Best Practices for a Timely, Well-informed Career Decision

Arriving at a timely, well-informed job offer decision is a high-stakes endeavor. Yet, almost everyone struggles with it. The specific thought processes and skills necessary aren’t taught in high schools or universities. And, since changing jobs is not something that (hopefully) is a frequent occurrence in life…it’s not something people get much practice at or experience in. What follows are Simply Driven’s Best Practices for arriving at a timely, well-informed career decision.

execunetselect-arrows-upAccepting a Job Offer is a Process, Not an Event

This is the single biggest mistake people make. The prevailing attitude is, “I don’t have a decision to make unless/until I have an actual, written offer in front of me.” WRONG. That’s a horrible approach. Yet, almost EVERYONE thinks that way. And what happens to them? They find themselves feeling pressured and stressed-out because a company has made them an offer and they must now “all of a sudden” make a decision. This mindset is responsible for many poor career choices.

The final yes/no decision on accepting a job offer should be a natural outcome driven by a series of interim go/no go decisions made during the various stages of the interview process. It should be positive and exciting. Sure, there’s the apprehension that comes with change. But it’s good apprehension; not paralyzing fear. Deciding is not an event.

It’s a process. Process = timely, well-informed decision.

Always Assume an Offer is Coming

Rule #1 is always assume an offer is coming. Why? It causes your mind to work differently. You’ll ask better questions.  You’ll do better research. You won’t be casual. You won’t overlook details. You’ll be fully present and won’t have throwaway conversations. You’ll be focused every step of the way on making sure you’re covering all your bases and are gathering all the information that you need to make the right decision.

Follow Bucket Theory

Your job (career) impacts your life in three primary buckets: Personal, Professional and Financial. Therefore, we  believe in evaluating by constantly aligning and re-aligning the opportunity with the most important items in those three buckets.

Fill Your Buckets at the Beginning of the Process

Do yourself this huge favor. It’s much easier to identify the important personal, professional and financial items that belong in your buckets at the beginning vs. at the end. People aren’t emotional at the beginning of an interview process. You’re thinking clearly. Get grounded in what matters to you before the information, emotions and
opinions start coming at you.

Align, Decide. Realign, Decide. Repeat

Once you’ve filled your buckets, you can truly begin evaluating the opportunity. Interview processes have stages, like research, phone interview, coffee meeting, face-to-face interview(s), offer, negotiation, closing. Each of those stages requires evaluation and alignment with the items in your bucket. Focus on the stage right in front of you and align your buckets with the information you get from that stage. Don’t look back, and don’t look too far ahead. Be intentional. If something doesn’t align, then it may be time to pull out of the process. Or, it just may need definition or clarification. If everything aligns, move to the next stage.

Understand that until you complete the entire process, you’ll be gathering information. You can only align and realign relative to the stage you’re at. That’s ok. It allows you to focus on the current stage and then determine what you must get from the next stage… all with the absolute expectation that you will get a job offer.

Ignore the Financial Bucket…For Now

The reason for this is simple. If the job doesn’t align with what’s in your Personal and Professional Buckets, the financial alignment doesn’t matter. You’d be getting paid to do a job that doesn’t work for you. Granted, the salary range for the job must be reasonable and attractive…but beyond that, don’t get hung up on that now. It’s too early.

The easiest approach is to assume the financial component of the offer will be acceptable (benefits too). Again, it won’t matter unless the personal and professional align.

Most everyone has a person (or people) in their lives whose opinions matter greatly. Get their input during the process. Don’t wait until the end. Few things look worse than spending two weeks interviewing and getting an offer, only to decide the night before your acceptance deadline to run this by Uncle Harold. Uncle Harold doesn’t think it’s a good move, so you throw away everything that’s happened up to now and turn down the offer.

The Financial Bucket

As we near the end of the interview process, the big question that’s still out there is, “What is the financial component of the offer?” It’s now time to address it and get in front of that issue mentally. Of all the elements of evaluating and opportunity, money is the one that, by far, is most likely to be influenced (and sometimes hijacked) by emotions. Here’s how we address that…

The Best Practice is to have two different numbers (relative to salary). The first number is what I call the “want” number. This is the number at which you will accept the offer with no negotiation. You’re a happy camper; good to go.

The second number is the “walk away” number. That is the number at which we…wait for it…walk away. So, if the salary offer is $1 below your walk away, we agree that expectations are obviously not aligned and Simply Driven will inform that client that they should move forward with other candidates they are considering.

If the offer is in-between the want and walk-away, then we can accept, or we can counter with a higher number.

Can we counter an offer that is below the walk-away number? Certainly. However, an offer below walk-away is a red flag and raises lots of questions. It’s also an indicator that expectations have not been properly managed throughout the process. For example – the salary range communicated by the company in the beginning is above the offer amount. Or, the candidate adjusts the original expectation in their financial bucket.

How the Company Views What You Do With the Offer

While you’ve been following your process to evaluate an opportunity, the company has obviously been following theirs. Once the company chooses their preferred candidate, the dynamic is this: We’ve completed our process. It’s our expectation that you’ve completed yours. We’ve decided; now it’s your time to decide. We now come full circle.

This shouldn’t be a surprise, nor should it be particularly stressful. Yet, the most common reaction from candidates is to tense up and lobby for more time to decide. The issue isn’t more time. It isn’t more information. It isn’t more mental processing. It’s emotion.

Beware the Emotion

Emotions are always part of a career decision on some level. But emotions and feelings are often unreliable. Don’t make the mistake of letting last minute emotions override an intentional, thoughtful decision-making process – based on personal, professional and financial buckets you created when you weren’t emotional. Weeks and even months of
evaluation should not be cast aside for last minute emotions. Otherwise, you’re completely invalidating your own intellect and decision-making abilities. Delays and requests to “think about it” are red flags to a company, especially after an interview process that spans a couple of weeks or more. Successful people can assess facts, analyze information and then be decisive.


Changing jobs is a big decision. It demands an intentional approach. The vast majority of job candidates make this much harder on themselves that it needs to be. It’s not their fault. They don’t have a process. Now you do.

Stage Description Critical Factors/Actions
1 Simply Driven Scorecard Define Personal, Professional and Financial Buckets
2 Consider Potential Opportunity • Discussion w/Simply Driven• Online Research• Review Job Description• Calibrate Compensation Range• Align w/Personal and Professional Buckets• GO/NO-GO Decision
3 Interview Prep Prep video/discussion w/Simply Driven
4 Phone Interview/Coffee Meeting Gather information; present credentials
5 Interview Debrief • Align w/Personal and Professional Buckets• GO/NO-GO Decision• If GO, define additional info needed
6 Interview Prep Discussion w/Simply Driven
7 In-person Interview Gather information; present credentials
8 Interview Debrief • Align w/Personal and Professional Buckets• Define additional info needed• GO/NO-GO Decision• If GO, define additional info needed
9 Address Financial Bucket • Formulate Want and Walk-Away salary numbers• Review Benefits – insurance, retirement, vacation, etc.
10 Final Alignment of Buckets • Review and assess all criteria• Address there any final open questions
11 Pre-closing Discussion of Potential Offer Terms Reach verbal agreement on material offer terms:Salary, bonus, vacation, start date, etc.
12 Verbal offer Communicated via Simply Driven
13 Closing – Acceptance of Verbal Offer Triggers written offer letter/documentation
14 Written offer Review, sign and return
15 Resignation Resign and give notice to current employer


Simply Driven

Simply Driven

Founder and CEO Kent Burns leads Simply Driven Executive Search, which delivers talent in the areas of Automation, Robotics & Engineering, Finance/Accounting, Information Technology, Point of Sale Retail Technology, Human Resources and Workforce/Staffing Solutions. Simply Driven achieves client results that rival any search firm in the United States.

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