Take it or Leave It? - What to do With a Job Offer



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How many times during your search have you said to yourself - and anyone else who would listen - "If only I had a job offer, that would make everything better. Those people who have job offers have it easy. I wish I had the luxury of considering what to do with an offer! "


Over the past 60 days, I have received a number of calls from individuals who have "gotten what they wished for", but somehow, "the grass isn't greener on the other side". In other words, they have received an offer from a legitimate business - not someone offering to pay them a 100% commission if they will peddle the latest and greatest product or service - but the offer is far from ideal. Either the pay is 25% - 50% lower than what they made in their last position; it is a long-term consulting engagement without any benefits, rather than a full-time position; or perhaps the position would require them to do the same work they did 15 years ago; or, the job is 50 miles away and the company doesn't offer flex hours.


On the surface, this is exactly what the individual was asking for - a chance to consider an offer. It feels great to have secured an offer after working so hard over the past 7 months to find a job. Before receiving the offer, she was envisioning herself sliding back into the routine of getting up early, putting on professional clothes, heading to Starbucks for the morning dose of caffeine and driving to an office where a real desk and chair await her! She can finally get back to the work she has been missing! And most importantly, she can stop the endless chain of networking, attending events, updating LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook every 3 hours and searching endlessly for that perfect online job posting (*Note: it probably doesn't exist).


Unfortunately, while she has an offer in hand, she is not sure it is the right offer. But what should she do? There are bills to pay! The longer she's in transition the more concerned she becomes that her skills will become irrelevant. Moreover, she is concerned that sooner or later, employers might begin to wonder why she is having so much trouble landing a job. She is also concerned about the message she will send to the marketplace if she turns down an offer. How can she possibly weigh all of these factors to make a final decision?


Fortunately, there are three steps that each job seeker should take that will ease the stress of receiving any offer: prioritizing, anticipating and committing


Prioritizing ("Be careful what you wish for") refers to the preparation that should occur once a first round interview evolves into a second interview. Ask yourself these important questions:


As i move through the interview process, what aspects of the job do I need to clarify (responsibilities, corporate culture, upward mobility, contributions to the overall business, location, hours, etc. )?

How does this position compare to my ideal job (Note: this assumes you have articulated your ideal job before you decided to apply for the job in the first place)?

Which aspects - if any - of my "ideal job" am I willing to forego for this position?

Will this type of work make me happy?

Anticipating ("Think before you act") refers to the moment when you're confident you are the final candidate being considered for the job - or better yet, the moment when you are told that you are the final candidate. At this point, it is time to visualize yourself driving to the office, doing the job on a daily basis, working at the company, sitting in the chair and informing your peers and that you are now part of this organization. Again, ask yourself these questions:


Will i be happy, engaged and challenged in this position?

Based on what I have heard, in what range do i expect the offer to be and would I be willing to accept the offer at the very low end of that range? How low is too low?

How will i react to the offer and how much time will I need to make a final decision?

Are there any deal breakers that would cause me to turn down this job? What if the company tells me to "Take it or leave it"?

Finally, committing ("Do it right the first time") refers to your ability to view this position as a long term role rather than a short term paycheck. This is extremely important as you do not want to accept the job based solely on your desperation and desire to "get a job". These three questions are significant and should not be taken lightly:


Can i see myself in this job 1 year from now?

What will I do if i accept this job and another offer comes along in 3 months?

What are my odds of succeeding in this position? Am I being set up for success?

Will i be truly happy if i take this job or will i be replacing the stress of finding a job with the stress of being in a job that is unfulfilling?

In today's job market, a little forethought goes a long way. It is imperative that job seekers focus on getting the right offer. In the end, the only expressions that matter are the ones that my mother engrained in me from a very early age - "Think before you act" and "Do it right the first time"

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