How to decide between job offers

Feelings about what is left behind and fears about what may lie ahead can stifle life and career choices. When it is time to shift and decide which job offer is best, career coach Kelli Thompson recommends five steps: Remember what moved you in a job you loved, be practical and pragmatic about the job you are chasing, reflect on your values to determine what you want, listen to your gut and look at the overall picture. And those rattling emotions that come with deciding on a new job? They’re not exclusively bad. Thompson says it’s OK “to be scared-cited.”

5 steps to use your head, heart, and gut for career direction

Career pivots often cause anxiety and nerves, deterring individuals from even trying. Yet, according to the 2022 Women In The Workplace report, women are leaving organizations in record numbers to gain more flexibility, to be rewarded more equitably for their efforts, to find a better culture, and to earn advancement opportunities. But there’s one concern I hear, as a career coach, over and over: How do I know if I’ve found the right company?

I coach my clients to use their head, heart, and gut during their decision-making process using the same 5-step process I used when deciding to cut my own interviewing process short.

Step 1: Reflect on how you felt in a job you loved

Look back at career moments where you felt the most productive and engaged in your work:

  • What helped you feel engaged?
  • What did you love most about the work itself?
  • The people you worked with?
  • The environment and company culture?

Step 2: Use your head to assess the job you’re going for

Grab a piece of paper and jot down facts about the role you are applying for:

  • What kind of work will you be doing?
  • How is the work different from what you’ve been doing? What excites you about that? What makes you nervous?
  • Is it the kind of work you want to do?
  • What is the salary? The benefits? Additional rewards and recognition?
  • Who will you be working with? What do you know about your coworkers and team?
  • What do you know about your new leader?

Step 3: Drop into your heart to determine what you want

I recommend treating this as a meditative exercise. Sit down, close your eyes, and think about these questions:

  • What do you want your life or work to stand for? What do you want to be known for as a person and a leader?
  • What values are important to you in a career?
  • What values does the organization hold that match yours? How do you know?
  • How did you feel after each interaction? What emotions come up?

Step 4: Listen to your gut

This is the intuitive feeling that comes up when you think about the job, the company, or the team you’ll be working with:

  • How does your energy feel when interacting with the people you’d be working with?
  • When you’re in the building? (if not virtual)
  • Given what you know about yourself and this role, what action does your gut say to take?

Step 5: Look at the overall picture

Use this exercise to identify conflicting feelings or to confirm your decision:

  • How will this company and role align with your values and talents?
  • What aspects of the role will contribute to you experiencing career fulfillment?
  • Do you feel energized and fuzzy about this opportunity? Or tense and anxious? What do those feelings tell you?
  • How can you get any lingering questions answered?
  • Are your head, heart, and gut aligned?

Deciding to accept or decline the job offer

If your choice raises feelings of dread or heaviness in your body, slow down and check in to make sure you’re making the right choice and the allure of a certain title or salary offer isn’t overcoming you. Ideally, we choose a company or role that makes us feel peaceful and in a state of flow. Of course, new work or promotion may bring nervousness or doubt, but we can balance that by acknowledging our excitement—making it ok to be scared-cited.

Quartz – Kelli Thompson