We can often focus on the negatives during our job search; what to do if we don’t get a position we’ve applied for, or how to remain positive after a job rejection. But what happens if you’ve applied for multiple roles and then receive job offers for all of them, or at least two or three? Choosing between two job offers is actually a more common scenario than you might think – especially with so many areas in the public sector starting to build and grow their team post covid. While having two or more offers to choose from is a definite cause for celebration, the challenge then becomes choosing what role you go with. Luckily, here at Public Sector People we have developed some key steps to help you navigate the process, to ensure you choose the best option for you and don’t burn any bridges along the way.
Get All The Facts
If you’ve received at least two written job offers within the same time frame, it’s important to take the time to weigh up the pros and cons of each job before making a final choice. While the majority of us are spending less and less time in one job these days, recent statistics from Indeed reveal that 22% of Australians will remain in a job between 3 and 4 years and 21% of Australians will remain in a job for 5 to 10 years! (Indeed, 2019) That’s a significant portion of your life, so you want to be sure you’re spending it doing something you enjoy, or that gives you job satisfaction. Furthermore, when considering a new job offer, you also need to think about how it aligns with your long-term career goals. Is there potential for career development, is there a chance to learn new skills and gain new experiences that could be beneficial for your development long term?
To help you navigate that decision-making process, Alison Doyle (a job search expert that writes for the publication The Balance Careers) suggests compiling your own decision matrix, where you establish the top ten values or traits you look for most in a job. She suggests the key areas to focus on are job title, job security, workplace culture, financial and non-financial benefits, potential work commute, career potential and learning & development opportunities (2019). Once your values have been established you can then assign a weight to each value to determine how important it is to you and then finally assign a number from 1 to 10 to indicate how well a particular job performs within that certain value. You can then tally up the final scores to determine which job offer was able to fulfil the majority of your key values.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go with that organisation- your gut feeling on both job options should also come into play- however, it can be a great exercise in helping you consider all elements of each job and clearly define your professional goals.
Conducting something like a decision matrix can also alert you to any unanswered questions you might have, or information you don’t know about either job and gives you the perfect opportunity to go back to your prospective employer for clarification on things prior to committing to anything.
Work with a Recruiter
Another strategy many job seekers employ when looking for a new job is seeking out a recruitment company or specialised consultant in their industry, to help with their search. The advantage of using a recruitment agency, is that they work with multiple clients and can present you with a number of different relevant opportunities that align with your interests.
When trying to decide between job offers, a consultant can provide some additional insight into the organisation that can help aid your decision-making process, such as workplace culture, reputation and overall performance relative to others in the market.
If you’ve also received a job offer from one organisation and are waiting to hear back from another, passing this information on to the consultant you’re working with on the role you’re waiting on can also be beneficial as they can follow up the job offer with the second organisation or client in question to see if they can fast-track a final decision.
What if you’re waiting on a particular job offer?
Navigating job offers can become difficult when you’ve received a job offer from one organisation but are still waiting to hear back from another that you feel has potential. Before making any final decisions, however, it’s important to ensure the offer you’ve received is a written offer; verbal offers are not considered 'final'. This can buy you some additional time, because if you’ve only received a verbal offer, you can go back to the organisation, HR professional or recruiter who presented the verbal offer and say something like, ‘This is great news and sounds fantastic. I’d like to sit down and review all the details, when should I expect to receive the written offer?”
Alternately, If you have received a written job offer from one organisation, but are still waiting to hear back from another, it’s important to remember that while asking for time or taking too long on a decision within the recruitment process can translate as ‘not keen’, it’s also reasonable to ask for a day or two once receiving a job offer before giving a final decision.
Once you’ve received an offer, it’s important to show excitement and appreciation but be honest with your prospective employers. Ask when they’d like to have a final decision and say you’d like a day or so to go over everything before getting back to them. You should also be upfront with potential employers during the final stages of the interview process if you have interviewed with other organisations, or have received another written job offer. Most organisations will expect a strong candidate to receive interest from other clients and will appreciate your transparency. Furthermore, if an organisation has been dragging their feet on making a final decision, knowing that these delays will mean they miss out on a potential candidate could spur them on to make a decision faster.
You can always reach out to the organisation in question - or ask during your final interview - when they expect to make a final decision, to give you a better idea of timeframes and whether or not it would be feasible to keep another organisation hanging, in order to wait on their final decision.
It’s also important to remember that being upfront about additional offers can open up the possibility for further negotiations on a particular element of your job offer like salary, flexible work options, or job title if it’s something that your overall decision is riding on. Again, working with a recruiter can help with negotiations as they will have an established relationship with the prospective employers.
Ultimately, the number one thing candidates should avoid during this uncertain time is accepting a job offer under pressure, only to retract it a week or two later once a better offer comes along. Retracting your offer will not only damage your reputation with the organisation but everyone involved in the recruitment process. Once a candidate has accepted an offer, the organisation will then notify other applicants and remove the job posting. So, when a candidate withdraws at the final stages of the recruitment process, the organisation has potentially lost other candidates they were considering. It’s important not to burn any bridges during your job seeking process, as you never know when you’ll encounter these networks, organisations etc. later in your career. Which is why being honest from the get-go and informing relevant parties if you are weighing up other options, is important.
Once you make a decision
Once you’ve received your written job offers, carefully evaluated each opportunity against your set criteria and made a final decision, you then need to let all parties know what you’ve decided.
Firstly, formally accept the offer from your chosen organisation. This includes sending an email with your acceptance in writing, signing your employment contract and confirming start dates, so that you can effectively transition into your new opportunity. Once this has been confirmed, it’s important that you close out any pending interviews or hiring conversations to ensure you are not wasting anyone's time. Be honest and say you’ve accepted another position but thank them for their time, the opportunity and their patience during the process- especially if they’ve cooperated with your request for extra time and consideration. Again, you want to ensure you end any conversations on good terms, so as not to burn any bridges. You should also reach out to members of your network that helped or were involved in your job search; any recruiters you worked with, a former colleague that provided a reference or shared a contact with you etc. Update them on your final decision and thank them for taking the time to help you. Again, this helps to maintain and grow the professional relationships you’ve built.
Ultimately, choosing between two great job offers can seem daunting but it’s important to remember that it’s a positive situation; two organisations believe in your potential and want you to join their team! You have more control in the recruitment process, when you have more options available so it’s important to take the time to weigh up each option and be transparent with all involved parties along the way, to ensure you make the right decision for you and maintain good relationships with your professional network.
For those looking for career advice- especially during the early stages of their job search- or those contemplating looking for new opportunities within the public sector, our team of consultants at Public Sector People are always happy to help. You can contact us at the details below:
Phone: 03 8535 3100
 Indeed. 2019. Job Seeker Journey Part 4: How Long Do Australians Stay at a Job Before Moving On? Retrieved from http://blog.au.indeed.com/2019/05/17/how-long-do-australians-stay-job-at-a-job/#:~:text=While%20people%20aren't%20staying,%25%20for%205%2D10%20years.
 Alison Doyle. 2019. How To Handle Multiple Job Offers. The Balance Careers. Retrieved from: https://www.thebalancecareers.com/how-to-juggle-multiple-job-offers-2061403