Dealing with Multiple Job Offers
It can be tricky when more than one hiring manager gets serious about your future at their company. Should you tell them about each other? How do you handle offers that come at different times? And how do you know which position to take?
Take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back for your clearly impressive interview skills. Then use these tools to get down to business.
Whether you have one job offer and expect to get another soon or you already have multiple in hand, your first step is to compare the different positions.
To consider the pros and cons of your various options, you need to know three things: what you want, how important each desired factor is, and what each company will provide. Start by evaluating your own needs and preferences. What situation would be ideal? Is there anything you absolutely require in order to accept an offer? Some areas you might consider include:
Benefits & Compensation
Relocation (if applicable)
Next, weigh offers across the categories you ranked important. You can use a templated chart like this one from University of Houston, or create your own table tailored to your preferences. If you’re having trouble making the hard decisions about what matters most, or whether two less-important perks make up for the lack of a more valued benefit, talk to someone you trust. A fresh perspective may be just what you need.
Now, if this analysis makes deciding between positions easy, and you have the winning offer already in writing, that’s great. Many people, however, will be in a situation like this one:
You’ve been talking with Company A for a while, and they seem quite interested in you. While you would be alright at Company A, you’re really excited about the opportunities at Company B. Then Company A sends you an offer, giving you 48 hours to respond. That’s great, except you have your second interview with Company B at the end of the week. Even though you think you’ll get an offer there, it isn’t guaranteed.
So what now?
You need to figure out your timetable. Ask the hiring manager from Company A for an extension (be cautious requesting anything more than a week). Be honest; tell them you’re excited about the offer, but you have another interview with a different organization at the end of the week and you’d like to see it through. When you go to your interview with Company B, tell the hiring manager that they are your first choice, but you’ve received another offer you need to respond to. Ask how long it should take to know whether you will get the position.
A few key points about juggling potential employers:
- Keep it professional: Be polite, sincere, and respectful. You don’t want to burn any bridges.
- Avoid details: You can mention salary ranges, for example, but don’t go into the minutiae of who has offered what. It’s unnecessary and is seen as unprofessional.
- Watch out for negative attitudes: If an employer or manager becomes angry or dismissive, it may be an indicator of how they regularly interact with their staff.
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As with any job offer, you may choose to negotiate once the proposal is extended. However, it is easy to go too far when multiple businesses are vying for your talent. Be realistic about your bargaining power and don’t let the excitement of multiple offers go to your head. Here are three tips for an effective compromise:
- Research: Use a website like PayScale to determine the average wage for the position. A quick Google search may also be useful. Don’t ask for anything massively outside the norm; you will scare potential employers away.
- Don’t try to pit companies against each other: If you go back and forth between organizations asking them to match each other on benefits, salaries, etc., hiring managers will become frustrated and simply hire someone else.
- Use your chart: Make sure that whatever you’re asking for ranked highly for importance in the comparison analysis from the beginning of this article. There are plenty of horror stories about people who based their decisions on something they didn’t consider vital—don’t become one of them!
Hiring managers talk and network, so ruining your image at one company may have far greater implications than you realize. Job seekers who annoy future employers by playing them against each other, for example, may develop a reputation as not worth the time, energy, or cost of consideration.
But the absolute surest way to damage your future prospects is to accept an offer… and then decline. There are people who recommend this, who claim it’s “just business,” and that hiring managers have no reason to be offended if you accept one position and then decline it before you start so that you can take another.
This simply isn’t the case. The company puts time, effort, and money into preparing for your arrival once you commit to your new role. They contact all the other candidates they were considering to say the position has been filled and take down their job postings. If a hiring manager has to go through the time and cost to restart the candidate search because you didn’t stick to your agreement, you can be sure s/he will warn others not to risk hiring you in the future.
With some careful navigating, you can easily manage multiple job offers and land the job you want. Just remember what is most important to you, and make that the focus of your search.
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