Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

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How to handle two job offers at once

 If you've been looking to make a change, or just find a new job, there will be more responses as the job picture is improving. So how do you behave? Do you rush off to a new job as soon as it's offered? Do you consider all the possibilities to see if they are all improvements? How do you make a graceful exit if you do decide to move?

Rob Byron, principal in Winter, Wyman's New England Information Technology Permanent division, has the following suggestions to help your decision, and your departure:

Search within yourself-The first step with any job search is self-reflection. What is important to you at work?  Why do you want to leave your current job?  Do you want a more flexible schedule, a shorter commute, more opportunities for growth or a higher salary?  Make a list of your "must-haves," your "like-to-haves," and your "not-important-to-me" criteria.  This soul-searching is a crucial first step in the process. Without knowing what you want, how are you going to get it?

Talk to your current company first-Maybe the things you are looking for are available in your current job or with your current employer.  Can you get what you want without moving?  Why invest time and energy in a job search only to find out that your manager could have accommodated your request?  Whether it's working from home one day a week, changing your in-office hours to avoid traffic or altering the scope of your work - if you don't ask, you don't get.  But, tread with care.  Be sure not to make threats or give ultimatums.  You don't know where your job search will take you and you want to keep the job you have-at least for now!

Be honest-Most candidates like to keep things close to the vest when interviewing at multiple jobs.  You may feel uncomfortable about letting the hiring manager at one company know about your other interviews.  When possible, however, it makes sense to keep the lines of communication open throughout the job search. If you share your intentions, hiring managers may be able to speed up the process or give you more time.  For example, you could tell the hiring manager, "I am very interested in this position, but I do have other things in play."  It is in everyone's best interest that you explore all of your options to ensure that you accept the job because it is the best fit, not just because it was the first one offered.

Consider timing (yours and theirs)- If you are one of those fortunate enough to be in a multiple offer situation, timing can be tricky.  If the offers come within days of each other, it's ok to ask hiring managers to give you a few days to make a decision.  If there is more than a week's span between final interviews, you may need to make a decision about where you want to be.  Of course, you can let a hiring manager know that you won't have an answer for a week, but do them the courtesy of sharing where you stand so they can decide whether to wait for you or offer the job to another candidate.

Beware the counter-offer-If you are an in-demand candidate fielding multiple job offers, you most likely will also get a counter-offer from your current employer.  Most counter-offers are given in desperation.  Accepting a counter-offer can disturb the equilibrium of the relationship with your manager.  They know you wanted to leave, and that doesn't always make for a harmonious working environment going forward.  Hopefully, you've already approached your manager with your job "wish list" to see if your employer could accommodate your request.  If they couldn't, they shouldn't be surprised to see you go.

Lead with logic-The job search process can be emotional; starting a new job is a major life change. Put together a list of pros and cons - how does each opportunity rate? If using a recruiter, ask him or her to play devil's advocate about each job. Talk to your spouse or a trusted advisor to get others' opinions.  Make sure that you are making a sound decision about your next position based on reason, not emotion.
By following these tips, you can find the right job while keeping your career and reputation intact.
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