During your job search it’s quite likely that at some point you’ll be comparing offers from two or more companies. This can be a stressful time, deciding which employer is going to offer the best prospects for your future career. The right decision will see you joining a company where you’ll likely stay and prosper. Make the wrong decision, however, and you could find yourself back on the job market in three to six months. So how can you make the choice between two offers and not have any regrets? Read on for some useful tips that you can put into action immediately.
In a previous blog post, ‘Five ways to greatly increase your chances of getting a new job’, I talked about researching your target companies thoroughly before you attend any interviews. When you come to compare offers, this research will be a real help. You can look back at the reasons you applied for the roles in the first place and this will enable you to build a picture of each company with all the relevant knowledge included.
There are many ways to gather information nowadays and you probably know most of them. Social media is very useful, using Twitter and LinkedIn will give you valuable information. Don’t just stick to company profiles though. You will find personal profiles of people at those companies with ease, and they can yield excellent insights. For example, on Twitter, you’ll be able to get a good appreciation of company culture by looking at the profiles of employees. Some will post pictures from their office, with their colleagues and about the work they are doing. Some will post about office nights out or other social events. These all help to build a picture of the sort of people at the company and how they get treated. Remember that an employer brand is a piece of marketing, so you’ll only see the good bits. For real insight, look at the people who are posting on social media without an official mandate.
Another site to look at is Glassdoor. This is a review site where employees can leave a rating and comments about their employer. Keep in mind that some people may hold a grudge, and therefore might post negative comments. You can usually tell when someone is being deliberately negative and these reviews should form part of a wider research project on each potential employer anyway. If particular comments are coming up regularly, you can explore these tactfully during the interview process. All these points together should give you a good idea of the employer, which will in turn help you to decide whether to take the plunge or not.
The recruitment process can be very telling about the company’s approach to its employees. From the very first time you read a recruitment ad or visit the company’s website, you are forming opinions about that company from the way it is presented. Are the adverts well written? Badly written adverts or ones that contain spelling mistakes might be indicative of a wider issue with quality of work. Of course people do make mistakes, but if there are consistent errors across multiple ads, I would be wary. What is going on at the company and how is it acceptable for ads to go out with mistakes in them?
Does the website represent the company properly? Is there a careers section? Does it provide useful insight into the company? If not, why not? The careers pages should scream opportunity when you read them. You should feel engaged and be excited by the prospect of working for the company. If you are not then you need to understand why.
How did the company communicate with you throughout the process? Was it all one way? Were your questions answered and did you feel valued? Again, how you are treated is a good indication of how you will be treated when you join the company. Communications should be timely and you should feel informed at every step of the process. Using a recruitment company can help with this, as you will always be able to speak to someone who knows the company. Nevertheless, communications with the employer should leave you with a feeling that this is a place you would like to work at. When it comes down to deciding between two offers, the way you were treated throughout the process could be the deciding factor. I would see communications with candidates as an extension of the internal communications between the company and its employees. Trust your instincts, they are usually right.
Once you have been offered the job verbally, you then need to wait for an official offer to arrive in the post or by email. It can take a couple of weeks as HR departments are busy places, so don’t expect to have an offer on your doormat in three days. If you do though, then this is a great indication of a switched-on, efficient employer. It’s also up to you to understand the timescales involved. Ask how long it should take to receive an offer letter when you are offered the job verbally. If it takes two weeks and you are expecting it in a few days, you might start thinking negatively for no reason. That said, if you are told it takes two weeks and you have heard nothing for three weeks, then chase the employer. If the offer doesn’t materialise within the given timescale, it could either mean that something is wrong, or that the employer is inefficient. This may give you some insight into how things are done at the company. If they struggle to get an offer out, what is it going to be like when you need to get something done in your job that requires a team effort?
Existing employees are a great source of information about a company. I mentioned Glassdoor earlier, and this is an excellent place to start. Why not take it further though? If someone in your network is employed by the company, you could reach out to them for a confidential chat. Again whatever you find out needs to be taken in context with the rest of your research. Ideally you should speak to a few people before drawing conclusions. Have specific questions ready also, instead of asking, ‘So what’s it like working at the company?’ you could instead ask, ‘Sum up your experience working here in three words.’ Ask something different and you’ll get a more honest answer.
You can also ask in the interview to speak to some people who are doing a similar role, or even a different role. Most employers should welcome this, and if they don’t, you need to understand why. The company may have a favoured employee who gets wheeled out for every interview, but this person will be used to fielding questions and putting a positive spin on things. I’m not wanting to sound negative, but you need the whole picture. If the company is a great place to work but you’ll have zero chance of promotion, you would want to know this. Equally, if personal development is welcomed and supported, you would want to know this as well. Every bit of information is useful.
Is the salary in line with your expectations?
This subject should be covered at some point in the recruitment process. You may know the salary range before you apply, or you might find out later in the process. My personal opinion is that salary should be in the original job advert. Although there are industry standard salary ranges for all jobs, they can vary widely in reality and you don’t want to waste your time pursuing an opportunity if the salary just won’t pay the bills.
Salary should never be the sole reason for taking a job though. Whilst it’s nice to be rewarded well, there are many things more important that will ultimately dictate your success with the company. If you’re being paid a huge salary but you can’t bear working there every day, then you’ll leave. If all else is equal and salary is the difference between two offers, then of course you are likely to take the higher salary. Think about your long-term goals though. Will you be more successful on a slightly lower salary with more opportunities to progress? Again it comes back to having the complete picture.
When you have all the information you think you need, put it all into a spreadsheet to record it. You could even come up with a scoring system if you like figures, to help you out. If not, then a trusty pros and cons analysis can be really useful. Draw up two columns and list the pros and cons for each opportunity. Seeing it down on paper may make the choice obvious.
It also helps to talk things through with someone else. Your recruitment consultant should be impartial but not all are so be wary. You should find someone you can trust in any case who can be objective on your behalf. Work out what is important to you and assess both opportunities against these criteria. I am also a big believer in gut instinct. If you have nagging doubts then there will be a reason and you need to identify it.
When trying to decide between two job offers, you need to do your research thoroughly. Use social media profiles to see ‘under the surface’ of the companies and also sites such as Glassdoor. These can help you to see what a company is actually like to work for.
How was the recruitment process? Were you impressed? If you felt it was impersonal or that the company really didn’t seem bothered if you joined or not, then you should listen to your inner voice about it. Did the employer brand shine through in its communications? Was information provided about development and opportunities to progress?
Did the job offer arrive within the given timescale? This is another indication of how the company feels about employees and should be taken into account. If you were left waiting with no explanation, you probably felt deflated and that isn’t very positive.
Take the opportunity to engage with employees at the company. Ask them what it’s like to work there, what they would change, and how they feel their careers will progress. Listen to what they say, there is no better insight than from people who are working in the company every day.
Salary might end up being a deciding factor, but it shouldn’t be the deciding factor. If you join for money only then it might be a decision you regret. This goes right back to your original decision to leave your current employer. Why are you leaving, and what are you looking for? If all these questions are answered and your gut instinct says go for it, then go for it!
Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear about your job-hunting experiences in the comments below.
Lawford Knight is a specialist recruiter for marketing, digital and sales roles. We are passionate about recruitment and building long-term relationships with like-minded clients and candidates. Please contact us today to discuss your next hire or career move. www.lawfordknight.com
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