An interesting phenomenon occurred with two clients over the past 2 weeks: both got job offers they were not ecstatic about.

One decided to take the position, with trepidation. The other is still deciding.

Huh??? In this economy, after searching for about a year, they aren’t ecstatic about getting a job? What’s up with that?

In the first case, the hesitation has to do with the company culture. She wonders if she will fit in and whether the company will truly accept her. On the face of it, this is her dream job: exactly the kind of work she wants to do, the role she wants to play (at a higher level than ever before!), the money she wants, the location she wants (local), and the kind of company she wanted to work for. Plus the company, in meeting all her requests, has shown great enthusiasm for her, her skills and abilities, and her Core Value Proposition.

Yet she hesitated to accept the job. It’s a company based in another country with a culture based in that country’s culture. It’s different from US-based companies, and she’s nervous about whether there will be a true fit.

It turns out that “culture and colleagues” is an extremely high priority on her Must Have List.  So high, in fact, that it almost outweighed the other 5 items on her List.

She decided to take the job because it does meet so much of her Must Have List…and she needs a job and the income it provides. She can’t wait any longer. So she’s decided to give it a go, trusting that she’ll be able to cope.  Oh, and she’s going to continue getting coaching to help her make the transition to a new culture. Yes, asking for help is definitely a coping mechanism.

My other client was offered a job that also meets virtually all of her Must Have List, with one major exception: location. She and her family will have to relocate from one coast to another. It’s almost a deal breaker for her.

The lesson of these two stories is that a Must Have List is an essential guide to what you want in a job, and one of the items almost always outweighs everything else. In a perfect world, you’d get everything you want. This isn’t a perfect world, though, so people are having to make some very hard choices. Including giving up something that they now realize mattered more than they expected.