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Career Advice : Tackling Job Offer Dilemmas

Tackling Job Offer Dilemmas

Robert Half International

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You've been on several job interviews, but the phone's been silent. Suddenly, the employer at the top of your list calls and offers you a position. The only problem is the pay isn't nearly what you expected.

In a situation like this, where a decision isn't clear-cut, you need to think critically before accepting or rejecting an employment offer. Following are examples of some tough job offer dilemmas and suggestions for determining the best course of action:

You're offered a dream job ... but the pay is low

What if you are offered a job you've always wanted, only to find out that accepting the position means a pay cut?

This can be an especially difficult choice in an uncertain economy, depending on how much your salary will drop. Because future salary levels are often based on past compensation, a drop in pay can have long-term consequences. Of course, a smaller paycheck shouldn't automatically dissuade you from taking a job you really want. You may even be able to offset the effect by negotiating a sooner-than-usual salary review or more benefits such as additional vacation time. Other factors, including workplace culture and advancement opportunities, can also make a lower-paying job more rewarding.

You're offered a dream job ... but there's a lengthy commute

You're up for a transfer to a position in another office that interests you. The only problem is it would require you to commute an hour-and-a-half each way.

In this scenario, your first concern might be the cost of commuting, especially given the current record-high price of gasoline. Your employer may be able to help in this regard, however. According to a recent Robert Half survey, 17 percent of companies offer ridesharing or vanpooling and 11 percent provide telecommuting options to offset the rising cost of commuting.

In addition, don't forget to evaluate the time you'll be sacrificing. If you are a new parent, for instance, you likely won't want to spend three hours a day in the car.

You're offered a dream job ... but it's halfway across the country

You're on the job hunt and have been offered a dream position on the other side of the country. Do you stay or do you go?

You'll need to consider the change in cost-of-living and how much it will affect your quality of life. Would you be happy in the new location? Visiting ahead of time can help you get a feel for the community and decide if you'll enjoy it. Also ask the firm about steps it plans to take to help you acclimate to the area, such as providing assistance with your house hunt.

Another factor to consider is what you would do if you move to another city or state and the position doesn't work out. Will you be able to find another job? It helps to research the local economy, especially as it relates to your particular industry, to determine the likelihood of locating a similar position should you need to look for work.

You're offered a dream job ... but it's with a struggling startup

You've been with a large, established company for a few years, but you've been offered an exciting position with a new company that is just starting to get off the ground. Do you leave the security of your current job for the excitement of the unknown?

Your personality becomes an important factor in this decision. Do you see yourself as a risk taker, or are you more comfortable with stability? If you've been with your company for a while, you've probably become accustomed to a particular workplace culture and a new environment could be jarring. Also, consider the possibility that a less-established firm could struggle in an uncertain economy. Find out more about the new organization and its future prospects by conducting some Internet research and speaking with people in your professional network. At the same time, don't overlook the reasons a smaller company might appeal to you, such as offering you more responsibility and greater autonomy, as well as the potential for quick advancement.

You're offered a dream job ... then another

You're on the job hunt and your qualifications have drawn interest from several employers. In fact, on the same day, two firms extend an employment offer.

While flattering, receiving multiple offers can make for a difficult decision. Ask the companies for some time to consider your next move. Also let each hiring manager know you are evaluating an offer from another employer; this could be a good negotiation tactic. If you are having a hard time choosing, put together a list of pros and cons. One factor you don't want to overlook is workplace culture. While this element may be hard to quantify, it's an important consideration, and your definition of a good work environment should match what a prospective employer offers. In addition, don't hesitate to contact the hiring managers with questions. How each person responds to your concerns could tell you a lot about the organizations.

In most cases, determining whether to accept or decline a job offer is fairly straightforward. But when the decision is so difficult you feel as if you're taking the SAT, the key is to collect as much information as you can. By asking yourself and the employer the right questions, as well as conducting additional research, you can be confident in the choice you make.

Robert Half International is the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 360 offices worldwide. For more information about our professional services, please visit 

Last Updated: 30/07/2008 - 4:13 PM

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