As a career coach, I’m often asked to help job seekers evaluate more than one job offer that they’ve received within a short time period. Such a phenomenon is happening more often than logic would bear: a job seeker searches for months and months without luck, and then all of a sudden, two or even three job offers come in almost simultaneously.
In today’s inflationary job market, too many qualified applicants are chasing too few openings. Employers know that, and as a result, some of them treat applicants unfairly and unethically. I’ve seen it go to such extremes that job seekers get truly abused and suffer embarrassment and humiliation. But those who find themselves in such circumstances keep good memories of such abuse and sometimes take revenge . . .
I’m currently working with a client who had earlier been in a protracted transition. Because he was older than 50, he experienced age discrimination when competing against younger candidates. After several months of fruitless attempts at job search, he received a few invitations for initial phone- and video-screening interviews that indeed culminated in a series of in-person interviews. Some of interviews were one-on-one and others were panel interviews. The offer of one of the positions had come from an outside recruiter, and the application and interview process was lengthy, cumbersome, arduous, and often impersonal. During several weeks of assiduous preparation and emotionally tense anticipation, the fellow happened to receive several more opportunities to interview with other companies.
The first company—after investing a significant amount of management time and actual money to reimburse the candidate for travel expenses—extended him an offer. The offer was fair but not generous despite the fact that the company knew that in his previous positions, he’d had a better compensation package. My client accepted the offer and felt very content to be reemployed. Paychecks kept coming, the work was interesting, his colleagues seemed friendly, and he received extensive training because the job was technical. In fact, he was sent out of state for a week of training. Such was the situation for about eight weeks.
One morning a recruiter called him. It was the same recruiter who’d sent him to other interviews and was at last ready to make my client an offer. The offer consisted of a marginally improved compensation package, and the commute would be slightly shorter. That’s when I received a call from my frustrated client: he needed an outsider to help him decide what to do.
For such situations, which are more common than we might think, I developed a detailed work sheet I have my clients fill out. It’s a half-hour exercise in which they write down the advantages and disadvantages of two or more competing job offers. The specific requirements are that the first time around, they compare the positions based only on sheer facts and logic, and the second time around, they do the same but drop the logic and think only about emotional aspects—namely, gut feelings. Once the entire exercise is completed, the right answer is easy because everything’s been laid out.
When my client did that exercise to evaluate both job offers from the emotional perspective, all of the bitterness he’d accumulated against the first company that had put him through hell before offering him the job surfaced loud and clear. At that point, he told me, the decision was easy: he resigned and took the second offer. To some extent, he said, it was out of vengeance. And that I can understand.