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Juggling Multiple Offers

June 5, 2017
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When receiving simultaneous job offers, honesty is the best policy, and there are some key variables to consider before making a decision

So, you’ve been validated in the market by having multiple options and/or offers at the same time. Good for you! While having choices is a good thing, it’s also important to make sure you take the high road with each organization that is courting you to maintain your professionalism and your ethics, as this can be a very slippery slope if you don’t navigate it correctly.

I get calls all the time from candidates that we are working with that suddenly drop a big surprise in our lap at the last-minute informing us they have another offer—knowing good and well that the offer has been in the works the entire time, meaning they have been doing the dance with our firm. I understand the reasons why people think that it’s ok to withhold information during a job search, but at the end of the day it conveys the wrong message about the character of the candidate especially when questions about “who else are you talking to” or “what other opportunities are you considering” come up in a routine conversation with the recruiter, and that information is withheld.

I believe that honesty is always the best policy, and while you don’t need to give specific details about where you are with other opportunities, you do need to inform the person that is investing his or her precious time and resources trying to help you find a new job that you are talking with other organizations. And, informing that person up front is the correct way to play it.

Once you do have multiple offers in hand you should consider the “four C’s” that I’ve talked about before making your decision:

Culture: This one can be very hard for an outsider to read. I always recommend that new recruits speak with current employees to really get an understanding of the culture of the company. I also suggest that candidates ask the hiring manager a couple of key questions during the interviewing process: What is it like to work for you? What is your management style? The answers, coupled with the intelligence gained from employees, should give you a fairly good read on what it's like to work for that organization. This is the single most important “C” in my book.

Career progression: How will this position help you attain your career objectives five or six years from now? Whatever you do, you should make sure you find a role that matches your career goals and puts you closer to reaching your long-term objectives. Making a move for 5 to 8 percent more money is not career progression, and while it may increase your W-2 at the end of the year, it might not give you the chance to move towards your long-term career goals.

Chemistry: How was the interaction between you and the hiring manager? How did it make you feel? Have you had multiple interactions with that person, or just a one-hour interview? You can't always size up a person by meeting with them for an hour. I always like to schedule a post-interview, outside-of-the-office follow-up meeting so candidates can meet the hiring manager for lunch or dinner, or in some other social setting. Missing the mark on chemistry can prove to be a very painful experience, so if you don't have a good feeling about working for this individual, the position is probably not going to work out.

Compensation: I always recommend that candidates check this box last when evaluating a new opportunity. If all the other elements under consideration are positive, then usually the ability to make sure the compensation works should be within striking distance. Another point that needs to be driven home is to be sure you're not chasing compensation as the key component of the move. A good offer should increase your base salary and give you sufficient upside on variable compensation if you hit your targets. Money, while clearly important, should not be the end-all. If you choose money over the other elements of your decision, you may find yourself with more money in your pocket at the end of every month, but overwhelmed and in total misery if you don't check the other boxes first.

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