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How to choose between job offers

Kate Allen, Executive Chair and Marketing Director, Allen Associates

More than one job offer on the table? An ideal scenario – right? Well it certainly could be, if you approach multiple job offers in the right way. Having more than one job offer to choose from is undoubtedly exciting and a great confidence boost but potentially stressful and difficult to manage too. This blog will help you to decide between job offers and avoid some of the most common blunders along the way. When you put these two factors together, you end up with a complex and challenging recruitment market. Employers are facing the worst staff shortages for 25 years and it appears that many businesses in Oxford and across Oxfordshire have been taken completely unawares, as Kate Allen, Managing Director at Allen Associates, explains.

When most people embark on their job search, they hope to secure an interview for their dream job and then do everything they can to nail it.  Afterall, securing a job offer is what it's all about.

But what happens when the job market works in your favour and demand for excellent candidates like you means that you end up securing more than one job offer?

This is a great result and you should feel proud of getting to this point. It's what you do next that is up for discussion.  Your next step is crucially important, not just in terms of your own future but also in safeguarding your reputation and the relationships you have forged with your recruitment agency and potential employers.

What should I do if I receive more than one job offer?

The key to successfully managing multiple job offers is transparency. Be open and honest with your recruitment agency, any potential employers and your existing employer if relevant (for example, if they are aware of your situation and have made you a counter-offer).

You will gain everyone's respect if you talk openly about your situation and explain that you are taking a day or two to explore the offers in more detail and mull over your options. This is an ideal opportunity to ask more questions and involve your recruitment consultant in the decision-making process. At Allen Associates, we have a wealth of experience in negotiating the best deals for our candidates so it is worth using us as a sounding board.

The worst thing you can do is 'disappear' and ignore emails and phone messages. This looks really unprofessional and may make you, and your recruitment consultant, look bad in the eyes of the employer. It may even lead them to retract their offer, particularly if it was a closely-fought race and there are other candidates in the pipeline.

How do I decide between job offers?

Ultimately it is down to you to weigh up the pros and cons of each opportunity to arrive at a decision  which is right for you. However, it is useful to apply the same criteria to each scenario so that you can make a like-for-like comparison.

The following checklist may help to guide your thought process:

1. Research

You probably researched your prospective employer as part of your interview preparation. Depending on how much work you have already put in, you may want to dig a little deeper to find out more about the organisation and the people that work there.

  • Take a more in-depth look at their website.
  • Visit Glassdoor for useful insights into the culture as well as salary benchmarking information.
  • Look at the organisation's LinkedIn posts as well as individual comments from colleagues and/or managers that you may be working with; these may shed new light on the working environment, activities they are involved in, company values and ethos.

If you still have questions, don't be afraid to go back to the potential employer or your recruitment agency to ask them to fill in any gaps. It's best to do this once, putting all your questions forward in one go. This makes you look organised and shows respect for their time. It's also important to do this as quickly as you can after receiving the job offer.

2. Culture and team fit

Our candidates tell us that culture and team fit are hugely important to them – as they are for employers too. As described above, there are things you can do to get a better feel for an organisation, its purpose and its values, and what it is like to work there.

Hopefully you will have had a chance to discuss these issues during the interview process and ideally will have met, or found out about your line manager and/or colleagues, together with opportunities for team work, collaboration and socialising. If you have any concerns in this area, it's worth discussing them with your recruitment consultant.

3. The role

The role will almost certainly have appealed to you and ticked enough boxes for you to have applied for it and gone for the interview in the first place.

However, as you've gone through the process, things may have changed and the role may not be quite what you had envisaged. Hopefully, through your conversations with your recruitment consultant and the employer, you will have a better understanding of the requirements of the role and whether it is in fact right for you.

When looking at your job offers, you may want to reassess the roles themselves to make sure they will meet your needs. These will vary enormously from person to person. For example, you may be looking for a role that challenges and stimulates you, taking you outside of your comfort zone; you may be looking to develop new skills and bolster your experience in a particular area; you may be looking for stability and a role that plays to your current strengths; you may be looking for a role that gives you more flexibility and more time with your family; or it may be about ambition and a clear pathway to the top.

Whatever you are looking for in your next role, it should form an important part of the decision-making process.

4. Career prospects

How ambitious are you? Is your next move all about promotion and furthering your career? Or are you happy at the level you are currently working at?

Your career aspirations – or lack of them – will probably form part of your thinking about the roles on offer and will help you decide which employer is best placed to provide the support, training and personal development opportunities you are after.

5.  Work-life balance

Achieving a great work-life balance means different things to different people but one thing most of our candidates have in common, is the desire to work in a fulfilling role for an employer whose values are aligned to their own.

Candidates are increasingly aware of the importance of good mental health and will be looking to work for employers that are committed to this. They are also looking for a degree of flexibility, with a combination of home and office-based working proving to be the most popular.

What are your absolute must-haves? Don't forget to evaluate each job offer against the criteria you've identified as most important to you. Beware too long a checklist though! As much as employers may be committed to delivering a good work-life balance, they have to do so within the context of their particular business and the role. A degree of realism may be required on both sides but nevertheless, it's worth identifying any 'non-negotiable' elements up front as these may be deal breakers and help to cement your choice of job offer.

6. Salary and benefits

Just about everyone wants to be well rewarded for the work that they do. It is incumbent on employers to do their homework, keep up with the market and regularly benchmark their salaries to make sure they are competitive and that their benefits are relevant and of interest to new recruits.

Hopefully, the salaries and benefits being offered to you are in the same ball park. Understandably, if there is a large discrepancy, this may skew your thinking. We would urge you not to base your decision on reward alone as there are many other factors that need to be considered. We do occasionally meet candidates that are solely money and benefits driven but this is rare. Far more often, decisions are based on a wide range of considerations so it is important to evaluate all aspects carefully, as tempting as the pound signs may be!

How quickly should I respond to a job offer?

It is good manners to respond quickly. If you receive a job offer on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, you should aim to respond by the end of the week. If the job offer comes through on a Thursday or a Friday, then it would be reasonable to think about it over the weekend and respond on Monday.

If you take more than a couple of days to respond, it will almost certainly sound alarm bells. The employer or recruitment consultant may think you are not interested or label you a 'time waster'.

Ideally, you should deal with every job offer professionally and responsibly. Be open and honest about where you are in the decision-making process. If you are considering more than one offer, then say so. If you are waiting for the outcome of another interview, then let everyone know.

Equally, if you are no longer interested, it is only fair that you let everyone know as soon as possible so as not to hold up the recruitment process. There may be other candidates they are interested in, who are waiting in the wings.

How should I decline a job offer?

Everyone involved in your recruitment journey will be grateful for a speedy, open and honest response. If you decide not to accept a job offer, don't be afraid to let your recruitment consultant know at the earliest opportunity – or the employer if you are dealing with them direct.

Remember, it's disappointing for employers when they lose out on their first choice of candidate but you can help to smooth the way through good communication. A phone call is always appreciated, but failing that, an email that briefly sets out your reasons for declining the offer and thanks the parties for their time, will go a long way.

No-one will hold it against you if you choose another offer over theirs. It's only when candidates 'disappear' and don't respond, that it creates a bad impression, potentially leaving your recruitment consultant to pick up the pieces. Everyone invests a lot of time and energy in the process, so it's only fair to keep each other informed and updated.

Can you change your mind after accepting a job offer?

Absolutely. In an ideal world, you'll have given the offer sufficient thought that this isn't an issue but if, for whatever reason, you do have a change of heart or circumstance, you should let your recruitment consultant and/or employer know as soon as possible. A phone call is the quickest and surest way of letting people know, but failing that an email will do.

If you have already signed a contract, you may need to revisit the terms and tailor your response accordingly. Your recruitment consultant will be able to help you or, if you are dealing with the employer direct, it's always best to contact them to discuss the best way forward.

How to decline a job offer without harming your reputation

Daunting though it may be, it is always best to respond quickly and to be open and honest in your approach.

Ultimately, you want to be perceived in a good light, regardless of which job offer you go for. The world of work is a surprisingly small place and your personal brand is a precious commodity. 
It's always worth taking the time to represent yourself well, to be transparent and truthful (even when it feels really difficult and awkward) and treat everyone involved in the recruitment process with the same courtesy and respect as you would wish to be treated yourself.

That way, you can be confident that doors will always be left ajar for you and that you will leave a positive and lasting impression.

Allen Associates carefully matches candidates to temporary and permanent roles at all levels within PA and Administration, Marketing, HR and Finance.
To find out more about the jobs market in Oxford, Oxfordshire and London, please visit the For Candidates section of our website, or browse our latest jobs.
For all other enquiries, please contact us.

About the Author

Kate Allen is the founder and Managing Director of Allen Associates.

Read Kate's bio and meet the rest of the team, here.