At a glance
Many job seekers are well acquainted with the daunting process of drafting exhaustive lists of pros and cons when presented with more than one job offer.
In countries where the jobs market is recovering from the lows of the pandemic, it is a great time to look for a job, but the wide choice of jobs on offer means many job seekers must now brush up on their decision-making skills and their approach to weighing up multiple job offers.
Roxanne Calder, founder and managing director of recruitment firm EST10, points out that unemployment in Australia has been at its lowest since 1974, and that “there is roughly only one unemployed person per job vacancy”.
The result is an ultra-competitive employment market in which candidates actively looking for a new position are “likely to be facing a minimum of two different offers”, says Calder. Often, “these are opportunities for advancement and promotion”.
Many job seekers now face a dilemma: how do you choose between multiple attractive job offers?
Step 1: start with a list
The first step is to list what’s critical to you, suggests Calder. Work out whether it’s culture, management style, opportunities for advancement or a hybrid work arrangement that is most important to you.
It’s crucial that you have a clear picture of your priorities at the beginning of your job hunt before any offers roll in.
“Know what you want before you go into it,” says Calder.
If you compile the list after you start to interview for roles, your judgement may be skewed by the offers you receive.
Calder gives an example: “You want to work from home, but an in-office position offers better remuneration. You might think, ‘I thought hybrid was important to me, but guess what? They’re giving me an extra A$30,000, and I’m going to be in the office five days a week. That’s fine – I don’t really want hybrid’,” she says.
“You accept the role, overlooking that working from home was one of your priorities before you started looking for a job.
“Six months later – when the ‘sparkle’ has worn off – you may have more money, but you don’t have the flexibility you wanted,” says Calder.
At that point, you might realise that you’re not happy in the role. Being clear about your priorities from the outset can help avoid this eventuality.
Be aware that it can be hard to be objective when weighing up job offers with differing benefits. A fresh perspective can cut through any biases we hold.
“I always advocate using someone who knows you well [and] who will give you answers that you might not want to hear – it could be an ex-boss, it could be a mentor, it could very well be your partner or a friend,” says Calder.
Weighing up multiple job offers might be a complex undertaking, but it’s important not to delay decision-making, says Calder.
“If you get an offer, for example, on a Friday and you ask for the weekend, that’s normal. But then on Monday, they’re chasing you, and you ask for another two days because you’re trying to weigh it up or play it off against another job offer – that’s not a good thing to do.”
Such tactics send the message that “actually, your offer to me isn’t a priority – and no one likes to feel like that”. she says.
Ask for enough time to review a contract – in writing, says career expert Amalia Chilianis. Remember, “nothing is an offer until you’ve received the paperwork”.
Ensure you’re clear on base salary, the superannuation component and any extra benefits, bonuses or incentives.
Super is “one thing that catches a lot of people out”, says Chilianis, who also recommends checking terms and conditions such as probation and notice periods.
It’s also prudent to research prospective employers online.
“When you’ve got two job offers on the go, you want to make sure you’re moving towards a company that’s in a strong position with opportunities for future growth,” says Chilianis.
“It’d be really disappointing to accept an offer and then, shortly after starting, find the company is in financial difficulty when maybe the other offer was a more stable avenue.”
The importance of salary
There is no doubt that money is a key factor when evaluating a job offer – especially in the current climate of increased cost of living.
“Everybody’s feeling the pinch,” says Chilianis.
Often, “it’s not a straight comparison” between offers, she says.
“One employer might be offering a slightly better salary, but another might be offering some salary sacrifice options, which are beneficial from a tax perspective... It’s not always the salary. You have to look at the whole range of benefits that are on offer.”
Money “can be something that will sway people in the wrong way”, notes Calder, who says it’s important “not to get caught up the dollar amount” and instead include “culture, team, learning style, advancement for the future and values” in the equation as well.
“All those things need to come into play, not just what the dollars are.”
Like Calder, Chilianis warns against “being bedazzled by the dollar figures on the contract and not making sure that the company aligns with your values”.
Make sure “it’s work you would enjoy doing and is adding something to your career rather than going backwards”.