Sifting through piles of job offers
July 7, 2014 11:47 AM   Subscribe

Well, not exactly, but recent unemployment has led to an unexpectedly high number of interviews and job offers. I've never been in a position to turn down a job offer before, so I'm in need of some assistance from the hive-mind! Snowflakes inside, of course.

I was laid off from my job a few weeks ago and finished work quite unexpectedly last week. (I was called into a meeting and told to go home immediately and not return.) It was a no-fault layoff, the company had been in financial trouble for some time and the writing had been on the wall for over a year. I'm mostly glad to be out of there, to be honest. The pressure of working on a sinking ship was getting too much for me, anyway.

So, now I'm in a position where I've been to several interviews and happily have a few job offers to pick from. There's the additional complication that I've got another interview, next week.

Job A is one I interviewed for recently - it's a full-time position at a Big Corporate, reasonably interesting but standard corporate stuff, and the big downside of it (for me personally) is that it's located at Big Corporate's offices in Big City Centre, which would be a pig of a commute. I've been unhappily working in the middle of a huge city for three years in my last job, and I really want something different.

Job B came out of the blue today. It's a contract position, a very good sum of money (hundreds per day) for three months. They called me this morning, interviewed me this afternoon, and offered me the work on an immediate basis. But my 'sketchy company alarm' is tingling somewhat. It's a new startup in a small town, there were only two guys there when I went down to be interviewed, there was no server equipment (it's "on the way"), and it all seemed a bit strange. They are now hassling me for an answer - they basically want someone who can start yesterday. It's not a total scam - the company is in the sports sector and has had some fairly extensive news coverage in reputable channels (eg BBC) lately, but this job gives me the squicks for some reason.

Job C is a big complicating factor. It's the one I really want. It ticks a lot of boxes for me personally - a set of technologies I'm genuinely excited about working with, a small company but not too small, an ideal non-city location close to my family and friends, and a lot of training and development opportunities which are important to me at this stage of my career. But I had a phone interview with them last week, and they can't interview me until next week. This is the job I want, but if I say no to Jobs A and B, then this company doesn't hire me, I'm kind of up shit creek.

I grew up relatively poor with parents who both worked long hours and still live in a poor working-class place, and the concept of turning down a job offer is anathema to me - I've always struggled, and the idea of turning down work makes me feel fussy and diva-ish! But I can't take all the work I'm being offered. I don't think I want to take Job B - the money would be nice, but there are too many question-marks over the place for me to feel comfortable. I've worked at one tiny, struggling company already and don't want to jump ship straight onto another. But I really don't know what I should do about Job C. I don't feel that I can turn down Jobs A and B, in case Job C doesn't materialise. What on earth should I do, AskMe?!
posted by winterhill to Work & Money (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know what job role you're in, but in my experience in technology, most people are interviewing at more than one place, and offers come in at different times. Just about every time I've looked for a job, I've had multiple offers, and the companies who make the earlier offers have always understood that I'm waiting to finish other interviews before making a decision. So I don't know that waiting for company C means you need to turn down company A. Have you told A that you have other interviews in process and that you need some time?

I personally react poorly to being pressured to make a decision quickly, so I'd probably decline B on those grounds alone. But that's just me.
posted by primethyme at 11:57 AM on July 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

I think B is out of the picture immediately. Sounds too sketchy. Call Job C and tell them you have standing offers and need to be interviewed ASAP. If they can't interview you, take Job A and keep looking. (Look at the employment laws of your state if you are taking unemployment. Most states will not let you turn down a job and stay on unemployment.)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:02 PM on July 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

I would turn down B because they are pressuring you and that's a bad indicator of what working there would be like. I would turn down A because of the bad commute., and because you seem to be a hot enough commodity that you can find something that isn't a bad commute. I would hope for an offer from C, but keep applying elsewhere in the meantime. And by all means call C and tell them you have offers and would like them to expedite your interview, offer to meet after hours / on a weekend and see what happens.
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:03 PM on July 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

To start with, have you explained your situation to Job C? Employers understand how these things work and may be able to speed up the process if you tell them you have another offer pending but can make a good case why they are really the ones you want to work with.

Beyond that, can you say no to Job B, put Job A off for a couple weeks, and pursue Job C? And since you've had so much luck with your search so far, keep looking for other opportunities in the meantime.
posted by zachlipton at 12:04 PM on July 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

You don't say anything about your ability to weather additional time of unemployment. If that is not too difficult, then you probably have more reason than you might think to decline Jobs A and B in favor of the interview with C.

Also, if you've snagged three interviews and two offers within "a few weeks" of being let go, your problem may not be what to do about Job A and Job B, but what to do about Job D and Job E while Job C completes the interview process. (see also zachlipton)
posted by John Borrowman at 12:05 PM on July 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

My opinionated opinion: Listen to your sense of "squick". Refuse Job B.

@zachlipton pretty much encapsulates the rest of my opinion. Let Job A wait.
posted by Citrus at 12:24 PM on July 7, 2014

Congratulations! I was made redundant last week, and I'm just now swinging into a job hunt as well.

As for Company B. Skip.

Tell Company A, "I'm really interested, please send me the entire offer package so that I can review. I'm evaluating a few opportunities right now, and I'll be able to give you a firm answer on X date."

Then name a date that you're comfortable with. There's hoo-ha with every job offer, drug test, background check, etc. So buy yourself some time.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:25 PM on July 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

Not sure if this helps, but I was in this exact situation before, and this was the script that I used for companies A and B: "I am very excited about the possibility of working there, I see [insert positive adjectives]. However, I am ultimately looking for the best fit mutual and I still have one outstanding interview. Can I have until X/X/2014 to decide?" Even an employer that wanted to know yesterday/NOW agreed to that, but one never knows. But definitely convey enthusiasm.

For job C, the script that I used was "I really like your potential job because [positive adjectives], fits with my experience.But I currently have 2 job offers on the table and they would like a response - is there any way to accelerate the timeline?" This has worked 90% of the time.

Even if you know that you don't want job B, don't throw it out the window. Some people might disagree, but I have used competing offers to get something that I want. Something like "Hello Job A, I am very excited about the possibility of working there, positive adjectives, but I also have another job offer and it pays more. I am concerned about the discrepancy in salary." Then be silent.If they don't start talking, state, "I need a few days to think about this." But don't negotiate until you have resolved what to do about C(ie, interview and decision from them).

I know it seems scary, but walk away from the jobs that are not a good fit.If you have this many job offers already, another one will happen.
posted by Wolfster at 12:28 PM on July 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

> You don't say anything about your ability to weather additional time of unemployment.

I was quite poorly paid at my previous job, so little that I was living month-to-month, so my savings are somewhat paltry. I've got seven more weeks of pay from Old Job coming as part of my redundancy settlement, then the money taps are getting turned off. So I really have to find something within the next month or so. Hope that clears it up - sorry for omission!
posted by winterhill at 12:48 PM on July 7, 2014

I recently went through this exact thing -- two very different job offers, mix of pros and cons for each -- and ended up taking the "sure bet" offer that would be the equivalent to your Big Corporate option A.

My reasons:

1. I've been freelancing and working on little contract jobs for the last year and a half, and I really liked the consistency of being employed by a huge employer in a stable situation. I will not have to scour the job listings and canvass all my connections for work for at least a year. That's a great feeling.

2. I had just come off a job that, as you say, pinged my "sketchy" alarm, and it was nice to just be able to say yes and show up and know that I wasn't going to spend every day questioning every single thing about my work life, because New Job was a known quantity that, like, pays people a living wage and isn't going to abruptly stop existing.

3. Like your option C, the other job I was considering was a bit of a dream job, but not a job I had a solid lock on. There also were a lot of reasons the job might not have turned out to be such a dream job if it actually materialized.
posted by Sara C. at 1:09 PM on July 7, 2014

Job B sets off big flashing warning lights. Avoid unless it's that or the unemployment line, and maybe even then.

Job A sounds like they're big enough to have some patience with you. Big firms hire slowly anyway. Tell them you'll be able to give them an answer soon but not immediately, and interview with C.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:26 PM on July 7, 2014

Great to hear that you've got several job offers. I would imagine that even if none of these jobs come through, you'll be able to find other opportunities. I say you pass on Job seems too risky. Even it does pay well, it only lasts for 3 months and then you're back out there looking for another job. Since job A is a possibility...even though it may not be at the top of your list...I say communicate with them that you're really excited about their offer. Tell them that you'd like a little bit of time to think things over but will get back to them in 2 weeks with a decision. And then go on the interview for job c next week. I want to point out that my advice is to ask the company that's already offered you a job to give you some time. My advice would be to not ask job c to move up the interview. Unless we're looking at late next week. If the interview will be done early next week then just leave it at that and wait. It's not necessarily a terrible idea to ask for an interview sooner, but they may think you're being pushy. And if that's the job you really want, I'd recommend playing it cool. So if you can afford to wait it out and Job A will give you some time...then there you go. If things don't work out with Job C and you don't have other offers, I would keep an open mind with Job A. Still doesn't seem too bad of an option. As a side note...there's always the chance that even if Job A says they'll wait and you come back to them in 2 weeks saying you'll take the could already be filled. But it sounds like job C is worth the risk. But at the end of the day, you have to decide how much of a risk you're willing to take.
posted by ljs30 at 2:26 PM on July 7, 2014

I'm going to go against the grain here and say that you should probably reconsider Job B. My hunch is that it's giving you a bad vibe because it's wildly different to what you know, rather than being inherently bad. It's also only 3 months, so at least it's not like Job A where you'd be stuck with that crappy commute indefinitely. The reason those guys at Job B are in such a hurry to get you to start is that, like you, they have financial pressures, so they need to stop faffing around and get on with things.
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 5:46 PM on July 7, 2014

If I were you, I would go with job B, and continue the interview process for job C while in job B.

If job A is a commute nightmare, it's not worth it in my experience. A long commute can suck out the energy and joy out of work and life over a long period of time.

Job C is a bird in the bush. I would still go for the interview. If it takes them 2 weeks for the first interview, it might take them another 2 weeks for a second interview. If you get the job, you just need to say that you'll be able to start within 8 weeks, which is long but it's not an unreasonable length of time to wait for the right candidate. You might possibly negotiate with company B to terminate the contract a week or two earlier (e.g. by working overtime or paying a certain penalty) to accommodate job C.

Also there are many advantages to working in a startup (you have a lot more influence, a lot less bureaucracy, etc.) and there are many advantages to working in a contract (more money, you get valuable experience from working in a different environment, etc.).

Also job B gives you the financial cushion to find the ideal job you're looking for.

If you see job B doesn't work out well within the first week or so, it would be still reasonable for you to cancel it.
posted by Sharcho at 12:35 PM on July 8, 2014

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