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One job offer and another on the way? Here's what to do
25 February 2016
If you're actively looking for a new job and have interviewed with different companies, then it's commonplace for the processes to evolve at different speeds. What do you do then if you receive one job offer but are holding out for others?
Firstly, congratulations on receiving an offer of work. Not only does this mean you are considered the best candidate for a position that interested and excited you and that you have an exit strategy from your current job, it also means you now have some leverage by which you can try to speed up offers from elsewhere. It's a win-win situation.
Communicating to other potential hiring managers that you have received an offer will sharpen their thinking and often speed up their process to making to you an offer yourself or ruling you out of their process. Either way, it can give you clarity of where you stand with possible career moves.
But beware, you might be considered the best candidate for the position you've been offered, but this offer will only be on the table for a limited period and hiring managers don't take kindly to a candidate stalling on signing a contract.
So what are the steps you need to take in this situation to ensure you keep everyone happy and get the right result? Based on my experience, here is what you should do:
Be honest with the hiring manager who has made you an offer
Preferably you've already admitted that you have other interviews on-the-go during the process, but this is the time to say where you stand. Make sure you communicate it in a way that underlines your excitement about the offer and position, but that you have to see the other processes through to completion. They will thank you for your honesty.
Establish timeframes with the hiring manager for how long you have to consider their offer
It is pretty standard for them to do this when the offer is made, but ensure there is a clear date for when you need to make a decision.
Approach other hiring managers and explain that you have received an offer
Explain the timeframes by which you need to make a decision on the offer and ask them if they are likely to be able to complete their hiring process within the same timeframes.
Be honest about the offer you have received
The other hiring managers will either say they are still some way off, or rule you out of the process and wish you well, or they may be encouraged to ask you at this point what the offer is so they can assess if they can match or better it. This is where the angel on one shoulder tells you to be honest about the offer and the devil on the other prompts you to inflate the terms of the offer to see what more you might be able to get from a different offer. It often pays to be honest in this situation because you wouldn't want to be found out and thought of as untrustworthy.
The contract offer will only be on the table for a limited period and hiring managers don't take kindly to a candidate stalling on signing a contract
Make a decision that suits you best
Within the space of a few days you should have a clear idea of where your future lies, but sometimes the other processes can drag their feet and you're left with one contract offer on the table only and time running out to sign it. Here's where you have two choices - reject the offer and stay in your current role until the other processes are finalised or accept the offer and declare yourself out of the running for the other positions. Mark my words, if you accept the offer and try to stay in the other processes it is not going to work out well. You won't be giving the new position your full commitment and if you receive and accept an offer from one of the other processes, you will have to quit a new role before it's barely started and infuriate the hiring manager who thought they had their dream candidate in place. Sullying your reputation in the marketplace in the process.
The long and the short of it is that you started with one offer on the table and this might well be all you’re going to get within the timeframes imposed upon you. If this is a role you really want, grasp it with both hands. On the other hand, if you think other positions you’ve interviewed for are better options and you stand a realistic chance of being successful, then the offer on the table might not be right for you now and in the near future. If you can afford to decline it or stretch it out for as long as possible, then this is the right path for you.
Still stuck on what to do? Here's more advice on choosing between two job offers.
You need to think carefully about which role you want the most and apply this tactical plan to ensure you get the right outcome:
- Be honest and up front with hiring managers all the way through
- Try to get as many assurances as possible about your chances of getting an offer in all processes you've entered into and the timeframes they are working towards
- Don't accept a role if you think you might receive an offer elsewhere soon afterwards that would be your preferred choice
- Use the offer you have received as a win-win situation and leverage it to get clarity on the status of other potential offers
- Choose the best opportunity for your career
- Explain your decisions and be gracious to all parties