An Engineer’s Go-To Guide for Choosing Between Multiple Job Offers
Your first inclination may be to hate—OK, envy—that person with multiple job offers. But I can tell you that it’s not an uncommon situation for an engineer to face. Technical talent’s in high demand, and experienced candidates are often being pursued by multiple recruiters at any given time.
That said, weighing multiple opportunities or offers can be challenging, nerve-racking, and difficult. Many times one company will give you an offer while you’re still in the early stages with another, making it almost impossible to compare the two.
To make your decision a little easier, find out all you can about the following:
1. The Work
Is this job more of a management role or a hands-on engineering role? Will you be solving math problems or interfacing with clients?
A lot of companies will have you interview with multiple employees including your future peers, so be sure to ask them about their day-to-day to get an idea of what you’ll really be doing at the job.
2. The Title
Your job title can be an important piece in your career trajectory. If one job offers you the title of “Junior Engineer” and another the title of “Lead Engineer,” you should keep in mind that the second offer could open you up to higher paid opportunities with other employers down the road.
3. The Company
Your employer’s reputation will precede you. Let’s revisit the scenario above: Taking a role as a Junior Engineer at Google will look better to future employers than taking a Lead Engineer role with a company that has a reputation for releasing poorly built products.
It’s important to know what others in your field think of the company because it’s unlikely that you’ll be there forever—no matter how much you like it.
4. The Work Environment
You’re going to spend eight (or more) hours per day, five days a week in this place, so you better like the environment. If all you see during the interview is the lobby and the conference room, ask to come in and see the rest of the office and meet the team.
You can also call or email some former employees of the company so you have a good idea what the company culture is really like.
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5. The Boss
Two very similar jobs may have completely different bosses—which’ll translate to very different experiences. Since your direct manager will be the one evaluating your performance, offering feedback, and hopefully helping you move up in the organization, you want to be sure you get along with him or her.
6. The Money
While the money in engineering is usually pretty good, it never hurts to get offered a little more. What’s more, if Company A offers dramatically less money than Company B, it might be a warning sign that Company A doesn’t put as much value on engineering.
7. The Perks
Then again, maybe the company makes up for salary in more time off or other benefits. Money isn’t everything, and some employers show it by offering some really great non-monetary benefits. Perks like a 401K, health insurance, relocation reimbursement, continuing education, and free lunch add up, and should be considered part of the compensation package when comparing two or more competing offers.
Making a Decision You Feel Good About
Once you’ve weighed the pros and cons of two job offers, there still may not be a clear winner. So, consider the following options.
One strategy is to ask for more time. Employers want to rush you: They want to lock you into working for them (hopefully without negotiating). But remember, if a company makes you an offer, they’re interested and don’t want to lose you. Nine out of 10 times, they’ll give you more time when you ask for it, and you can reexamine the factors above.
Additionally, you can try to leverage both offers to get more money. If one place has a better work environment, but offers a lower salary, then use your other prospect to push for a higher salary.
Just keep this in mind: If you can’t make a decision, or get more time, be very cautious of accepting an offer and changing your mind. Sure, you can say “yes” and take it back (it’s up to you where you go each day). However, it’ll put a huge strain on your relationship with the employer and depending on how influential they are, your personal reputation—and future career prospects—may suffer.
Ultimately, having multiple job offers is a great sign that your career is on a good path, that your resume is in good order, and that you’ve done something right in your interviews, so enjoy it. Approach the problem analytically, and above all, be gracious to employers who offer you a job, even if you turn them down.
About The Author
Karl is the Chief Technology Officer at The Graide Network, and has several years of experience in management at education technology startups. He's worked with companies from the MVP, pre-revenue stage to the multi-million user mark, and enjoys writing prose as well as code.