Juggling job offers?
November 7, 2007 11:08 PM   Subscribe

Juggling job offers? (wordy, follow-up)

I'm this guy. Since posting that question (and thanks so much for the helpful responses), I have indeed been searching for jobs. Two of the resulting leads are coming to a head, and I could use some tips.

The background:

Company A is an extremely prestigious software development firm in NYC (to which I'd love to relocate). It would be a full-time position, and really offer me a fresh start with a highly-visible, interesting project. I've passed two phone interviews, and next week I'm flying up for a final interview in person. I'm optimistic about my chances based on my feedback so far, but of course anything can happen. I would definitely prefer this job, to the point where I would turn down Company B based only on the chance of working with Company A if it came down to it.

Company B is local, sounds like a good job with good people at a good pay rate. However, it's a contract job (which I've never done before) and may end up disappearing or becoming something else entirely in 5-7 months (or, it could turn into a full-time position for all I know). This opportunity was brought to my attention through a headhunter, who told me today that they got positive feedback and expect an offer by close of business.

Which brings me to my inquiries. The first one is obvious: assuming I get an offer from Company B today, what can I tell them that might give me time to wait for a response from Company A? If I don't get the A job, I would certainly accept B, but clearly that would not be a very diplomatic thing to say.

The second question is this: Company A's recruiter told me, a long time ago, to let her know if I started to come close to an offer with another company. I assume that was so they could expedite the screening/interview process, but given the logistics of travel and scheduling, the steps that remain can't really be expedited any further. However, perhaps their response to me following next week's interview would be more prompt if they thought they were going to lose me to another company. This would put me in the ideal situation of hearing from Company A before I have to respond to Company B, if I manage to get some leeway in responding to the latter.

On the other hand, I'm not very savvy at job searching. I don't want to say something to Company A that's going to make them look upon me less favorably, and I wonder if "I'm about to get an offer from another company" so late in the process would sound like I was trying to play them, or whether they'd decide I wasn't worth fighting over.

Certainly, there are worse positions to be in, but any advice you all might have to help me make the most of this conundrum would be greatly appreciated!
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It is not uncommon for a potential employee to evaluate an offer for a week or two before deciding. Company B should know this. When they give the offer, make it clear that you will consider it, and compare it with your other offers (there is nothing wrong with letting them know that you are a hot shot). Then give Company A a little while to pan out (within whatever time window you set up with Company B). Then you will be good to go. If Company B is unwilling to allow to you consider their offer they are probably not a company you want to work for in the first place.

Best of luck!
posted by milqman at 11:53 PM on November 7, 2007

I was in a similar spot a few months ago - two job offers both wanting a reply ASAP, but I had literally no idea which one I wanted as both were wonderful for entirely different reasons.

I was honest with both places and said that I had more than one offer and was considering it. Both were quite understanding and went out of their way to accomodate me.

If they want to give you a job then they'd be willing to wait a little while to get you. It's not unreasonable to ask for some time to make a decision.

You could tell B that you're considering a few options and you'll get back to them in (timeframe), and let A know that you've had another offer and that if they're serious you need to know within (timeframe).
posted by twirlypen at 12:01 AM on November 8, 2007

Use it to your advantage. I had a friend who had two choices much like your situation. He actually told Company A how much Company B was offering him, and used it to get more money out of Company A.
posted by spiderskull at 1:04 AM on November 8, 2007

Just FWIW (as it may affect how you feel about company B), most contract jobs advertise with 'may become a full-time position...etc' - this rarely is actually true. What it usually means is they can't afford to pay contract rates (usually 2-4x salaried rates) for the length of time they need covering. The 'may turn into a full time position' is just a ploy to get interest in the job. Regular contract workers know that 5-7 months might be the only work they get all year and it needs to cover them.
posted by missmagenta at 2:20 AM on November 8, 2007

Seconding missmagenta. Unless you want a contract position for some reason (which could be "I need money right now") I would avoid it. The benefits usually suck (if they exist at all) and the chances of it turning into a full-time position are usually slim. I worked as a contract employee for 4 years and I've seen companies solicit and hire outside people without even considering the contract employees who had been doing the same job for years. I got hired on after 4 years, but that was because I have a great boss who figured out how to get me on board.
posted by cabingirl at 7:42 AM on November 8, 2007

There's nothing wrong with, at the end of your interview, stating "I'm very interested in coming to work with you. Do you have an idea when you'll be making a final decision?"

There's nothing wrong with responding to a job offer from someone by saying "I've got another interview with another firm that I had already scheduled before we interviewed and I need to complete it before I make my final decision."

There's people who will react poorly to these statements. You don't want to work for them. You're a competent individual who they'd like to have. If they can't wait a week for an answer, what does that say about them and their business process? If they're offended by someone being enthused about coming to work with them and can't stand being asked a simple question about timing, then what does that say about how their interaction with you is going to be like on other things?
posted by phearlez at 2:56 PM on November 8, 2007

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