upside was huge and he got to work with someone he greatly admires – despite also knowing he was an incredibly demanding boss. But since his long-term goals were about becoming an entrepreneur like the boss in question and since he is a bit of a risk taker himself, he went to the “not as good on paper” job, negotiated a salary with the risk built in, took a deep breath, and said YES.
While the job is indeed incredibly demanding and his days have little time anyway for things like lunches out of the office, he is loving it. The challenge. The opportunities. The things he’s learning. Great colleagues with similar drive. He’s very happy he made this choice over the one that seemed more pleasant in some ways, but would have soon felt too small for him.
In the end it’s about truly knowing yourself
Of course, someone else might have been happier with the opposite choice. In fact, a less entrepreneurial person with different long-term goals could be very happy in the job my client turned down – and hate the one he took.
So while it’s natural (and recommended) to get caught up in evaluating the jobs individually and all they might offer, the best career decisions begin by first looking inside and figuring out what you truly want – and the kinds of things that can really, deep-inside make or break a job for you!