Dear Mentor:

How do I decide between job offers?

I am confronted with what you might call a good problem. I just finished my undergraduate [Bachelors] degree. Fortunately, I have 4 job offers, of which I must choose one. While I can reject two of them more readily, I am having a difficult time in deciding between the other two. When I talk to friends and family about it, I get conflicting advice. All this makes me even more confused. I must make my decision soon. Can you please suggest how I should go about making this very important decision?

Shawn, Los Angeles, California, USA

Dear Shawn:

First of all, our congratulations to you for having been able to create such a good problem. We do however recognize that you must make the decision, and make it carefully.

In our view, the decision one makes regarding career, and perhaps for other things in life, should take the view of enhancing life over a long period of time. This simply means that one may choose to make sacrifices and work hard in the short run for a greater return over the long run.

Your struggle indicates that your thinking is consistent with ours. For if you cared only for financial returns now, it would have been easy -- compare the numbers and choose the highest paying job. But the highest paying job now may not bring the highest benefit to you over a longer period of time.

So let's be more specific about how one can make a decision of this nature. Step one is to create the set of criteria outlining what is important and relevant to you. Second, evaluate each of your job offers against the criteria. Third, make the selection. Sounds easy? It is not. It is not easy to make an objective assessment. Also, not all of us feel comfortable assessing our choices when the assessment is of the qualitative nature (such as geographic location), and not of the quantitative (such as salary). Most of all, one is tempted to change the criteria when the answer does not match our desired outcome. In any case, this is a good exercise and would help you make your decision in a more informed manner.

Your assessment criteria may include such items as: financial compensation (including salary, bonus, benefits, etc.), geographic location (including cost of living, life and lifestyle, etc.), potential for personal growth and career development, scope and responsibilities of the job, fit of the job content with your own interests, your comfort with the people/colleagues at the prospective employer, etc. These are just suggestions to help you get started.

As you well know, regardless of what we say or what others say, the decision is yours and you should make it carefully.

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