How to deal with possibly competing job offers?
November 10, 2017 8:16 AM   Subscribe

I'm thinking ahead because I haven't gotten an offer yet but I'm gonna have a big dilemma if Company A makes me an offer next week, because I want the job at Company B but I haven't had the final interview yet.

First, I'm in Milwaukee and I've been unemployed since March. But I want to move to Colorado. I applied for Milwaukee jobs with the plan of saving a bunch of money and then transferring to a Colorado office (or working remotely) next year.

Company A is in Milwaukee and I had my final interview a few days ago. They are supposed to give me a decision next week. It would likely be waaaay more money than I've ever made in my life. It's a good company with good working conditions. I think I have a good shot at it.

Company B is exactly where I want to live in Colorado. I had the HR screening today and it looks like I'll definitely make it to the final interview next week. She wouldn't give me a firm timeline on when they want someone to start. It's a big company and it's rated lower than company A on Glassdoor but there were no red flags. They seem to pay about what my last job did, but that's a fine trade-off if I get to live my Colorado dreams.

So - what happens if I get an offer from A next week, but haven't had an interview (or decision) with B yet? Even if the interview with B goes well, I may not know for another couple weeks and I can't drag A out that long. Company A wants to fill the position ASAP because someone is retiring.

I know that it's ethically shitty to accept A's offer and then bail on them if company B wants to hire me. But Wisconsin is an at will state and corporations aren't loyal to their employees either. These companies are in different industries and headquartered in different states; how likely is it that it would hurt me in the future? What should I do?
posted by AFABulous to Work & Money (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You get an offer from A.
You ask for a reasonable amount of time of a few days to consider the offer. You ask a lot of questions about benefits and you also make counter offers to negotiate pay. You drag your heels in getting the signed offer back to them. (also read any terms of the offer)

This buys you time, at which during your B interview you ask what their timeline is for hire and politely inform them that you currently have a pending offer you are considering. Although B is your strongest choice, you can only delay A for X days.

If you need more time, you negotiate a start date with Company A some more time out (i.e. A month from now). If B comes through, you thank A and withdraw.

You will look bad to A but it's unlikely to affect you across industries and states.
posted by Karaage at 8:27 AM on November 10, 2017 [6 favorites]

I really hope this comes to pass for you! Two job offers puts you in a far better negotiating position than one. Just don't overplay your hand before you have the actual offers in front of you.

If you get a job offer from Company A, they will likely not require an on-the-spot decision from you (and if they do, there's something weird and off about that). Most likely, they'll email you an offer and you can respond within a reasonable amount of time. If they make an offer in person, it is 100% normal and expected for you to say something like, "Thank you so much, I am going to take this home to review it carefully." Often the offer is only the first step in negotiations that can last for some days or weeks -- you can ask about benefits, negotiate a higher base rate, etc. -- so if you're fortunate enough to get an offer, you can likely draw the process out a bit to wait for word from Company B.

If Company B makes an offer as well, you can use the existence of Company A's offer to negotiate with Company B. The best time to do this is after Company B makes an offer -- in this case, you can directly negotiate compensation and benefits (including, for instance, relocation assistance).

If you feel confident that you've had a great set of interviews with Company B and you're running short on time to answer Company A, you might be able to bring it up with Company B, but it's riskier at that point. See if you can wait until you feel pretty certain that Company B is interested in hiring you. In this case, I'd recommend a softer approach -- something like, "Thank you again for your time at Monday's interview. I am truly excited about [aspects of Company B and your role there that you discussed]. I did want to let you know that I've received a competitive offer from another company with a deadline of [date] to respond; I am still most interested in pursuing [position] with Company B, and so I'm wondering if you can give me any insight on your hiring timeline." You won't be able to push very hard in this case, but if they really want you, this will give them a chance to bid on you (and let them know that you're a desirable candidate that has other options). Once you have a job offer in hand from both companies, you can then negotiate using those.
posted by ourobouros at 8:35 AM on November 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Note: the person I would be replacing at Company A is retiring on December 1, which is why they are in such a hurry. They were very certain they would contact me early next week (i.e. the 13th or 14th) with a decision. I believe they are looking for a start date of November 20th or 27th. I don't know if Company B would make a decision by then.
posted by AFABulous at 8:42 AM on November 10, 2017

It sounds like the timeline is tight, but if you can delay Company A's answer until after Company B's final interview next week (11/17 -- perfectly reasonable answering timeline for Company A), that should still work. You can contact Company B about Company A's offer as soon as you've done that final interview, provided it goes well.
posted by ourobouros at 8:52 AM on November 10, 2017

I think the Thanksgiving holiday is in your favor, here. Lots of folks have plans over Thanksgiving week, so I wouldn't even count it as a business week for your timeline. It, unfortunately, may also impact your hearing from Company A, too.
posted by jillithd at 8:54 AM on November 10, 2017 [4 favorites]

Their desired start date =/= your ability to start date. You have a right to negotiate this and if they want you badly enough they won't lose you over a few weeks.
posted by Karaage at 8:56 AM on November 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

I second pretty much all the advice already given. Especially that if a company would ever withdraw an offer over you starting a few weeks later that is a huge red flag.

Negotiations are essential for getting your fair value and can be used to slow down the process quite a bit.
posted by Cogito at 9:14 AM on November 10, 2017

If Company B is doing multiple interviews the week before Thanksgiving, it's unlikely that they'll give you a decision until after the week of Thanksgiving at the earlist. How tight is your budget at this point? If your savings are close to depleted, take Job A if they offer it to you. If Company B does extend an offer to you after you start the new job, decide whether it's worth leaving Company A at that point.

As to whether it will come back to bite you - probably a little bit. A lot of corporate employers are pulling job history records that would show a short stint at a company. Given a tossup between two potential employees that are neck in neck, I'll hire one that hasn't done so as a tie breaker. And while it's not right to do for them to do so, you do have to consider whether someone that's transphobic would use that as justification not to hire you down the line.

But it's not an absolute black mark either - good employers know that sometimes people are a bad fit for a job or that sometimes an offer that allows moving comes along and the person just has to take it.
posted by Candleman at 9:33 AM on November 10, 2017

Response by poster: Hm, a strong point in company A's favor is that they are 110% pro-LGBTQ and have gone to the mat for a trans employee, while B is an unknown quantity (just because Colorado has strong laws doesn't mean they follow them).
posted by AFABulous at 10:39 AM on November 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

I applied for Milwaukee jobs with the plan of saving a bunch of money and then transferring to a Colorado office (or working remotely) next year.

What are your feelings regarding doing that with company A? Because if it pays that well, maybe hanging around for another year would be worth doing.
posted by trig at 12:14 PM on November 10, 2017

As a hiring manager, even if someone shows up to work, even if they work for a week, there's nothing stopping them from saying "this hasn't really worked out, sorry, I have a family issue" and leaving and never coming back. It's happened before. There's technically 0 consequence if you don't list them on your resume.
posted by bbqturtle at 12:22 PM on November 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

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