Dear Coach Joan,
I had an incredibly frustrating six month job search. I followed my wife to Sonoma County for her job opportunity but have had trouble securing a job here myself. Sometimes I’d be asked back for five interviews only to lose out to another candidate. Then I’d make it through two rounds and be rejected. But after six months of consistently putting myself out there — using my network, going to professional meetings, having recruiters seek opportunities for me, nothing was working.
Then POP. All of a sudden, just after the six month mark, I am now juggling three job offers and I don’t yet know which one to take. I clearly have a preference but the offer from the company I am most attracted to is not as good as the one that would involve a lot longer of a commute.
How can I best manage this situation?
Congratulations for persevering beyond the three to six month mark! In my experience with hundreds of job seekers, most people hit a frustration wall between three and six months. Yet, that is often how long it takes for professionals to get to a job offer.
But you have made it through that period of frustration and have made it to opportunity– three of them. Congratulations!
But how to choose?
Though no one has a crystal ball, there are certain norms in juggling job offers:
- Most organizations expect to have at least one round of negotiations. That means they are not expecting you to accept the first round of terms. They expect you to ask for more and are typically willing to ‘sweeten the pot’ by adding to the offer with a higher base salary, a sign-on bonus, some equity or another way to compensating you. Sometimes they even offer an extra paid week of vacation, a car, paid public transportation, local gym membership and other things. So don’t feel that you will miss out on the job if you ask for more, in the first round.
- Do your research. Determine the benchmarks for your industry and for that particular position. It is no longer legal to ask what you made in your last position, but you can opt to offer that information if you like. For instance, say they are offering a base salary of $75k and your last base salary was $85k, tell them that and tell them that you have clearly earned the higher amount. Go to web sites like Glassdoor.com to do your salary research.
- Buy time. When you are juggling three job offers and one of them is your preferred organization, see if you can say that you are highly attracted to the position/the company but want to ask some additional questions directly to the management. See if they will allow you to prepare some questions and get them in within a few days. Thereby you have some time. Or, just ask them if you can have a few days to think about the offer. Typically you will be given a few days.
- Always a Risk to Defer. Do keep in mind that it is always risky when you ask for time to make a decision. Companies typically have 2-3 top candidates and if you say ‘no’ they might quickly go to the runners-up! But if you ask for a day or two, or have questions for them, they typically will allow you a few days. You might want to find out if there is an urgency in filling the role.If there is, you might want to take a ‘bird in the hand’…the offer that has been presented to you, not one that just might come along.
Yes, it can be tricky and nerve-wracking to juggle job offers because you don’t have a crystal ball and because you don’t want to be left with no job at all. But do know that typically you can buy some time and find out which position looks best.
Also remember that you are always a more attractive job candidate when you are employed. I always encourage my clients who’ve had a long term job search to take a position even if it doesn’t seem ideal. Sometimes it turns out to be better than they thought and if not, at least they are back to regular paychecks and they are much more attractive to the next employer.
Good luck, John, and I hope this information proves helpful to you.
All the best,