An offer in the hand is worth two in the pipeline… or is it?

Getting an offer is a great feeling, there’s no denying that. All those hours of preparation, rehearsal, interviewing, waiting, negotiating and, finally, the reward at the end of it all. But what about the other role you are at final stage with? Do you spurn it like a jilted lover, or do you give it a chance just in case it’s the perfect match? But what if you don’t get that offer, and what if you lose your current offer whilst you wait in vain? What if you take the first offer and make a mistake and regret things? What if, what if, what if… Starting to sound like a bad outtake from a South American soap opera isn’t it?

The reality is that it’s very rare for all processes to conclude at exactly the same time. Holidays, sickness, train delays, client indecision, diary clashes: the list is endless, and all of those factors will never align the way you want them to on two – or even more – separate processes.

With a bit of luck you are currently working so there is not an immediate pending mortgage crisis to cloud your judgement, but even if that isn’t the case you need to be objective about the roles in front of you. It’s much harder to leave the ‘wrong job’ because the ‘right job’ came in a month later after you had accepted, and spending the next 10 years justifying that decision to every recruiter and hiring manager you come across in future interviews is not the most positive way to present yourself.

So, what’s the best way to manage such an important career decision when there are so many moving parts all out of your control? Well, to avoid disintegrating into a pulp of indecision and anxiety, here are a few concrete pillars to build your decision making process upon:

What’s the worst that can happen

If you are currently in a role then there is no financial implication for letting all processes run their course. You cannot lose your current job (unless you leave your CV on the office printer of course!) so all you’re doing is window shopping at this point.

Evaluate each role in isolation

Think back to when you first saw the job specs for each role. What was it that excited you and what questions/reservations did you have about each one. Now, several stages into the processes, do they excite you more or less than before, and have those questions been answered fully and resolved? If you still don’t have answers then slow things down and ask again.

What are your key drivers

Take money out of the equation for a moment. The likelihood is that most roles will be paying a similar amount after tax has been taken off – give or take the odd bonus scheme or flexible working arrangement – so think about the non-financials that will make you happy in a new role.

Is flexible working important for you? Where is the office located and how does that effect your commute? Who have you met so far that you would be working with, and what were they like? (Here’s a clue, they should have been on super-duper first-date best behaviour, so if you didn’t click with them now, you probably never will).

If a work social life is important to you, then find out what kind of team activities they have done recently, and how much interaction there is between your immediate potential team and the wider firm.

Is travel a factor for you? How much travel is there in the role, and how often and how far? Do you get days off in lieu and will it be over weekends? Maybe you want to work abroad in the future, so what are the opportunities for international secondments in the firm?

What are the options for career progression? Will you be in the same role in 3-5 years or can you see opportunity to progress and grow within the company? Remember progression doesn’t just mean promotions and pay rises, it also means professional development and learning new skills.

What can you control and what can’t you control

Moving roles is a risk. But you can make it more of a calculated risk by understanding what you can control and what you will have to put in the ‘leap of faith’ box in your head. So let’s start with the obvious: you can control what salary you accept, you can control the location you will spend upwards of 50 hours a week in, and you can control the brand/product/service you will be working on. Those are easy comparisons to make between the competing roles in front of you.

Okay, so what are the things that you can’t control? What about the human element: you don’t really know if you will like the new team/boss/culture yet. And to be fair, unless you have a best friend who’s been there for 5 years, you probably won’t know for sure until you start. So unless there was an absolute dragon in the interview process, you may just have take a deep breath, jump in and experience it from the inside. No job spec or Glassdoor review will be as good as the real thing, so this is a gut instinct call here.

The C-word

If you’ve got to final stage or offer stage with one or more roles then you need to remind yourself that you are committed to leaving your current role. With that in mind, ignore the little voice in your head worrying that it may not be better than your current role. It will be different – part better and maybe part worse or the same – but it will be a change for you. And a change is exactly why you sent off your CV in the first place, right? So go into it eyes wide open, know your knowns and know your unknowns (nod to Donald – no, the other one obviously!), accept that either choice will lead to a change, and commit to your decision. After all, what’s the worst that can happen?

 

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