Choosing between two job offers can be difficult, especially if one company is more prestigious than the other.
Working for an established company may seem exciting, but the job itself may not always be fulfilling. Ideally, we’d all find jobs that are both lucrative and fulfilling — but in reality, that’s not always the case.
How you ultimately decide depends on your personal and professional goals and professional prestige often becomes less of a draw in the later stages of a career. But looking to people who have done it before can help you make the right decision for you.
Deciding between two job offers
Ruby Chandy, president of Lumina Advisory Services, who consults and advises private equity and venture firms, dealt with this dilemma when deciding between two different board positions. Chandy spoke on a panel at MIT Sloan’s Global Women’s Conference in October and said that two companies offered her board positions within several months.
She said one company was more established and well known, but the other had a younger CEO who was energetic and needed her specific skills on his board. “He was looking for a commercial, go-to-market experience and I felt that I could bring value in a way,” she said. As a former president of the industrial division and a corporate officer of Pall Corporation, Chandy was responsible for a $1.3 billion division and 5,000 employees.
Ultimately, Chandy chose the latter opportunity for the experience it would give her.
During the panel, Chandy said it’s important for both a company and an individual to come up with a skills analysis before deciding on an opportunity. From the organization’s perspective, “It forces a company to understand what they don’t have and need,” she said.
Her experience resonates at many career stages, whether you’re deciding to become an executive or manager, considering a mid-career change, or starting your own business. Oftentimes, you’re faced with a trade-off no matter what job you choose. You may have to sacrifice the ideal salary for more creative freedom. Or you may have to put off major life events like buying a home or starting a family to focus on a demanding job.
Two key questions can help you make a choice.
What’s the trade-off in each opportunity?
When it came to the decisions these women made, they found it difficult not to compromise in one area of their lives, like chasing their passion or being financially independent.
Early in their own careers, Schank and Wallace chose writing opportunities that weren’t their dream jobs, but paid the bills. In their book, they wrote, “We prioritized money and stability and figured the passion part would work itself out. And, as we write these words, it has.”
Are you willing to take risks?
For others, pursuing a job that fulfills their passion may be worth the risk of financial instability. Consider Elaine Welteroth, who is a journalist and judge on Bravo’s “Project Runway.” She climbed her way to the top of the magazine publishing industry, and at 29 became the youngest editor-in-chief in Condé Nast history at the time.
While she led Teen Vogue, it was a print magazine with a digital site. But in 2017, Condé Nast closed the print version and made the publication digital-only — leaving Welteroth the decision to stay on in a new role or leave the company entirely.
In her memoir, “More Than Enough,” she writes that she was proud of her moment at Condé Nast, but “felt called to do more — outside of those walls, beyond just this one media brand.” She ended up leaving the company to pursue her own path, which included writing her book and working on the Freeform series “Grown-ish.”
Welteroth notes in her book that it takes courage to step away from a dream job and into the unknown. She writes: “Only you can choose to walk away from what no longer serves you, to leave what you’ve already conquered, and to step boldly into what’s next.”