Tight deadline for accepting an offer (waiting to hear from another)
January 14, 2014 5:41 AM   Subscribe

Company A has an offer for me, and will be calling this Friday for an answer. Interviewed with Company B today, seemed to have gone well, explained to interviewer my situation, interviewer promised to give me an answer Friday as well. Now I'm worried Company A will get to me before Company B does, and I risk taking up on their offer without hearing from B first. What do I do? (More potentially game-changing details inside)

Early this week I got a call from Company A informing me of a job offer, which is great, except that I will have to give them an answer this Friday (which I agreed to, I had to think about the offered salary anyway since it's a bit lower than i had expected). Then literally an hour later I got a call from Company B informing me of an interview, which I just got back from. The interview went great, and when the interviewer told me that he could tell me within 2 weeks whether I'd have an offer I explained to him my situation, to which he seemed a bit disappointed (i might be reading too much into his expression), but told me that he could get back to me this Friday instead as a result. Now I'm worried that Company A guy will call me before Company B does, and I'll have to accept before finding out about my potential offer (which is equally if not more desirable) from B.

A couple things to take into consideration:

- When I requested that the terms of the offer be put down "on paper (or email), Company A declined and explained that the usual practice was that they wouldn't issue anything until they get a confirmation from its candidate. I'm worried that it's so that they could easily rescind the offet for whatever reason; which leads to the second thing, being:

- Is it bad form for me to ask Company A for an extra weekend to consider? Would they be offended by my apparent hesitance and rescind?

What would you do? And extra question: is it viable for me to negotiate my salary with Company A as a way to stall having to answer them end of this week?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Once you accept the offer, there are hoops. A background check, drug test, etc. Once you accept, they'll send you the entire offer package, including the description of benefits. Go ahead, accept the offer.

In that time, if another, better offer comes in, you can always take that one and let Company A know that you won't be going forward after all.

It's not like if you accept Company A on Friday, you'll be starting work on Monday.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:49 AM on January 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you think the salary from Company A is low, I'd ask for more money. I would ask them today for more regardless of what happens with Company B. Hopefully Company B gets back to you on Friday before say 4pm and you can call Company A back later in the day. I imagine a verbal only offer has some flexibility as far as time of day you accept and hopefully pay!
posted by Kalmya at 5:49 AM on January 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Can you screen your calls on Friday and just not return the call to company A until close to 5pm? It's not like they are going to rescind the offer, as long as you still get back to them on the day you said you would. You could leave a voicemail message on your phone saying you are busy in meetings until 4pm and will return important calls at that time (or similar).
posted by lollusc at 5:51 AM on January 14, 2014

What would you do?

The following is based on Company A's offer being vaguely reasonable and is intended to incite indirect price competition between Company A and Company B. If you feel that Company A's offer is actually substantively lower than market rates, this is not a good idea to do, as it indicates to Company B they can hire you for just a bit more than Company A's offer, which might be still lower than market rates.

To Company B right now: "As I indicated in the interview, I am in negotiations with Company A at the moment. They made an offer of $x. Based on that, I won't be able to accept an offer of less than $y". $y could be more than $x (if you feel particularly valuable to Company B), equal to $x, or less than $x (if you feel Company B offers something unique to you). At this point, they might just outright say they won't be able to meet that offer, which short circuits this entire process. At the very best for you, they might just make the offer right now, or sooner than Friday, in which case you can relay it to Company B.

To Company A after that: "I am also interviewing at Company B and they will be back to me on Friday. I will contact you on Friday after I talk to Company B when I get an answer from them." Tell them right now out of professional courtesy and also to get them prepared for potential negotiation.

On Friday, there are a few scenarios:
  1. Company B doesn't give an offer. Accept Company A's offer.
  2. Company B gives a bad offer. You have no negotiating leverage and you might as well just accept Company A's offer.
  3. Company B gives an offer equivalent to Company A's offer. Tell Company A that you would rather work at Company B for the same rate, so they will need to increase the offer for you to work at Company A. This doesn't even need to be true, as the chances of Company A revoking the offer are effectively zero (and if they did, you don't even want to work there anyway, so you just learned something useful about Company A's work culture)
  4. Company B gives an offer better than Company A's offer. Tell Company A the offer details and simply tell them they will need to make a better offer for you to work there. Don't justify the reasons behind the offer, just state that it exists. When there is market competition, you don't need to tell the employers why the salary is appropriate, just that someone is offering it.
If #1 or #2 happens, you are done. If #3 or #4 happen, Company B may not negotiate, in which case you just have to pick what offer you like better. If Company B does negotiate, then you repeat the process over again for Company A.

Each time you go through one of these steps, you gain a business day. You should make sure each company involves knows this and responds to you within a business day. However, it is entirely appropriate to just assume that the next step will take one business day, and you don't even need to justify that to the Company involved. Simply say, "tomorrow, I will tell you what Company A/B says" as a statement of fact rather than a question.

I requested that the terms of the offer be put down "on paper (or email)

For what it's worth, this is common practice at several companies I know. There's two reasons for this - a) it's less work (offer wordings often have to be approved by various people), b) it prevents people from taking offer letters to their current employer to get a raise or to another company giving an offer (which doesn't benefit the company with the offer). I'm not sure it really matters to you - they can rescind the offer whether it's verbal, written, or even the day before you start work.
posted by saeculorum at 6:13 AM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah... either just accept offer A when it comes and then rescind the acceptance if desired after hearing from Company B. Or screen calls on Friday until you hear from B with the caveat that even if you don't hear from B you need to act one way or the other with regards to A on Friday.
posted by edgeways at 6:18 AM on January 14, 2014

Early this week I got a call from Company A informing me of a job offer, which is great, except that I will have to give them an answer this Friday

Haha, no you don't. That's called an "exploding offer", and it's a pressure tactic you shouldn't buy into.

Call them back and explain that you'll need a few more days to make a decision. Exploding offers are bullshit, a company that actually wants you will be willing to wait a few more days.
posted by mhoye at 6:26 AM on January 14, 2014 [5 favorites]

In that time, if another, better offer comes in, you can always take that one and let Company A know that you won't be going forward after all.

...and ruin your reputation in the process.

Exploding offers are bullshit, a company that actually wants you will be willing to wait a few more days.

I don't use them myself, but they are a legitimate practice. Companies hire because they need to get something done. Candidates dragging their feet - regardless of the reason - can have a significant impact on the business.

I'd also be cautious about the belief that a company will wait for you. In this economy, with the number of great candidate who apply for every opening, it's easy to go with the next best choice of candidates and still be very happy with the hire.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 6:46 AM on January 14, 2014

Haha, no you don't. That's called an "exploding offer", and it's a pressure tactic you shouldn't buy into.
This. mhoye nailed it. If they made you an offer, they want you. Candidate searches are a lot of work, and they'd rather not have to start over again. The best advice I've received regarding exploding offers is to basically ignore them. Simply present them with your timeline. As long as it's reasonable, you'll be fine. Asking for a weekend is more than reasonable.
posted by AaRdVarK at 6:47 AM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just don't answer the phone Friday. Wait until you've voicemails from both places, then call Company B back first, and then Company A. I'm not sure why it needs to be harder than that.
posted by MeghanC at 7:38 AM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Why don't you try to negotiate the salary with Company A, especially since it's lower than you'd like? That will be a response you can give them on Friday that isn't a commitment and it should buy you at least a few more days. Once they come back with a number tell them you need a few more days to think about the new number.
posted by Colonel_Chappy at 9:13 AM on January 14, 2014

Yeah, if they want you they'll be willing to give you the weekend to think about it, no matter what they say. When you get the offers from companies A and B, tell them that you're weighing an offer that you recently got from another company, and that you'll get back to them on Monday. Then think about it over the weekend and come up with a negotiation plan based on the original offers, the amount you think you can improve them during negotiation, and the total outlook of each job. On Monday, make your calls and enact your plan.

If you say you need the weekend to think it over and they refuse, then they are probably a horrible company to work for and you'd be miserable there anyway. Sane companies don't do that kind of thing, and it would speak to an atmosphere of pressure and exploitation in the company as a whole.
posted by Scientist at 10:30 AM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry, an offer is not an offer without paper. I personally would not unconditionally accept an offer wiithout reading the FULL benefits manual (and for me it means FULL, everything from ostomy supply to wheelchair rental to dental plan and schedule for cleanings, life insurance maximums without medical exam, etc) , the sick policy, vacation policy, the NDA, and the intellectual property stipulations, moonlighting policy, non-compete. I would want to back out of an offer myself if any of those were unsatisfactory and cannot be resolved.

I would ask to see if there is room for more money now, this will push out a Friday date. Then if you find company A is favourable to company B, you could tentatively accept pending paperwork. Give yourself an opportunity to back out because there could be something lurking in those papers that will cost you out of pocket big bucks.
posted by crazycanuck at 10:46 AM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding that an offer is not an offer unless it's on paper (or, in the case of my current employer, PDF file of an offer on company letterhead e-mailed to me, which can very easily be printed out). Even then, I called back the HR rep and asked for things like details on health insurance, 401(k), and so forth -- I had a competitive offer for a similar job that I was also considering.

And I was in a similar situation. My "Company A" sent me an offer letter (via PDF on e-mail) that stipulated my start date, which, had I accepted the offer, would have given me exactly one week to pick up and move five hours away to some rural East Bumblefart area where I'd have been screwed if I got laid off again, and was furthermore a $10k pay cut when they knew what I had been making. I (politely) told them to go pound sand, even though at that time I didn't have any other offers.

No, you don't have to respond by Friday. In fact, I would say you've learned something about your Company A which tells you you do not want to work there, so you should probably decline their offer. At the very least, wait until you have an offer from Company B and play the offers against each other.
posted by tckma at 2:10 PM on January 14, 2014

I don't see it in your post, but have you tried asking Company A for an extension?

Alternatively, if it's any sort of tentative offer or conditional offer - on drug testing, background check, security clearance, etc - you can accept the initial offer, then wait for your other offer and possibly back out before the final offer. If it's a tentative/conditional offer, accept it to buy yourself some time and keep your sure thing going.

Depending on the size of the company in question, dropping out between now and your start date will or won't be a black mark against you - it is much more likely to be a black mark in small companies and niche fields, whereas in a large company, federal jobs, etc it's likely to go totally unremarked.

Best of luck, but unless you have some leeway in your current situation, take the definite situation over the unknown.
posted by bookdragoness at 3:23 PM on January 14, 2014

If A calls you on Friday before you've heard from Company B, tell them "Oh, hi, thanks so much for calling. Unfortunately I'm unable to give you a firm response right now, because I am also expecting an offer with another company. I expect to hear from them by 4:30 today. Can I take the weekend to consider?" If their answer is "no", tell them you'll call them back at 5.

If their answer is "no, must tell us right now", ask why it is that they need to process your response immediately, and what part of the project is so time-sensitive. If they can't give you a real reason, I'd consider not working for a company that's got that much of a time-management and stress issue. That might be just me, though.
posted by aimedwander at 4:10 PM on January 14, 2014

Company A's conditions are pretty strange -- I've never heard of an organization refusing to put an offer on paper before getting an acceptance. How can you possibly evaluate an offer before you have on paper stuff like the start date, total comp including benefits, title, etc.? I wonder if your hiring manager is kind of junior and doesn't understand the process yet. Either that or the company is just crappy.

Under the circumstances I think the best they can expect is a conditional acceptance -- like you could say "Yes, I'm willing to accept the offer, assuming all the paperwork pans out to be what I'd expect." If they're a competent company they won't release other candidates until they have a signed offer letter back from you, and even if they send you something Friday you can reasonably say you'll return it early the following week. And I would not consider such an acceptance binding in any way, and there is no way they can force you to ultimately accept.

Under the circumstances I'd be leaning towards B, and therefore I'd focus on getting a good offer from them. Don't tell them about your difficulties with A. Just tell them you really like B and would prefer to accept it, but that in order to do that you'd need an offer by end of day Monday. And if they ask if say Tuesday would be okay, I'd say yes. Because they are not dicking you around: they are trying to accelerate a process on your behalf.
posted by Susan PG at 5:56 PM on January 14, 2014

« Older Geography Books for a 9 Year Old   |   Is our lawyer incompetent? Is it even worth... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.