Job offers, counter offers and competing offers

Receiving a job offer can be an exciting event in your career. But in order to make the right decision it's important to take a calm and measured approach.

This is especially true if the initial offer results in a counter bid from your existing employer, or you’re involved in an additional process with a second organisation.

First of all, don't make a rash decision. Give yourself some time. Don't be frightened to ask for a few days to think it over. Discuss it with family and friends and use them as a sounding board. By talking through your thoughts out loud, it can help crystallise your thinking. However, don't be over influenced by what others might say. Trust your instincts - after all, it will be you who will be doing the job.

Don't jump at the first offer

If you are fortunate enough to be involved in the process for two roles, don't jump at the first offer. Try to manage things so you can take each process to its natural conclusion. Doing this successfully requires tact, diplomacy and patience - either on your part or the part of your recruitment consultant - but it's worth the effort.

Compare and contrast job offers then decide

You will be in a much better position to compare, contrast and ultimately decide.

If you receive a counter offer, whether it's from your current employer or a second application, don't use this to generate a bidding war. It can be a tempting strategy – especially when using an intermediary – but it is a dangerous game to play. Handled badly, it can result in one or both offers being withdrawn.

Dealing with one job offer

If you are only dealing with one offer but are tempted to hold out for more money, make sure you have reasons which are valid, reasonable and justifiable. And before you start the negotiation process, ask yourself: do you intend on taking the role if more money is offered? If the answer is no, then there is no point in asking. You don't want to burn your bridges. It can be a surprisingly small world.

Receiving a counter offer

If you do receive a counter offer from your existing employer and are tempted to accept it, make sure this decision isn't based solely on the fear of the unknown. Remind yourself why you started looking for a move in the first place. If the counter offer address these issues, it is worthy of consideration. But beware. Regrets usually result from decisions you don't make rather than from those you do. It is not uncommon for candidates who have accepted counter offers to return to the market within a matter of months.

How to reach the right decision in a job offer, counter or competing offer

Whether you are mulling over a single job offer, a counter offer or two competing offers, the best way to reach the right decision is to remind yourself of the reasons you initially began your search.

  • Were you seeking a new challenge?
  • More career progression?
  • Greater responsibility?
  • A different location?
  • More of a work / life balance?
  • Or was it simply a case of wanting more money?

Don't let salary dominate job offer decision making

If this last point is true, don't allow the salary alone to dominate your thinking. Look beyond the bare figures. Factor in potential for a bonus, pension entitlements, and any other additional benefits. Moreover, try to assess the scope for earnings growth as your career progresses.

Regardless of your motivations, research the role and the company. Hopefully at interview you will have asked the right questions.

  • What does the job involve on a day-to-day basis?
  • What is the team like?
  • How will I fit into the working culture?
  • What are my manager's expectations of me?
  • How will my career develop?

By recognising your own motivations, taking time to think things through, and doing due diligence on your potential new employer, you will arrive at a decision which is right for you and right for your career.

Final thought: are you excited about the job prospect?

And remember: moving jobs can be a lot like moving house. You want to be in a position where you are excited about the prospect. If this isn't the case, you should probably stay where you are.

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