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by Alan J. McMillan | April 18, 2016


If you play close attention to the news, you might come to the conclusion that the economy has never been in worse shape for young people, and that you should end your job search whenever you get an offer, and jump at any chance to get your foot in the door. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the term "job search" is a little misleading; ideally, every search should result in multiple job offers. Your real challenge lies in figuring out which job to take, and why.

Choosing which job you accept is important because a new job, or a new role within a large organization, is a stepping-stone to the next step in your career. But making that choice can be a real challenge. 

If you achieve the goal of receiving multiple offers, you must choose strategically rather than emotionally. If you are trying to decide between multiple offers, don't just look at salary. To make the big decision easier, I suggest a useful tool I call "The Filter of Five." By establishing a clear, logical lens through which to view competing job offers, you can make a decision that will benefit your whole career. Nowadays it is common to change jobs every two to four years, so it's vital to think of individual jobs as career stepping-stones, rather than mountains.

So how do you decide which competing job offer to accept? Run them through The Filter of Five (prioritized in this order):

1. A Growing, If Not Exploding, Market 

A rising tide lifts all ships.  That is why you want to enter a company that is in a growing market.  If the market is growing, or better yet, booming, people who work in that market see their careers grow too, and that creates upward mobility and success for all.

2. An Environment Where You Can Learn

Some companies offer better training than others.  Key to your professional development is an organization that will train you in a world-class way.  It is important to choose a company where you can learn best practices, hone professional skills, and develop great habits.

3. Resume Panache

When you are associated with a prestigious brand or leading organization, it adds to your credentials. Why?  Because others in the market presume that if you got hired by and are working for a proven leader you must have strong skills.

4. A Navigable Platform

You want to be able to answer the question: "If I take this role and nail this assignment over the next two to four years, what other opportunities avail themselves to me?"


5. An Environment Where You Can Earn

Life costs money.  You not only have to pay the bills today, but also prepare for life’s emergencies and save for your golden years.  So pay definitely matters – make sure you are being offered a salary that fits the job, as well as your experience and ability. But money isn't everything. Notice that compensation falls behind attributes that will keep you highly employable over the course of your career.

There is no absolute rule or method to pick your next role, but running all of your options through the “Filter of Five” will force another perspective. When choosing your next career stepping-stone, step wisely, a lot is riding on that.

A version of this post previously appeared on


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