Accept the offer or keep looking? A seven-question shortcut analysis.

It’s a common decision that a number of my clients face. They have an offer, which is comforting, but they have some concerns. At the same time, they are nervous about the uncertainty of where a continued search may lead. So what do you do? Accept the offer or keep looking?

Accept or keep looking

Again, it’s the uncertainty that makes the decision difficult. But here are a handful of questions you can ask yourself to clarify your thinking.

Sure, each choice (accept, keep looking) carries the possibility of good and bad. But how good and how bad? Think through four possible outcomes, in 2×2 matrix form for my fellow former consultants:

accept or keep looking 2x2

1) What would have to happen to make you feel like accepting the offer was a great decision?

2) What would have to happen to make you feel like you wish you hadn’t accepted the offer?

3) What would have to happen to make you feel like declining the offer was a great decision?

4) What would have to happen to make you feel like you wish you had accepted the offer?

3 more questions

After you’ve done that, for each branch of the decision tree (accept, keep looking), consider:

5) What will you do if things play out such that you wish you hadn’t made the decision you made? (i.e. What is the next decision you will face?)

6) Is that “regret the decision” scenario one you can live with if need be?

7) Is the possibility of the “great decision” scenario worth the risk of the “regret the decision” scenario?

This simple analysis is surprisingly effective. After thinking through the questions above, one of my clients found that she couldn’t actually think of an instance where she’d wish she hadn’t accepted the offer. She also found that she wasn’t really willing to live with a reality in which the scenario in #4 played out.

Another client thought through this process and found that if he accepted the offer he had on the table, he might burn bridges at his current organization. For him, that was a reality that was not worth the potential benefits of the offer he had.

Are you facing this type of decision in the future? Try this out for yourself and let me know how it goes.

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