Q: I have been in the job market for 6 months, and wouldn’t you know it? I now have not one but two job offers. I am overjoyed! But here’s my dilemma. How do I make sure I am able to get the best offer from the best firm?
A : Rather like buses, we can wait forever for a job offer and then two come along at once.
While it is great to feel in demand, multiple job offers pose a dilemma. What do you do if the first offer received, while representing a good career move, isn’t your ideal and you believe the dream job could be just a phone call away? How long can you hold out before accepting or declining the offer? Not treating any offer or future employer with full respect can mean that two job offers quickly turn into none and you create a bad feeling along the way with potential employers.
It is possible to juggle more than one job offer, but the situation needs careful thought and consideration. Here are some guiding principles that should help secure the best possible outcome and ensure you don’t burn any bridges with future employers.
There are inherent risks in juggling more than one offer and to manage the situation successfully you need to use your intuition combined with a practical analysis of each offer. Compare the two roles carefully and assess their short-, medium- and long-term opportunities.
Factors to consider include scope for training and development, the culture of the organization, the people you will be working alongside and how well it fits with your own values. Also, include practical considerations such as commuting time and cost. Match these against your own priorities and expectations to help decide which comes out top. Make your comparisons on a like-for-like basis wherever possible and, while it’s perfectly natural to have a preference based on gut feeling alone, try to be objective.
While having two job offers on the table puts you in a position of strength, it is essential not to be tempted to play one off against the other or indulge in unnecessary stalling tactics, which may irritate a future employer.
But by all means go back to glean more information about the role, particularly if you are using a recruitment agency, which can serve as a handy intermediary. It is also entirely acceptable to ask for a few days to make up your mind, especially if the job involves relocation. You could ask to spend some time at the company and to be introduced to key personnel who you will be working alongside and whom you haven’t met yet. These tactics will buy you time while you decide and will also show that you are serious about the offer.
Reneging on a job offer because you have received a better one threatens to damage your integrity with not just the first employer, but the second one, too. If you had no qualms about letting the first company down, who’s to say you won’t behave in exactly the same way again when you get a better offer a few months down the line?
Calculate the risk of potential damage to your reputation and future job prospects against the benefits of the seemingly more attractive proposition. If you genuinely feel on reflection that the first job will be a bad fit and your employment with the company is be unlikely to last, there may be a case for going back on your decision, but it should never be taken lightly.
Once you’ve accepted the preferred offer, inform the other employer of your decision as soon as possible. Be sure to personally contact the person who interviewed you at the organization to thank them and provide a short explanation of why you’ve turned down their offer. By taking the time to be courteous at this stage you will leave a favorable impression which may be useful at some point down the line.
If you only do 5 things:
- List the pros and cons of each opportunity
- Buy some extra time if necessary
- Be upfront and honest
- Avoid accepting an offer and then backing out
- Politely follow up with unsuccessful employers
Congratulations and Good Luck!