You’re faced with two job offers at the same time - so which one should you take? Maybe you have one offer and then another role comes up in your dream industry but it is only in the early stages. Should you take the sure thing or take a punt on the job that may not come through? Perhaps your previous employer offers you a role - should you take it or keep looking?

When it comes to your career you need to make some big decisions.  So how do you guide yourself through these decisions? My advice would be to follow your gut. This advice may sound a bit unscientific and “airy-fairy” but from my 12 plus years in recruitment observing other people’s decision making and from my own personal experience, the gut will more often than not put you on the right track.

Early on in my career, I wasn’t very good at listening to my gut. In fact, when faced with two graduate offers I really struggled to choose one. My natural tendency when I have a big decision to make is to analyse it, analyse it again and then analyse it some more. I discussed the two offers with my mum, my dad, my big brother, my boyfriend, family and friends - the list goes on. In the end, a decision had to be made.  In the absence of a coin in my pocket, I flipped my student ID card to bring an end to my agonising deliberation. Although things worked out fine, in the long run, this is not a method I would recommend.

As time has gone on I have tuned in more closely to my intuition. I have paid attention to niggling doubts or feelings of unease. Equally, I have listened when something has just felt right and seemingly fallen into place naturally. It has turned out that the decisions I have made relatively spontaneously and effortlessly have been some of my best decisions.

This wouldn’t be a surprise to Malcolm Gladwell, the author of ‘Blink.’ Blink discusses exactly this phenomenon about how we ‘think without thinking, about choices that seem to be made in an instant- in the blink of an eye- that actually aren’t as simple as they seem.’ It talks about how these instinctive /gut feelings we have do not come out of thin air but instead from a culmination of past experiences which have been considered subconsciously and then influence our choices.

So, what should you do when faced with a big decision when your gut instinct isn't coming through loud and clear?

 

After gathering all the information together if your decisions are still fuzzy, I would recommend doing the following:

 

1.  Take a break

Maybe sleep on it overnight, go for a run, catch up with a friend or just do anything to avoid thinking about it. Then revisit it fresh and notice your first thought on which way to go. From my experience, this works really well.

2. Consider walking away

If a candidate is having difficulty deciding I sometimes ask them to imagine themselves walking away from an offer. Does this bring up any feelings of regret or maybe relief?  It’s applying the ‘you don’t know what you’ve got until you lose it’ philosophy. This sounds simple but it can sometimes help direct you.

3. Focus on what YOU want

It is really important to make sure you are authentic about what is best for you and your priorities rather than doing what you think others expect you to do. For example, you may get offered a really glamorous sounding role which others think you would be crazy to turn down but in reality, you don’t really gel with the people you interviewed with. Is it really the right move for you?

Recently I was speaking with a candidate who I had a permanent offer for.  Late in the process, he also received an offer for a contract role in his dream industry.  He was contemplating which role to take. He deliberated for a couple of days then ultimately chose the contract role. It was clear to me all along that he really wanted to take the contract but he didn’t want to let me or my client down. He worked this out in the end. His gut had been telling him to go for the contract but he was focusing on the other people in the process more than himself.

4. Be aware of fear

It can be easy to confuse fear with gut instincts. You may be having uneasy feelings because you are afraid of failing or not meeting expectations. Remember that some of the biggest opportunities can come from stepping out of your comfort zone and stretching yourself. ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’ as they say or go ahead and take that leap of faith.

So next time you have to make a decision, make sure you pay attention to your gut. It can be a useful guide and it knows more than you think.

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