Life is full of choices. Should I wash the car or go to the movies? Should I buy that house or this one? Bacon or sausage with your breakfast platter?
The options are astounding, sometimes even overwhelming. Some are big decisions, others are small but every time we decide to zig instead of zag, we are making choices that impact our lives. Most times we are unaware of the impact a choice will have on our lives.
Job search is full of choices. We must make choices but how can we be sure we are making the right choice? Will either option bring me to the right place?
Recently a client, Marcus, reached two job search decision crossroads.
First Crossroad. He received a job offer from his number two company. His top choice seemed to disappear into the wind after a few seemingly successful interviews. Should he take the offer in hand from Company #2 or wait to see what happens with his top choice, Company #1?
Marcus has a family to support. He was out of work for months and feeling nervous. He tried stalling Company #2 while prodding Company #1 but for reasons beyond the hiring manager’s control they were stuck. Then Company #1 got a new president which put a monkey wrench in all hiring.
Marcus felt he had no alternative but to accept the offer from Company #2 even though he was not thrilled. About the best he can say is that it pays well and looks good on the resume.
Second Crossroad. I bet you can guess what happened next. A month after Marcus accepted the offer from Company #2, Company #1 came back to him. “Can you come in next week with an interview with the hiring manager? Things settled down and we still want you.”
Should Marcus take the interview and potential job offer after starting work with Company #2 only a short time earlier? Some people couch this choice in terms of loyalty. Loyalty? Why should Marcus feel any loyalty to his new employer? Companies (any company) are not very loyal to employees these days. They hire and fire at will. Shouldn’t the employees have the same option?
What does it hurt to talk to another company? Shouldn’t we always have our feelers out to protect ourselves and advance our careers? It’s just a simple conversation.
Is Marcus happy at Company #2? Could he be happy? What could he do to be happier? Is the grass greener at Company #1? Will leaving Company #2 after such a short time harm Marcus’s his reputation? Is he burning bridges?
Here are some tips to making these choices:
- Compare both jobs to the list of preferences you made at the beginning of your job search in your job search marketing plan. You should always make job selection decisions based on an unemotional list of preferences, not on emotion-laden spur of the moment when you get an offer. If Company #1 is still a better option than Company #2, I would proceed with interviews.
- Do an extra thorough investigation of the people, responsibilities and expectation at Company #1 to be sure you will enjoy the job and thrive in the environment. You don’t want to jump away from Company #2 and be unhappy at Company #1. You also don’t want to make this important decision on money alone. If you feel completely sure that Company #1 is better then you must proceed.
- Imagine yourself ten years from now. Will you regret not taking this opportunity with Company #1? Then you must proceed.
If you decide to proceed with interviews and potential job offer with Company #1, handle the situation with Company #2 very carefully.
Be gentle but firm when you talk to your boss. Give her plenty of advanced notice. “Boss, a company I pursued during my job search just made me an offer I cannot refuse. I love it here but I owe it to my family to make the decision that is best for my career. I will be leaving in two weeks. I really appreciate everything you have done for me. Thank you.”
Do not use this other offer to negotiate a better package from Company #2. They will always doubt you in the future. If you want the offer from Company #1, then take it, but be respectful of Company #2.
Be very conscientious about transitioning your work to someone else. Like the Girl Scouts say, leave your campground cleaner than when you found it. It is the least you can do to ease the interruption your unexpected departure will cause. This careful handling minimizes the bridge burning possibilities.
Sometimes the wrong choice brings us to the right decision. Company #1 or Company #2? Make your decision based on factors important to your career and your family and you cannot go wrong!