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Candidate question: Balancing multiple offers

I don't know where

Photo Credit: Matias Dutto

District 13 film Q:

When I'm balancing more than one offer at a time, how upfront should I be with the companies?  An ultimatum seems too pushy in certain circumstances. I have one offer in hand, but a better one that may take another week or two to finalize. Some people accept jobs only to later decline if they get another, more desirable offer which seems like an integrity compromise to me.


If you are an active job seeker, it's appropriate to be up front with both companies about where you are in the interview processes. An active job seeker usually evaluates more than one company. By letting the hiring managers or the recruiters know where you stand with other offers will help with timing. Being upfront doesn't necessarily mean the timing will work out in your favor, but it will at least give the other company an opportunity to make a move and you won't be stuck at the last minute appearing to give ultimatums.

By delaying giving an answer to Company A in hopes of evaluating a potentially better offer by Company B is risky. Company A may not be willing to wait it out and will probably feel its offer is being shopped around for something better. Company B may or may not come through with an offer and by waiting you run the risk of losing the offer from Company A.

Your best bet is to evaluate Company A's offer based on what you are looking for in an opportunity and make a decision based on that. If you can't decide if Company A is the right move, then it probably isn't and you should kindly decline the offer or tell the company you need a bit more time and you understand if they are continuing in their search. Be ready to lose it.

The best case scenario is if you don't have an offer in hand by Company A. If the company is ready to present an offer, you could let the hiring manager know you are extremely interested in the opportunity, but you are far along in some other interview processes that will wrap up within two weeks. You would like to see out the rest of the process so you can evaluate your options equally before you receive a written offer. The hiring manager should be much more understanding and will appreciate your honesty and integrity.

It is best to not ask for an offer from a company unless you are ready to make a decision. Companies usually expect an answer within 48 hours of the offer extension. Letting a company sit for two weeks for a decision with an offer in hand usually puts doubts in the hiring managers mind about the candidate's interest and enthusiasm in the position being offered.

Once you accept an offer with one company, you should be prepared to let the other companies move on. Accepting a job to only later decline for Company B is just plain wrong (in most situations). Candidates who choose this compromise their integrity and burn bridges with everyone involved in the process and cost the hiring company a lot of money. The chances are you will run into the people involved in the hiring process in your career at some point. That hiring manager could be the head of communications at your agency's biggest pitch of the decade a few years down the road. People don't forget these situations, so it's important to handle it with care.

This is part of a new column I will be featuring here on my blog. If you have a question and think the rest of the community would benefit from the answer, please ask me here and I'll do my best to feature it (or at least respond individually). Your name will be kept in strict confidence.


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