job offer

How Do I Choose Between Two Job Offers?

iStockphoto.com |  SIphotography

iStockphoto.com | SIphotography

You’ve slogged through a competitive interview process at multiple companies and you’re ready for the job offers to start rolling in. Even better, you’ve been told you’re a finalist with two employers. Company A (we’ll call them Beam Me Up, Inc.) is a start-up developing the first teleportation machine, while Company B (We Make Flying Cars, Inc.) makes the most popular flying cars in the world. Great choices, right? It’s a great situation to have – how should you handle the multiple companies vying for your talents, and how do you decide which is the right for you? 

Consider the following scenarios: 

Scenario 1 – You receive an offer from the Beam Me Up, Inc., which is clearly your first choice. Many people use a situation like this to see if they can wrangle a better deal by pitting the two offers against each other. Think carefully before engaging this approach – the outcome of such negotiations can be unpredictable and might even work against you if it feeds a perception that you’re trying to incite a bidding war. If the offer comes up short of your expectations, you’re certainly well within your rights to try to sweeten the deal, and taking a collaborative approach with the person who extended the offer (something like, “I’d love to see if we can get to yes, I’d love to work with you!”) can help. If, on the other hand, the offer fell squarely within your expectations, it could very well be in your best interest to accept the offer outright and end your interviews with We Make Flying Cars, Inc. Start off on a positive note.

Scenario 2 – You receive an offer from We Make Flying Cars, Inc. (your second choice). But you really, REALLY want an offer from Beam Me Up, Inc. (your clear first choice). This is a delicate dance. You don’t want to settle too early on a company that, while perhaps great in its own right, is still your runner-up. Here are some steps you can take to move the process along.

Step 1: Align your expectations with We Make Flying Cars, Inc. who extended the job offer, to see if you can buy some additional time. You need to this in as collaborative and professional a manner as possible; keep it simple, thankful, and reasonable. Reach out to Human Resources and say, “Thank you very much for your offer. I do have some other factors to consider. May I have a little extra time to talk to my family and make a decision?” Then gauge the situation carefully. They may or may not be willing to extend your deadline, so proceed accordingly. Missing a hard deadline could result in a withdrawn offer.

Step 2: Reach out to the Human Resources department of Beam Me Up, Inc. to see if you can give the process a nudge. Be direct and honest. For example, “I just wanted to let you know that I received an offer from another company, but Beam Me Up is still my first choice. I believe the work you’re doing is more challenging and rewarding, and that I am an ideal cultural fit. Were the company to make an offer in the range we discussed, I would happily accept it. I look forward to hearing from you, and thank you!” The wheels of corporate bureaucracy move slowly, but a call like this can provide the essential momentum.

 

3. You receive simultaneous job offers from both companies and you have no clear preference. Make no mistake, receiving two competing offers puts you in an advantageous bargaining position and certainly provides a nice ego boost. You are indeed in a prime position to lure the two employers into a bidding war.

That said, rather than risk your good fortune and potentially jeopardize your relationship with each employer by trying to sweeten the pot, it may be better to compare each offer on its own merit and make a decision accordingly. Consider the following factors:

 

  • The Work Itself. Which role will be the most rewarding, and will help you achieve your long-term career goals? Don’t just look at the job title, since these may mean different things at different companies. Focus on the specifics of the job description, and the specific work experience and skills you will gain. We devote most of our waking hours to work – maximize the ROI on your precious time with a fulfilling career.

  • Total Compensation. The salary figure presented by an employer is almost always the primary consideration, but compensation is much, much more than just salary. Total compensation can include medical insurance, paid time off, bonuses, 401k matches, employee discounts, car allowances, and other benefits. Run the numbers – a job that pays a high base salary but makes you pay for the bulk of your medical expenses out-of-pocket or gives you minimal vacation time may be a bad deal in disguise.

  • Company Culture. Where are you going to going to feel good heading to work every day? Which employer shares your professional values? Even if all other factors of their offers are equal, company cultures and work environments – even in the same industry – can dramatically different. And don’t forget to factor in work/life balance. Get as much information as possible.

 

Once you’ve worked through the details and compared the offers, proceed carefully. Beam Me Up, Inc. and We Make Flying Cars, Inc. both believe you are lucky to get an offer from them. If you try to negotiate with the companies and come across as demanding, unreasonable, or ungrateful, or if you appear to be fostering a competition, an employer may believe their offer was a mistake and consider withdrawing it – especially if they feel like they are being played off against each other. Have your salary market data ready (pay a visit to compensation site paysa.com), do your homework, and be reasonable in your request. If you’re already being offered a compensation package above the market average, requests for more may not be well received; the converse is also true, where if you do your homework and discover you’re being offered below market average, you may have room to negotiate and improve your standing. But it’s still a precarious situation.

If Beam Me Up offers you $5,000 less than We Make Flying Cars, and you ask Beam Me Up to match their offer, you must be prepared to accept the revised offer if they meet your request. A back-and-forth between yourself and both companies will only engender ill will and may result in no offers to choose from. Keep in mind that how you handle the negotiation will be a reflection of your integrity.

Philip Roufail contributed to this article.


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, career coaching services, and outplacement services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.

We're All Replaceable – Are You Ready?

iStockphoto.com |  nytumbleweeds

iStockphoto.com | nytumbleweeds

I once read an opinion piece in the New York Times by Dan Lyons, who worked at a software company where involuntary turnover (i.e., getting fired or laid off) was the norm. The fact that you could be fired on any day, for any reason, was routine.

Rough and tumble corporate cultures are nothing new. And while not every company is a meat grinder, the truth is that deliberately tough work environments do exist, and employers aren't necessarily selling themselves as best-in-class places to work. They demand results. The social contract is simple enough: We give you a paycheck, and you work in the environment we choose to foster.

Websites like Glassdoor will show you reviews of companies' work environments by former and current employees. My guess (and it's just a guess) is that this increased level of transparency has led some companies to embrace the fact that working there isn't going to be a Shangri-La. It's kind of freeing for executive leadership, in a way - if people know you're not too worried about employee engagement, you can focus that energy on simply producing results.

Going back to the opinion piece mentioned at the beginning of this post, the detail that really caught my attention was that Lyons' employer evaluated employees in their appraisals with a metric called VORP - Value Over a Replacement Player. This is a baseball statistic that general managers use to decide when to trade or cut players. In other words, if there's a second baseman on the market who can do the same job for less, or deliver better stats at the same rate of pay, the GM has data that can support making a personnel change at moment’s notice.

This, according to the article, is transparent to employees, they can tell immediately how much the organization values them. What's scary about this is that Major League Baseball is a truly elite work environment - at any given time, there's only 750 positions available at the highest level. And these players are paid elite money to deal with this uncertainty - and to reward them for the level of performance they are expected to deliver.

The average MLB player knows the odds - there are hundreds of thousands of people competing for his job. And his career averages 5.6 years in length. Longevity isn't necessarily part of the equation.

But the fact that this practice has entered the mainstream should serve as a wake-up call to employees. We are all replaceable. There is always somebody ready to come along and do our job.

How can you prepare?

  • Be self-aware. Are your skills up to date? How about your soft skills, do you get along well with others? Your employer and coworkers are very aware of your strengths and weaknesses, and you should be, too. If you realize you're lacking in a certain area, work on developing your skill set. It's worth it.

  • Know where you stand. Have regular touch-bases with your manager. Engage in open dialogue about your performance and expectations. Make sure you're both aligned, and you know what is believed to be a personal strength or development area.

  • Keep your resume and your LinkedIn profile current. Change may come faster than you anticipate, and not necessarily on your terms. You need to be ready in case opportunity knocks.

  • Always be networking. The worst time to start building up your connections is when you need a job. Have your network in place and give it some TLC. Pay it forward - help people in your network when you're in a position to do so, so that others have a reason to give you a solid. Be nice to people – it pays dividends.


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.

Should I Tell An Employer I Have Another Job Offer?

To tell, or not to tell. That is the question. / iStockphoto.com (Siphotography)

To tell, or not to tell. That is the question. / iStockphoto.com (Siphotography)

Wouldn't it be nice if the interview process adhered to a universal timeline that all employers followed? It would certainly simplify things if you could go to interviews with all potential employers during the first week, receive your offers the following week, then weigh all your offers and share your decision the week after that.

Sadly, it doesn't work that way. Job hunting is an imperfect process, and offers tend to trickle in at different times. And employers don't necessarily want to wait for an answer while you're trying to get another company to present their offer.

So, what do you do if you're in the awkward position that you have an offer in hand from one employer (let's call it Company A), but the company you really want to work for (Company B) hasn't made their decision yet? How can you possibly make a major career decision without all the facts?

In other words, is it okay to try to hurry the process along by telling Company B you have another offer on the table?

Ask yourself the following question: If Company B – the company you really want to work for – presents you an offer, do you intend to take it?

I know, I know - there are several unanswered questions in terms of salary and other factors. But if Company B is where you'd really like to work, then it may be in your best interest to tell Company B.

It's all in the approach. Such a scenario can be a great opportunity for you to reinforce your interest in the company, portray you as an in-demand professional. A well placed, well handled call may in fact hurry the process along. Your call to Company B's recruiter or hiring manager should go something like this:

"I just wanted to call because I'm in a bit of a difficult situation. I have received an offer from another company and I owe them an answer by this Friday. However, your company is and has been my first choice, and I wanted to follow up to reiterate my interest."

Then listen, reiterate your interest, and thank them for their understanding.

You're doing Company B a favor - if you're truly their preferred candidate, they will move heaven and earth to try to provide you with a job offer. If you're not their first choice, they can do you a favor by telling you where you stand, and freeing you up to accept the offer from Company A without hesitation. Often a call like this from a candidate serves as the impetus to stop the endless interview process and move forward. Chances are they'll respect you for making this call.

What if you're annoyed that the employer is taking too long to make a decision? Is it okay to lie and tell them that you have another offer in hand - even if you don't - in order to move the process along?

It's important to realize that telling a company you have an outstanding offer from another employer is not without risk. I’ve seen the “I have another offer” strategy blow up in candidates’ faces.

Here’s why. Hiring managers don’t like to be rushed - they like to feel that they are in control of making a well-thought out decision. Sometimes this deliberation, while candidate-unfriendly, adds to the overall time of the interview process.

Bear in mind, hiring managers don’t make a decision in a vacuum. They interview several candidates looking for the right fit, and proceed from there.

I once had a hiring manager tell me, “If it’s not ‘yes,’ it’s ‘no.’” What this means is that if they’re not completely sold on the candidate, then they feel no need to make a hiring decision. The bar is high for the candidate to impress the hiring manager.

Lousy? Yes.

Reality? Also, yes.

By putting a fire under the hiring manager, you’re forcing their hand, possibly before they are ready to make a decision. And by visibly trying to take control of the situation, you may be putting the manager in the uncomfortable position of having to make a selection – in your favor – without having all the information they require or want.

If you’re truly the solution to the hiring manager’s problems, and you both agree that you are the solution the hiring manager’s problems, then you’ll probably push things forward in your favor, more quickly.

On the other hand, if you’re one of several candidates where there’s not yet a clear winner, then you may be blowing yourself out of the water. The manager may decide that your timeline and his/her timeline don’t correspond, so they’ll just cut you loose. If it’s not “yes,” it’s “no.”

I’m not saying that the hiring manager is right to proceed in this way. But you need to be prepared to deal with the psychological impact of your actions, and the results.

One more thing. If you do tell an employer you have another offer, and they accommodate you by rushing you an offer, it would be fatal for you to respond by asking for more time to weigh your options. They'll feel used, and will likely remove you from any further consideration.


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.