How to Decide Between Two Jobs

Today’s boss tip is about a very good problem: deciding between two different job offers.

Now earlier this week, author Jenny Blake and I tackled a related career conundrum from a listener who asked, “Should I stay where I’m at or take a new opportunity?” So be sure to listen to episode 16 for more in-depth advice on that front, but here are a few top tips that I’ve found absolutely instrumental to job-seekers weighing multiple offers over the years:

First, make sure you’re working with complete information. Are these two job offers solid? Or, is one more like a potential opportunity that hasn’t yet materialized? Don’t stress yourself out about solving a problem that isn’t real yet. In other words, don’t spend too much time stressin’ if one of these opportunities is only hypothetical.

Second, look at the big picture. Which job do you feel will offer you the chance to grow in the direction you’re most interested in over the long-term? And, I’m not talking about the industry or mission of the organization, like you want to “get non-profit experience” before ultimately entering politics or “work in academia” before pursuing original research. You have to think much more on the nitty-gritty, day-to-day level about which position will offer the most learning.

I know it’s hard to ignore big discrepancies in pay and other perks, but gauging your potential for learning and growth are often overlooked, uber-important considerations for long-term happiness. We humans have an innate need for a sense of progress in our lives, so don’t be blinded by benefits packages if the job you’re being offered seems static and without the potential for growth.

Know your must-haves and stick to your line in the sand. I once spoke with a woman in her 40’s in DC who had been weighing a director position at a global company. After weeks of interviews and negotiation, she was thrilled about the opportunity and her negotiations had resulted in her getting 9 out of 10 of her must-haves met. So, what did she do with their final offer? She turned it DOWN! To an under-employed intern in my 20’s I thought her decision was laughable. Wasn’t she going to be filled with career FOMO for the rest of her life? But she knew that the items on her must-have list were there for a reason, and wasn’t willing to set herself up to fail.

Beware of false comparisons. Maybe you’ll find a pro/con list helpful for keeping things organized, but I’m not a fan. And, here’s why: listing out a pro like “$15,000 more in salary” for one job, next to another perk like “the ability to fulfill my lifelong dream to travel the world,” sets up false equivalencies. How much is fulfilling a lifelong dream worth to you? It’s hard to say.

Comparing the ability to live in a city you’ve always wanted to live in versus a 401k match? It’s not about which job earns the most brownie points. It’s about which one fits you best.

Which brings me to my final tip to keep in mind: figure out what really matters to YOU. It’s time to ditch all the “should” in your life that might be coming in from friends, family, and even that voice in the back of your head telling you that there’s a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ choice to be made here. There isn’t! Turning down a job that might be a dream job for someone else is perfectly okay.

Listen to your gut and think about what future you will want. And finally, know this: all you can ask of yourself is to make the best possible decisions with the information you have, at the time you need to make this choice. So even if later on you look back on this choice as a misstep, don’t beat yourself up about it, just as you wouldn’t rag on someone who’s learning to ride a bike just for taking their first few falls.

If you put these boss tips to work for you, let me know how it goes! Are you facing a fork in the road? What have you found helpful when choosing your next move? Share your experience in the comments section below, or in the Bossed Up Courage Community on Facebook now.

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