How to navigate the tricky waters of possible multiple job offers?
February 26, 2013 8:28 AM   Subscribe

I'm a UI/UX designer who is flat broke and unemployed. I'm independently interviewing for 2 positions at the moment and have 3-4 other positions that I have or am about to interview for through a recruiter. Some are temporary, some are temp-to-perm, and some are permanent. Some are also more interesting to me than others, including one that I'm most interested in which I've been waiting to hear back from for the past week or so. However, the temporary positions (2-4 weeks) have more immediate needs and are more likely to lay something on the table in the next few days if they end up giving me an offer. My question is: If I get a call that says "We'd like to offer you the position", how do I respond without an immediate yes and still be in consideration?

I don't want to accept something and two days later get a call from a more exciting company that they also are offering me a job. And if I were in that position, is it possible to rescind my acceptance before anything is signed?

Other general advice for the situation would be great as well, as I've never been in a situation where I've had to worry about these sort of logistics before.
posted by gregoryg to Work & Money (5 answers total)
In my experience, you can only hold off prospective employers for so long. That said, you can usually buy a few days by going through negotiations, then saying, in effect, "I need a few days to consider the offer to make sure it makes sense for me."

And if I were in that position, is it possible to rescind my acceptance before anything is signed?

Well, anything's possible. You're under no legal obligation, if that's what you mean. It's mostly something you'd want to handle with care for a) professional courtesy, and b) personal reputation in your professional circles. That said, things "come up" in the job hunt, and most employers will understand this, particularly the sooner you let them off the hook. This is an area where tact and respect will go a long way, in my experience.
posted by Brak at 8:40 AM on February 26, 2013

I know you're worried about this, but I'm pretty sure your permanent positions aren't going to be put off by you needing 2-4 weeks to finish out a pre-existing commitment to a temporary position. Needing two weeks to start (or more) is a perfectly normal thing for a new hire. Just frame it correctly: you don't have cancer. You're very excited to come on board, and want to know their timeline so that you can wrap up your current gig. So, take any temporary positions without hesitation.
posted by deludingmyself at 9:05 AM on February 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

Work with your recruiter and be HONEST with your recruiter about what you want and who you want to work for. (Assuming that you've already had this conversation with yourself).

If you get an offer, thank them and just say that you need a day or two to think and discuss with your family. It's not that you're not 100% interested in the job, it's that you just need to talk to your internal team (e.g. family) to make sure it's the best fit for everyone involved. No one will argue with you about this.

Then, use this to turn up the heat with the job you want and are waiting on. Tell them that you have a competing offer, but want to hear their decision before accepting the competing offer. Give them a deadline.

If they can't meet this deadline and you've accepted elsewhere, then you need to be clear with them that you've accepted another offer and that they are going to have to make a very strong offer/argument for you to consider rescinding the offer. It's ok to take things back if nothing is signed. If something is signed, it gets trickier.
posted by floweredfish at 9:11 AM on February 26, 2013

As someone else in the field - take the short-term gigs. If and when you get an offer for a position you want (and by this I mean in writing, not simply verbal), you've got a day or two to talk with the fam, and figure out how much time you'll need to finish out any outstanding commitments. I just had to do this myself recently, and nobody blinked twice.

It's not polite to give a verbal yes and then back out. If these temp jobs are contract ones, it's a little different than "temp stuff," and you're expected to see through whatever commitment you make (once you've signed). Bailing on a contract job would definitely leave a black mark. Don't burn your bridges. The professional community is small and everybody seems to know everybody.
posted by canine epigram at 12:34 PM on February 26, 2013

The temp jobs in question are short ones. Odds are that if you do get a full time offer while in the midst of a temp gig, you'll have plenty of time to finish out the temp gig before you start the full time one. Don't worry about it. Having multiple job opportunities within a short period of time is not a bad problem to have.
posted by spilon at 2:08 PM on February 26, 2013

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