Here’s the kind of dilemma every job seeker would love to have: You’ve combed Monster for the perfect jobs, and got not one but two great job offers. What do you do now?
Choosing between two jobs isn’t a simple process, and it’s tempting to be swayed by your emotions (“This company is a major sponsor of the most buzzed-about events in the country!”) and the salaries being tossed around (“The pay is better at X, so why should I even consider Y?”), but it’s worth slowing down to make sure your choice is going to make you happy for the long haul.
Read on to learn how to decide between two jobs, including red flags to look for and factors to weigh, before you accept the offer.
Make sure you have complete information about each offer
Before you start comparing the details of job offers, gather everything you need to paint a complete picture. You’ll need to know much more than a salary number to fairly weigh both offers.
For example, you should definitely ask both hiring managers for detailed information on benefits packages, says Monster career expert Vicki Salemi. “As a recruiter, I was not asked by many candidates about benefits—and I wished they had inquired further,” she says.
Francesca Gino, author of Sidetracked and a professor at Harvard Business School, agrees that it's important to have a comprehensive understanding of what’s on the table. “Preparation is key for any negotiation, and there is often more information about companies and roles than what one would expect,” she says.
Make a side-by-side comparison
Next it’s time to make a laundry list of what each job brings, both good and bad. “You need to compare apples to apples—evaluate everything,” Salemi says. “I'm a big fan of writing things down, so either do it old school in a notebook or in Excel.”
For each job, she says, write down what you know about each of the following factors as applicable:
●Commuting time (and whether the commute is easy or challenging)
●How much rapport you have with your prospective boss
●Out-of-pocket costs for health insurance
●Number of personal days
●Whether this job will help you ascend in your career
Figure out what really matters
What benefits are worth getting excited over? Well, that depends—on you.
“Identify the dimensions of the offer that are important and relevant to your decision,” says Gino.
For example, one company might have excellent maternity and paternity leave policies, as well as onsite childcare, but that might not be relevant to you at all. Free quarterly car detailing is great, but it doesn’t matter much if you take the bus to work. On the other hand, you might really appreciate a company’s generous bonus policy or having summer Fridays off.
Create a scoring sheet to quantify the elements of each job offer. “Doing so will allow you to really understand the trade-offs you are making going from one offer to another,” Gino says.
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Consider where you could negotiate
Imagine your heart is set on the first offer because you like that company the most, Gino says. “Let’s also imagine that the first offer is worse than the second one,” she says. “What would need to change in that first offer for you to go ahead and sign? That’s an important question to ask.” Seeing the positive elements of the competing offer can give you ideas for your negotiation—like asking for more personal days or a more flexible schedule.
Listen to your gut
“Weigh any red flags that emerged during the interview,” says Salemi. Did you get a sign that it’s a potentially toxic work environment? “Was the boss checking emails while you were speaking? Or did the interview last until 7 p.m. and was the office was still full of people working?”
Don’t forget to pay attention to how comfortable you felt talking to the people who were interviewing you. “Candidates often overlook one of the most important and intangible factors—their boss,” Salemi adds. “How well did you get along with that prospective manager? Did you like him or her?” Don’t push aside important factors like your potential relationships with managers and co-workers in favor of a big salary.
Turn down the losing offer with grace
Once you’ve made your decision, congrats! But before you pop the champagne, take the time to politely turn down the other job offer.
“Thank the employer for their interest, and keep the door open for future conversations,” Salemi says. “You never know when you'll be on the job search again and want to explore new opportunities there.”