University Recruiting Manager at General Mills
Having multiple job offers is a great position for a candidate to be in, but it can also be stressful. Ultimately, you are only able to accept and fill one position, so it is important to consider all of your options and make the best decision possible with the information you have.
The first step in making your decision is to consider all of the components to each opportunity and weigh the importance of each one. While evaluating base salary, title and location may be the easiest to compare across all offers, those factors may not be the most important factors in your decision making process. What you consider important is a personal decision and one that you should spend time thinking about. What do you want to get out of a position at this phase of your career? What other factors come to mind as important? For example, what type of culture will be most fulfilling for you to work in? How important is upward mobility, and how quickly? Are there any personal considerations (location, etc.)? Weigh these factors based on their level of importance to you. This will allow you to be able to evaluate which opportunities to target and to rank any incoming offers so that you have a good idea of your top choice(s).
When declining a job offer, it is best to do this over the phone whenever possible since that is more personal. While sending an email may be more convenient, it is not the best communication method to use if you want to maintain a relationship with that company or recruiter. Maintaining a positive connection with any company you recruit with can be useful when being considered for future openings.
The timing of when to share your decision with the company may be difficult, especially when you are in the thick of recruiting with multiple companies. It is best to respond to an offer as soon as you have made up your mind, as you do not need to wait until your decision deadline. This is where it is critical to do the upfront work of identifying your critical decision factors and ranking your opportunities. Understanding how you feel about a particular company or offer will help you to feel more confident in making decisions more quickly with less doubt. Do not hang onto offers which you do not intend to accept. It is both respectful to the company but will also reduce your stress to decline offers once you have made up your mind. To this end, one additional piece of very important advice: do NOT accept an offer and then continue to consider other offers. This can be tempting if you have an offer in hand but prefer to work elsewhere – but reneging on an offer you have already accepted, in order to accept another later, reflects very poorly on you and your university. It will likely eliminate your possibilities of future consideration with the company if you want to move back later in your career.
At times, it will not be possible to adhere to the decision deadline provided by the company. Most commonly this occurs when you have an offer outstanding but have not yet been able to complete the recruiting process with another company. The best thing to do in this situation is to be transparent in your communications with the companies involved. For the company where you have an offer outstanding, speak with the recruiter to ask for a decision deadline extension. Be clear on the timing you anticipate needing and be truthful about the reason you are asking for the extension. Each company will have their own philosophy on what they may accommodate. For the company that you want to continue recruiting with, contact the recruiter and let them know that you have an outstanding offer with a deadline. Again, each company will have their own philosophy on how to handle the situation. The goal is to arm each company with the appropriate information necessary to make a decision. In an ideal world, you would have enough flexibility to continue recruiting before you need to finalize your decision. However, if you do not get enough flexibility you will need to make a decision without all of the information. This is where it is helpful to have already thought through your company rankings, preferences and likelihood to get an offer which will help you evaluate the best plan of action. Ultimately, no one can tell you what to do as a blanket rule, but staying true to what you find to be most critical about each potential opportunity will help you make the best decision for you.