Imagine this: after multiple rounds of interviews, thank you notes, reference calls, and background checks, you’ve been offered an amazing opportunity– or better yet, two opportunities. You’ve finally reached the finish line and can breathe a sigh of relief, right? Actually, the hard part is just beginning. Many of the candidates I work with are so focused on proving that they are right for the role that they forget to evaluate whether the role is really right for them.

I’ve been an executive recruiter for Lucas Group for almost 25 years, and I truly enjoy guiding my candidates through some of the most important decisions of their lives. When helping candidates choose among job offers, here are some of the things I’ve found are most important to consider.

What are the top three things that are most important to you about a job?

At the beginning of every job search, I recommend candidates take a moment and write down the three things that are most important to them in a new opportunity. Are you genuinely someone who wants to be in the C-suite, or is work-life balance more important to you? Do you value stability, or are you ready to take on more risk and share in more of the upside? Do you want to surround yourself with competitive players, or do you want to work in a collaborative and nurturing environment? Be honest with yourself about what truly matters most. The only “right” answer is the one that aligns with your needs– not what society or your peers say you should do.

Once your priorities are clear, it is much easier to evaluate different opportunities. Perks that look good on paper but aren’t mission critical, for example, won’t be a distraction. You’re also unlikely to negotiate over a few thousand dollars if you know what really matters are more flexible work hours or work-from-home options.

Who can you turn to for honest advice?

You’ll naturally have a lot of questions during your job search, and it’s important that you choose the right people to ask for help and advice. Your first instinct might be to consult your mentors, people who are more senior whom you respect and admire. But you also need to make sure you talk to people who really know you well and with whom you can speak candidly. Are you going to be able to admit to your old boss that you’re looking to make a change because you don’t want to work 80 hours a week anymore?

This is where it really helps to work with an experienced recruiter. It’s in a good recruiter’s best interest to find a role that’s a great fit for you where you’ll be happy in the long-term. I’ve followed some candidates throughout their entire careers, from staff accountants to CFOs. I understand their motivations, development goals, and priorities very well at this point. They also don’t need to “prove” anything to me or justify a career pivot. This puts me in a unique position to give them advice not just on their next role, but also on their overall career trajectory.

Will this job help you become who you want to be in five years?

The biggest mistake I see candidates make is running away from a bad situation instead of running towards a good situation. Don’t just say yes to a quick fix. When evaluating an offer, think about where it will take you in a year, and in five years. Will the role help you achieve your goals and ambitions down the line?

Recently, I helped a candidate evaluate two different offers for positions here in Denver. Offer A was a more senior title with higher pay, but not ideal long term prospects. Offer B was for a more lateral role; however, it offered the opportunity for advancement at a more successful company and would lead to far greater responsibility and compensation down the road. The candidate found it very difficult to turn down the more senior title. But together we looked at what he wanted to accomplish in five years and concluded that Offer B was the right fit for the long run. He accepted the role, and he’s now confident that it was the right decision.

We spend more time at work than we do almost anywhere else, so if you aren’t happy on a day-to-day basis, it doesn’t matter how good the job looks on paper.

Have you had experience choosing among multiple job offers? I invite you to share in a comment below.

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