With unemployment near record lows and companies scrambling for talent, people who have never been in high demand in the workplace may find themselves with multiple job offers. Being showered with offer letters has long been par for the course when it comes to top tech execs, sales leaders, and star athletes, but now average workers may find themselves being recruited by more than one potential employer at a time.
If it happens to you, it can be very exciting. But with that excitement comes a stark reality: You have to pick between two offers -- and when those offers are similar, making a choice can be terribly difficult.
How to weigh your job offers
If you have multiple offers, first compare them to make sure that what seems equal is actually equal. Do they offer similar salaries? What about health insurance and retirement benefits? Are the vacation and sick policies equal? Do both companies offer flexibility about where you work? How do they compare in terms of room for advancement and how do each align with your greater career goals?
It's rare for everything to come out totally equal, but it's quite possible for total compensation to fall in the same ballpark range because companies are aware of their market and what their peers are offering for the same position. When that happens -- but one has better vacation policies, while the other offers better retirement plans -- you have to relect on your priorities.
It's not just money
If you honestly like both offers equally, then you can leverage your offer from one to negotiate with the other. Go to your contact at your preferred company and ask for more of something you really want: money, time off, flexibility, career development -- whatever is important to you. Should the company give you what you want, accept it, or try to get an even better offer from the second company (though that could create ill will with the first).
Typically, even when offers seem equal, they really aren't. Does one company have a better culture than the other? Look at how long people stay and do research on Glassdoor. Check out LinkedIn to find the career trajectories of people who previously held the position you're being offered there. Maybe you just feel better about one of the two companies. Perhaps you prefer the people and feel more at home.
Those are all valid reasons to accept one offer over the other. Consider not just your career or compensation, but also which job will be healthier, more sustainable over the long-term and will offer you the most joy and satisfaction.
Never burn bridges, never look back
Once you make your decision, accept the job from the company lucky enough to win your services. And once you're sure that everything will work out, graciously inform the company that you decided not to work for. Be thankful and tell them you decided to go in a different direction, and express a hope to work together in the future.
Perhaps most importantly -- and this is very hard to do -- once you make a choice, embrace it. Don't wonder "what if" every time something minor goes wrong at the place you chose. Accept that you did the right thing, and work hard to make it succeed for you and your new employer.