Five Steps to Decide Between Competing Job Opportunities
A comprehensive guide for professionals at the director level and above
If you plan to make a big career move, chances are you’re looking for more than money from a new opportunity.
At the director level and above, weighing competing job offers becomes more complicated as you consider benefits such as stock options, health care, and deferred compensation alongside less tangible factors like flexibility and company culture.
Use this guide as a roadmap to navigate competing job offers as a director or executive so you can accurately evaluate the entire package and act accordingly.
Step 1: Conduct Comprehensive Due Diligence
When you have competing job offers in hand, start with thorough research into each opportunity and company. Create a spreadsheet to compare and contrast the offers across priorities that include:
- Key responsibilities of each role, including the indicated amount of travel
- Flexibility, such as the ability to work from home if you prefer to do so
- Geographic location, including whether you would need to relocate, the estimated cost of doing so, and the cost of living relative to the salary offered
- Company culture, including how well the mission and vision align with your own
- Compensation, including salary, bonuses, deferred compensation, equity, and non-cash compensation such as stock options
- Intellectual fulfillment
- Career trajectory and timeline
- Longevity of current employees at the company
Include any additional factors that will play a role in your decision. You might find that one offer immediately stands out. If that doesn’t happen, move on to step two.
Step 2: Know Your Worth
If your new role will put you on a higher rung of the corporate ladder, you might not know what a good offer looks like at the next level.
Carefully research average compensation for a position with your responsibilities in the same industry and geographic area. You’ll get a ballpark figure that will help you evaluate employment offers and immediately identify those that underestimate your worth as an employee.
Step 3: Create a Ranking System
Review your spreadsheet and narrow it down to your top 10 priorities for your next opportunity. Rank these priorities in order from absolute musts to nice but not necessary. Then, assign each job offer a number according to how well it fulfills each priority. This type of system provides a quantitative analysis that could help guide your decision.
Step 4: Review Special Considerations
If your next opportunity will place you in the C-suite, additional concerns could affect your willingness to accept a particular opportunity. For example, you may have to sign a non-compete agreement, which could severely limit your ability to seek other opportunities if the role ultimately isn’t a good fit.
According to data from Monster.com, nearly half of executives leave a new position within the first 18 months. For this reason, you should closely review the details of the available severance package before you take a role at this level.
If you’ve reached this level in your career, you might have a personal brand that provides additional income and recognition through online content, books, articles, podcasts, and speaking engagements. In this case, consider the legal implications of a potential conflict with an available offer for an executive role.
Step 5: Control the Negotiations
When you need time to decide between competing job offers, try to guide the companies’ timelines to your advantage by proactively suggesting a deadline for your decision. If you already know you would prefer to work for a company that hasn’t yet made an offer, ask about their decision timeline if you have a firm offer from a second company on the table.
Sometimes, having two or more offers on the table increases their value. For example, you can ask your preferred company to match an offer from a less-appealing employer that nonetheless offers a higher salary. In some cases, you may negotiate more time off or other perks from a preferred employer to make up for a comparatively low salary.
Before signing a contract with either company, ask for the final terms of both offers in writing. When you make your decision, respond to all offers in writing. Graciously declining employment opportunities can help you maintain a good professional relationship in case you want to work for that firm in the future.
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