In a tight economy, you may think you’ve hit the jackpot if you receive even one job offer. But be prepared: if you possess the skills in high demand today, you may receive two or more. Headlines may scream about layoffs daily. The fact is that companies are still recruiting college graduates because they need your fresh talent to help their organizations grow.
Making It Happen
So what can you do to increase your chances of receiving multiple job offers? According to Vicki Spina, career strategist and author, besides high-demand technical skills, three attributes are key:
A Positive Attitude
"If you hate the interview process, it will come across," says Spina. "You have to find at least one thing about the job search/interview process that you like – such as meeting people or getting to know the companies – and celebrate it."
An Inquisitive Mind
Philip Jiminez landed a job at Inland Steel because he did his research and asked outstanding questions. He began the process at a job fair, where a recruiter at Inland’s booth told him there were no current job openings. Jiminez struck up a conversation with the recruiter anyway, asking questions but also sharing his knowledge of the company. She was so impressed with him that, one week later, she called Jiminez about a job that had just opened up. He interviewed and was offered the job of his dreams, one that would provide the international experience he was looking for – and at a salary that was $10,000 more than he expected.
Employers will like you better if you’re honest about yourself. In answer to the infamous interview question “What are your weaknesses?” -- be truthful (though it is a good idea to mention only one weakness). When you open up to the employer about yourself, it makes your entire conversation more believable and sincere. Keep in mind, though, that once you bring up a weakness, you should also tell the interviewer what steps you have taken to improve.
You’ve Hit the Jackpot: Now What?
Let’s say you receive two decent job offers. How do you decide which one is right for you? First, develop a "pros-and-cons" list for each job, says Spina. Make sure each list is all-inclusive. Think about the features of each position, such as salary, benefits, corporate culture, commuting time, flexible work arrangements, tuition reimbursement, and on-the-job learning opportunities.
Then, determine which of those features are really important to you. Are you planning to seek a higher degree? If so, educational assistance may be a key consideration. Does a long commute make you crazy? In that case, company location will be extremely important.
"Don't go for one offer just because it has better pay and benefits," says Spina. "Go for the one where you feel comfortable working in their environment. Money will not be enough a year from now if you hate the environment.
"If you are weighing the offers and they are pretty equal down the line, this is where your gut feeling really comes in to play. Look at your priorities and ask yourself what is truly important."
Never Burn Your Bridges
Once you’ve made your decision, you can relax. But don’t forget the company you didn’t choose. Keep in mind the importance of diplomacy when rejecting its offer, because in today's fast-paced work world, you never know when your work environment may shift or when your job may be eliminated. You never know when you may need to approach this other company again.
How do you diplomatically decline a job offer? Paul Siker, principal of the Guild Corporation in McLean, Va., suggests: "I really appreciate the offer, and although I feel another position I've been offered is a better fit for my goals, I really want to say how impressed I am with your company and how much I've enjoyed everyone I've had the opportunity to meet. Perhaps in the future, there will be something that's a better fit for both of us."