You’ve been waiting to hear back from several different employers. And of course, the first offer you get is from the one you were least excited about. So, what do you do when you’re expecting an offer from Company Dream Job but, in the meantime, you get a call from Company Pretty Good asking you when you can start? The decision to take the first job offer can be nerve wracking. But here are a few questions you should ask yourself that should help you choose wisely. 

How much better are the other jobs?

There must be a reason you applied for each job. If the organization had nothing to offer you, you would never have wasted your time. So, you have to ask yourself if the qualities that make your other choices seem better are really that significant.

If the reason you were not super excited about an offer from this company is minor, taking the job might be a wise idea. No organization is perfect after all, and you know the old saying about a bird in the hand.  However, if the downsides are major, holding out for a better offer could be your wisest move.

How long can I hold out before I start burning bridges?

You’re going to have to give a definitive answer eventually—but not necessarily immediately. Usually, you can hold off the bird in the hand for a short period of time while you’re waiting for the one in the bush to come through. As long as you’re upfront, but in a considerate and appreciative way, needing a little more time to make the decision shouldn’t be a problem. But if you treat those extending the offer like a backup plan, they’re likely to cut ties and go for their own backup plan, i.e. the candidate you barely beat out for the job.  In the end, if you want to buy some time without the offer falling through, choose your words carefully, be enthusiastically grateful, and above all, be professional.  

How realistic is it that I will be offered one of my top choices?

If you applied for a few dream jobs that are way out of your league, and applied for some more realistic possibilities, the latter are more likely to come through with an offer. So, if you just graduated college and you’re considering turning down your first opportunity in hopes of landing an executive position somewhere else, it’s time for a reality check. Then again, if all your potential employers are on a level playing field when it comes to your suitability for the position, you shouldn’t assume your first offer will be your only offer. 

If Company C saw potential in you, there’s no reason Companies A and B will not perceive the same talents. If you really want to hedge your bets, tell the company that offered you the position you’re considering several options right now, and ask how long you have to decide. Then contact the other companies you’re interested in and see where they are in the hiring process. If nothing comes together by the deadline, you can feel far more confident taking the first offer is the right decision. Plus, you won’t have to face the horrors of turning down a job you already accepted.

Am I psyching myself out?

It’s human nature to think there’s something better just around the corner. So, it’s possible your hesitancy to immediately yell, “I’m in!” is simply because it’s the first offer. To avoid psyching yourself out, research the other companies you’re hoping to hear from thoroughly, and compare them with the one you’re considering. You may just find your FOMO (fear of missing out) is totally unjustified.  Then you can commit with confidence.

You never want to feel like you’ve settled when it comes to finding the right job. Then again, you don’t want to feel like you’ve let opportunities pass you by either. Ultimately, if you ask yourself the questions posed here—and answer them honestly—you should be able to make the choice that’s right for you.