The latest jobs report and other data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that U.S. employers are still hiring — and still having difficulty staffing open positions. Highly skilled professionals on the job hunt are in the driver’s seat. But many in-demand candidates face a tricky “problem”: how to weigh multiple job offers. Here are my tips for making the right decision, along with a look at the most recent jobs report.
First, let’s look at the current employment market. U.S. job gains were stronger than expected in July, building on a robust report in June. Employers added 255,000 positions last month, according to the BLS.
The following industries were among those leading job growth in July:
- Professional and business services added 70,000 positions in July, the largest monthly gain since October. Over the past 12 months, this industry has added 550,000 jobs.
- Employers in the healthcare industry continue to hire at a brisk pace, adding 43,000 jobs.
- Employment in financial activities rose by 18,000 in July, bringing its 12-month total to 162,000 jobs.
The BLS revised the number of jobs created in May and June, indicating that 18,000 more jobs were added to U.S. payrolls than previously reported.
U.S. employers have added more than 1.3 million jobs so far this year, averaging 186,000 jobs per month.
Good candidates are hard to find
According to the July jobs report, the national unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.9 percent. The rate has been at or below 5.0 percent since October.
The unemployment rate for workers who are 25 or older and have a college degree held steady at 2.5 percent in July. It reached an eight-year low of 2.4 percent in April and May.
These figures help to underscore the challenge that many employers face when trying to staff open positions. There just aren’t enough skilled candidates active in the job market right now. The most recent Job Openings and Labor Turnover report from the BLS notes that 5.5 million jobs sat open in May.
Multiple job offers aren’t uncommon
Job seekers with desirable skills are quick to surface on a hiring manager’s radar, and it’s not unusual for them to be targeted by more than one employer. Robert Half staffing and recruiting experts have seen a definite uptick in the number of candidates weighing multiple job offers
If you find yourself in this enviable position, what do you do? Here are three tips I think can help you choose the right one:
Tip #1: Remember your primary goals
Why are you looking for a new position? Even if circumstances beyond your control, such as a layoff due to a merger or acquisition, helped set you on your current path, stop to consider what you specifically hope to achieve through your employment search — other than getting a new job, of course. For example, are you looking for the following:
- A higher salary?
- More professional development opportunities?
- Better benefits?
- The ability to work remotely?
- The opportunity to work for a particular type of company or in a particular industry?
- All of the above?
Keep these initial goals in mind when reviewing multiple job offers and use them as a checklist to guide your decision making.
When you’re under pressure to choose an employer, the details of the various employment packages you’re weighing can tend to blur together and make each offer seem roughly similar in overall attractiveness. Referring back to factors you previously identified as most important can help you better rank the offers.
Tip #2: Step back and take a long-term view
As you work to decide which of the multiple job offers you received most closely matches your primary objectives, don’t be blinded by an immediate payoff. Think about the future and which job will benefit your career most over the long run.
Here’s what I mean: If your main goal in securing a new job is to earn a higher salary, your initial inclination could be to choose Offer A, which pays the most. Simple enough, right? But say that Offer B, which has a lower salary, presents greater opportunity to move up within the organization. Even though Offer A pays more now, you could eventually make more money by choosing Offer B if you rise through the ranks as expected.
It’s not always clear which among the multiple job offers you receive provides the best long-term benefit. After all, trying to predict the future isn’t easy. But be sure your vision of the years ahead plays some role in your decision.
Tip #3: Consider which company culture is right for you
If you don’t like your work environment, no amount of salary, benefits or perks is likely to keep you happy, especially over time. So, when evaluating multiple job offers, identify the employer you think will provide the most appealing corporate culture and factor that strongly into your decision.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Were you able to establish rapport with the hiring manager? Could you see yourself working for him or her each day?
- What was the energy in the office like? Does it match your preferred work style?
- Did the workers you interacted with or passed in the hallway seem happy and engaged?
- Do you know anyone who has worked for the firm, and, if so, what feedback does your contact have?
If work-life balance is important to you, ask hiring managers about programs and policies designed to help workers find that balance. If you’re hoping to find a very social work environment, look into how the company encourages employees to relax and have fun together.
Your negotiation power
It’s your decision whether to let potential employers know that you have multiple job offers. Keep in mind, though, that being up front about this can be a powerful negotiation tool.
For instance, maybe you’re close to saying yes to a company, but that firm is offering less vacation time than another company. You could ask your preferred employer if they’d be willing to match the competing offer.
Having multiple job offers could also prove beneficial if an employer has expressed serious interest in hiring you — by inviting you back for several rounds of interviews, for example — but has yet to extend an offer. Mentioning that you have other offers in hand could compel the firm to speed things up.
But be careful. It’s easy to overplay your hand. Only you know how much room you have to negotiate and how comfortable you are doing so.
Be thoughtful but swift with your decision
The most important part about weighing multiple job offers is ensuring that you give yourself time to thoughtfully think through your choices. You don’t want to drag your feet so that you leave an employer hanging — and, perhaps, lose out on a great opportunity. But it’s not unreasonable to request a few days to contemplate your choice.
When you arrive at your decision, be gracious to the employers whose job offers you decline and politely explain why the offer did not meet your needs. You never know when you might be searching for a job and cross paths with these individuals again.
Paul McDonald is senior executive director at Robert Half. He writes and speaks frequently on hiring, workplace and career management topics. Over the course of more than 30 years in the recruiting field, McDonald has advised thousands of company leaders and job seekers on how to hire and get hired.
McDonald joined Robert Half in 1984 as a recruiter for financial and accounting professionals in Boston, following a public accounting career with Price Waterhouse. In the 1990s, he became president of the Western United States overseeing all of the company’s operations in the region. McDonald become senior executive director of Robert Half Management Resources in 2000, and assumed his current role in 2012. He earned a bachelor's degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting from St. Bonaventure University in New York.