5 Tips on How to Handle Multiple Job Offers
It is a nerve-wracking scenario. You have been offered a job, but have a couple of other contenders that you are waiting on. Or better yet, you have multiple offers simultaneously.
It’s the best problem to have, but is still a stressful situation. You don’t want to accept a job offer only to resign two weeks into the role or to feel regret about your decision. And, you also want to avoid offending any potential employers or target companies, or damaging your relationship with organizations with whom you won’t be moving forward.
Dealing with multiple job offers is a delicate dance and the best way to tango your way through it is to have a strategy before it even happens. Here are five steps to take if you find yourself with several offers or are given an offer while still waiting to hear from other companies.
FOCUS ON YOUR PRIMARY CAREER GOALS – NOT JUST ON SALARY
Take time to understand each role and what it can fully offer. You should never accept a position when you are first offered it. Consider what benefits are provided in the full package.
Asking for a week or so to review a job offer is the norm. You can phrase this by saying something along the lines of “Thank you very much for this opportunity. I am honored and excited to be considered. I do need to think this over and discuss it with my family. Is it possible for me to give you an answer by September 15?”
Buying yourself time allows you to make a fully informed decision and take adequate time to weigh the pros and cons of the offer—or to leverage it for other offers you might be waiting on.
When you receive an offer, you’ll want to know all of the financial and non-financial elements. Do not hesitate to ask important questions during the interview process so you can construct your hiring criteria to include:
Scope of role
- Starting date
- Core responsibilities
- Work hours (expected paid or unpaid overtime)
Level of authority
- Administrative support
- Reporting relationships
- Non-compete agreement
- Time off: personal days, vacation, parental leave, sabbaticals (first and subsequent years, compensation, or carryover)
- Travel required
- Remote or flexible work (virtual or telecommuting) options
- Commute (length, mode)
- Training and development opportunities
- Professional events and conference opportunities
Relationship with boss
- Decision-making authority; autonomy
- Management style
- Trusts the team; no micromanaging
- Bonus: starting, sign-on, guaranteed annual increases, performance incentives
- Insurance: Health (medical, dental, vision, counseling, EAP), life, disability, accident, or travel (benefits, fees) insurance
- Pension (401(k), matching benefits, vested time)
- Stock options
- Higher education tuition, certification or license reimbursement
- Travel and transportation (company car, airline perks and privileges, car expenses)
- Relocation assistance if needed (moving, hotel, travel, realtor fees)
It’s good to remember that the company chose you—and now you have the advantage of assessing offers and picking the job that's best for you and your family.
THOROUGHLY INVESTIGATE JOB OFFERS
You are assessing each employer and the people who work for them. Employee engagement is a huge factor in deciding where to work, and there are a few key questions to ask yourself when dealing with multiple offers.
- Is the manager someone you trust and can see as a mentor who will want to help you grow and flourish within the organization?
- Does the company and its leadership encourage employees to step outside their comfort zones?
- Do you feel like you’re being fully listened to during interviews? The people who interviewed you should understand your goals just as much as you should understand their needs for the role, team, and corporate mission/vision.
- How do you think you will you feel on a daily basis in each role? Imagining where you will be happiest every day is an excellent way to follow your gut and help you make big decisions.
- Does the interviewer (or interviewers) use ‘we’ and ‘our’ when speaking of team accomplishments? If so, this can signal an admiration and respect for team contributions and recognition of employees for their accomplishments. It also means leadership isn’t taking credit for other peoples’ work—a very telling sign about a prospective employer.
If a hiring manager has many of the positive attributes on your assessment, it can be a good indicator that the little things in between the main scope of work align to your goals.
LONG-TERM CAREER STRATEGY VERSUS SHORT-TERM PLANS
What is your main goal? Take a long-term view: Is this a company you want to be with in 10 years? Can you see yourself retiring from this organization? Or, are you using this role to obtain some quick experience? Is this a good stepping stone to another career or target organization?
Analyze all job offers to see if they support your goals. Maybe there is a great opportunity for growth or the possibility of eventually making more money in the long run as you rise in the organization or have the chance to participate in talent mobility initiatives. If promotions, talent mapping, or money are your priority, then you may need to create an old-fashioned pros-and-cons list to help you weigh your long-term options.
Some key items to consider in long-term planning include your job title, global scaling and mobility, the company’s strategic direction, training and development opportunities, and financial and non-financial incentives.
THE “DREAM JOB” DILEMMA: LIGHT THE FIRE TO SPEED THE PROCESS
You might have to take the driver’s seat and tell potential employers that you have other job offers on the table. While it’s best to avoid this scenario, sometimes it takes a wake-up call for a company to realize its top candidate is a hot commodity and the organization must start moving faster to capture your talent.
While asking for a week or two to think things over can buy you time, it’s wisest to set the timeline as soon as possible so that prospective employers are aware of your intentions and know how long it may take until you come back with an answer. In some cases, your target company may be unwilling to speed up the interviewing process, leaving you in the unenviable position of accepting the first job offer even if you hope to accept your target company’s offer down the line.
It’s best to keep in mind that the number one behavior that is frowned upon during a job search is accepting an offer and then withdrawing it when a better one comes along. That can burn bridges, damage your reputation, and ruin future opportunities. Individuals on the receiving end of your about-face move to different companies and are continually expanding their network of contacts—and they may warn against hiring you in the future. The best course of action is to be honest and start notifying organizations that you are exploring other options and have offers on the table.
As a career coach at RiseSmart, I have had many job seekers get to the point where they had to take the lead by contacting Company A (dream company/job) to let them know they’ve received an offer from Company B (second choice). In a few cases, I have seen this approach work: Company A sped up its process to avoid losing its top candidate to a competitor. I’ve also seen candidates use offers to leverage better salaries, benefits packages, and vacation time. These are tacks to consider if you find yourself in a similar situation.
Admitting that you have other options should never be held against you by employers; if anything, it’s likely to entice them into making an offer even more quickly.
CLOSING OUT YOUR JOB SEARCH
Once you have made your decision, you want to effectively transition into your next opportunity. This requires some organization and planning. Never close out a search with only a verbal offer, as these are not official. Once you receive the written offer, follow these steps to round out the process.
- Close out any pending interviews or hiring conversations. It is imperative that nobody feels like you are wasting his or her time. You want to part on good terms.
- Communicate with and thank your network. This includes anyone who has helped you, interviewed you, scheduled interviews for you, provided you with a contact email or name, assisted with your resume, delivered advice, and even watched your kids while you went to an interview. Follow up with everyone who helped in your search with a personalized thank you note. Do not send a mass email.
- Update your communication documents and materials. You can take your resume off the job boards and officially update your resume and LinkedIn/social media profiles with the new role. Add accomplishments and tasks as you achieve them in your new role.
- Meet with your manager during the first 90 days to continue to manage your career. Keep building and maintaining relationships with your network, colleagues, and peers. Achieve quick wins to add to your arsenal of accomplishments. Continue to set goals for yourself on the job, professionally and personally. When we set formal goals, we tend to achieve them.
The best advice I can give in managing multiple job offers or stalling while waiting for a potentially better offer is to make sure you manage expectations. Outreach and follow-up is extremely important. Continue to check in often with the companies with whom you are actively interviewing and be upfront about your timeline.
Achieving the right balance is key. Don't necessarily accept the first offer you receive; instead, be gracious and ask for time to think things over and discuss the position with your family. By the same token, do not expect a prospective employer to wait a month—or even more than one or two weeks——for a decision. This advice remains true even when you are not actively looking and are just exploring options for career development.
The takeaway: Always be pleasant and positive, and remember that the outcome is aligned to the amount of risk you are willing to take.