How to Choose Between Jobs
Hey good morning, this is Chris, and I’m responding to a question that came up during a recent training I delivered. The question that was posed to me was: “How should one choose between job offers, if you’re in the situation where you have more than one job offer to choose from?” This also can apply to somebody who is currently employed and gets an offer from another firm to join them. How can they choose whether or not they should make the switch?
Harder to choose than many think
A lot of the MBAs that I’ve coached over the past couple of years have wanted to be in that situation where they had more than one job offer to choose from, but when actually put into that situation they found it was a lot tougher than thought to make their decision, especially when both of those job offers were very good. So, I’m going to give you a few factors that you can think about if you’re in that situation where you’re trying to decide between two job offers or you’re trying to decide whether or not you should stay at your firm or move on to another firm.
Quality of Manager Relationship
So, the first factor I want to talk about is the quality of the relationship that you’re going to have with your manager. It can’t be overestimated how important it is to have a great relationship with your manager, whatever job or whatever role that you take. If you have a strong relationship with your manager, if your manager believes in you, respects you, and thinks of you as a high-quality individual, they’re going to steer you in the direction of better professional development opportunities. They’re going to choose you for those more important strategic projects – those more critical roles. They’re going to be more forgiving of you when you sometimes make mistakes, and as humans, we all make mistakes. And, they’re going to be supportive of you even if you one day decide to leave. Because they respect you as a professional, they going to help you get to where you want to be. So, if you have a choice, always choose a role where you have a stronger relationship, or a better opportunity to have a stronger relationship with your manager.
Growth, Learning, Challenge
A second factor I would highly encourage you to take into consideration is, when choosing between jobs, which job is going to offer you that bigger challenge? That bigger opportunity for growth and learning? You want to be in a job where you are developing skills that are in demand. You want to be more valuable to your employer, and more valuable to other firms in the market that might one day be looking for your talents. You want to choose a job where you’re going to have an opportunity to expand client relationships, and really learn how a business is successful. You want to choose jobs where you’re going to have a better opportunity to get exposure to senior management, and you want to make yourself more valuable not just to your employer but more valuable to other employers in the market who might be looking individuals with your skills at some point in the future. So, if you have a choice between two jobs, you should always choose the job going to offer you the greater opportunity for growth, learning, and challenge.
A third factor that I highly recommend you take into consideration is, when choosing between two jobs, which job is going to offer you an opportunity to develop a stronger network? When choosing between two jobs, keep in mind what kind of people will you meet in your job. Who can be helpful to your future endeavors? You want to think about it from the perspective of who, and what kind of people will be your colleagues, the people you’re working with, and oftentimes you may be working more hours with those people at work than spend time with your family. What kind of management team will be at the firm you’re going to work for? What kind of clients will you be working with? How much interaction will you have with clients? Will you be connected to, and will you get to know people who have the power to make things happen? You also want to think about choosing to spend time with people that you like, and people that like you. So, all of those factors go into evaluating the network of a potential job opportunity and if you have a choice between one or more jobs, you always want to choose the job that’s going to enable you to have that stronger network. Because in this world it’s not just a matter of who you know; very often it’s more important who knows you. The people you get to know, the people that respect you and trust you as a professional, well they’re going to introduce you to future opportunities and they’re going to call on you for help. So, having that strong network is a great argument for taking a job.
A fourth factor that I would recommend you keep in mind: think about your own values and always choose a company that has a closer alignment with your values. Do you fundamentally support the values embodied in the business model of whatever firm you might be thinking about working for? Does that company solve problems that you care about? There are certain companies that have values that may not align with yours. Some companies have a very strong emphasis on salesmanship, even to the point where you might feel like they’re somewhat exaggerating claims. In some firms, that kind of salesmanship is what it takes to be successful. Make certain you put yourself in a situation where those values align with yours. Are you interested in growing wealth? Are you interested in helping big companies get bigger and more successful or are you more interested in helping small companies succeed (the David and Goliath type situation)? Are you more interested in companies that focus on individual contribution or are you more interested in companies that focus on teams? Are you a competitive person or are you a more collaborative person? All of those things matter, and you want to choose a firm that has values that more closely align with yours. Another reason this matters is because the people who truly get promoted quickly, the people who make it to senior leadership positions, they’re chosen because they always go beyond the normal call of duty. They bring a level of effort and value to their roles that other people in their roles wouldn’t be able to do. You’re only going to be willing to put in that extra effort if you’re working for a firm that really aligns with your values and what you believe in. So, it’s in your interest to always choose a firm that has a closer alignment with your values.
Gain Should Outweigh Pain
The fifth area that I would encourage you to think about when evaluating job offers is there’s an element that I call the positive pain-gain trade off. For any job that you go into, there are going to some aspects of the job that you like, and there are going to be some aspects of the job that you don’t like. You’re paid a certain amount because of the stress, the pressure, the challenge of a role that you have taken on. You always want to make certain when evaluating between one or more job offers: does the role outweigh the pain? In other words, does the gain that you get, certain goals that you have, say there’s a certain amount of savings, or a certain title that you’re aspiring to, a certain position, a certain social status; Does all of that gain make up for the little bit of pain that you may be having to experience to successful in that role? And you should always NOT choose a job where you think you’re going to have a negative pain-gain trade off.
Compensation: Think Longer Term
The last aspect that I want you to think about is compensation. Many of the people that I’ve coached over the years are always interested in getting paid more money. But, I think that in the short term, you’re much better off weighting the other factors I’ve discussed over compensation. If you’re in a role where you have a great relationship with your manager, you’re growing, you’re learning, you’re developing an amazing network, you’re doing work that aligns with your values, and you have a positive pain-gain trade off, you’re going to be remarkably successful. You’re going to do those things that make you a top performer. So my recommendation is, the difference of a couple of thousand dollars or even sometimes tens of thousands of dollars between two job offers – don’t just think in the short term; think in the longer term. If you go into a role where you’re motivated to do best, to outperform the rest, the compensation will come, either from your current employer who realizes you’re too valuable to be let go, or from somebody else who sees the top quality work you do, and they recruit you to come help do that same work for them. So, don’t put too much emphasis on compensation in the short term, think about it more from the long term view.
Make the Choice
So I think if you keep in mind these six factors that I’ve spoken about, you’re going to be in a much better position to make that choice about which is a better job for you, when you’re in that great opportunity when you have multiple job offers to choose from.
I hope that you found this helpful. Speak to you again soon.