5 Ways to Sort Out Job Offers

Thanks to the worker shortage, companies are handing out offers left and right. Sorting out which one to pick requires candidates to answer some key questions. 

Employers big and small are lamenting the worker shortage, and it’s true. There are 8.1 million open jobs in the United States, a record. But that’s pretty good news from a job candidate’s perspective, as there are potentially more offers to choose from. Indeed, these days, depending on the role, candidates can apply for one job, set up an interview for five days later, and get one or two competing job offers before the interview.

If this scenario had happened a few years ago, choosing between those multiple job offers would have been a straightforward decision: most people would take the one that offered the most money or best benefits. But priorities started changing in the mid-2010s, when younger employees started to prioritize corporate culture over pay. The pandemic has given tens of millions more people time to ruminate on what they really want. “The absence of routine has forced people to reflect on what motivates them,” says Nathan Blain, a Korn Ferry senior client partner and the firm’s global lead for optimizing people costs. “Salary wasn’t important before the pandemic, and it’s even less important now.”

Before the offers start rolling in, identify what criteria would make a job an ideal fit, says Deborah Brown, a managing principal at Korn Ferry. “In the moment, it’s easy for there to be something in the offer intentionally designed to entice you to take it.”

Getting the answers to these five questions will help candidates weigh competing job opportunities.

Can you work from where you want?

Prior to last year, most people didn’t think about where and how they wanted to work. How things have changed over the last 14 months. In a recent survey of LinkedIn users, 50% said flexibility of hours or location has become more important to them, a trend that held firm regardless of the respondent’s age or experience level. “There is a real emphasis on being able to choose between working remotely, working in an office, or working from multiple locations, Blain says. Evaluate whether a particular job opportunity will allow you to work from your preferred location. Importantly, if you prefer full-time remote work, make sure the job is set up to allow you to succeed working from home. Not every position is conducive to remote work, nor is every boss adept at managing people remotely.

Will the work be meaningful?

The pandemic heightened most people’s sense of purpose and desire to feel involved. Finding work that is not only interesting but also aligns with your personal value proposition has become a must-have for millions of people. “Take steps to understand how the company views its purpose and values, and how they align with yours,” says Mark Royal, senior director for Korn Ferry Advisory.

Is there a cultural fit?

One of biggest factors for employee success is the cultural fit between the employee and the organization. Sometimes this can be tricky to determine, especially if a candidate never got to visit a company’s workplace. Still, candidates can go to their contacts at the potential employer—even after the firm extends a job offer—and ask some pointed questions, such as “What does good performance look like,” “What are the unwritten rules employees should be aware of,” and “Is an entrepreneurial mindset rewarded in this office?” Getting the answers to those will go along way toward determining whether the organization is a fit for you, Royal says.

Do you feel a connection with your manager?

Not to get too far ahead of things, but the primary reason people leave their existing job is because of their boss. The pandemic showed the value of good managers who are accessible, engaged, and supportive. Candidates can ask to speak with their potential direct manager before accepting the job. “Your manager’s communication style and ability to show support will be essential, especially if you’re working from home full-time,” Royal says.

Does the job fit into your long-term career trajectory?

Think beyond the immediate role you’re being hired for, and determine whether this position will allow you to develop new skills and prepare for the next step in your career. An organized company should be able to lay out what the next roles would be, assuming you are successful in the role you’re being hired for. “Ask yourself if this role is going to be helpful in preparing you to develop additional skills and connections,” Royal says.