counteroffer

I Lied To The Recruiter, Saying I Have Another Job Offer So They Hasten Their Hiring Process. Was This A Bad Move?

iStockphoto.com |  Noppadol_Anaporn

iStockphoto.com | Noppadol_Anaporn

 

Is it a good idea to tell an employer you are consider a job offer, so that the company speeds up the hiring process? Even if you don't have one?

When I recruited, 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 pull the trigger. The bar is high for the candidate to impress the hiring manager.

Crappy? 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 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 psychology of the situation and the results.
 

This blog was originally published on Quora.


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.

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.

The Joy of Salary Negotiation

After you've sent a resume to a company, somebody in human resources will call you up to screen you for fit. Inevitably, they will ask you what you will be looking for in terms of salary.

This is where it gets tricky. It's kind of like a game of chicken – salary discussions, especially at the beginning of the process, are especially difficult because the first one to give away their position loses their leverage to negotiate.

Your goal here is not necessarily aligned to the company's goal in terms of compensation. Assuming the position is a good match for both parties, here's where your interests diverge.

Your goal as a job seeker is to get the best salary offer you can.

The company's goal is to get the best candidate into the position in the most cost-effective manner possible.

In other words - you want to get a boatload of cash; the company would rather you work there for free. The actual figure you agree upon is the reality.

Before we get into negotiation strategy, let's discuss a few facts about how corporate salaries are determined (by the way, this is a heavy simplification of the compensation process, so I'm sure that some compensation professionals out will have some information to add):

  1. Companies - especially larger ones - usually have salary bands in which employees need to fit. For a particular position, there is an assigned salary range. For example, the company may have determined that they are able to pay between $15 and $20 per hour for an administrative assistant. The reason for this is that they don't want to have too much of a salary discrepancy between individuals doing the same type of job, but they want to have some wiggle room for folks with more experience.
  2. Salaries are usually driven by market data. A company will subscribe (and often provide information) to compensation studies telling them what the market will pay for a particular job. The data take into consideration several factors - the skill set involved, competitive nature of the market, geography, what competitors are willing to pay and other information.
  3. A company decides upon a compensation philosophy. This goes back to the market data described above. After looking at the data, company executives make a decision about their compensation philosophy as to how it relates to their compensation. A company looking to aggressively hire high-performing talent or that competes in a fast-changing market like technology tends to extend offers at the higher end of the range. Other companies may look to hire at the general market salaries, tending toward the average.
  4. Companies often have less flexibility on salaries for recent graduates and entry-level hires. This applies to your newly minted MBA just as much as it does to your nephew who recently received their bachelor's degree. Companies will often have a concrete salary structure for these recent grads, with adjustments up and down for work location and the ranking for the school from which they graduated.
  5. There's a lot more to consider in the offer than just salary - benefits matter. A lot. Companies often pay a great deal of money to provide a competitive benefits package. You know that health insurance the company's offering? Not every employer subsidizes the same amount to cover that, often leaving you - the employee - to pay a larger share of your premiums or co-pays.  There are other benefits, too - dental insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, tuition reimbursement, vacation time, holidays, company car, 401(k) matches and so on - into which companies can often pay dearly. A richer benefits package leaving more money in your pocket may give an employer a viable incentive to offer a lower base salary while still helping an employee make ends meet.
  6. Variable compensation matters too. By this, I mean bonuses, profit sharing and long-term incentives. Not every job offers an incentive, which rewards the employee if they or the company has a good year. A bonus is real money, and a company's philosophy may be to offer a lower base salary in exchange for a desirable bonus target.

Here are some considerations when negotiating salary:

  • It's to your advantage to avoid giving a specific expected salary figure until it's essential.  It's not always possible to hold off - a recruiter may really push for a specific number to ensure that you fit their structures - but try. It's ideal to see if it's a good marriage before locking yourself down to a specific number - this way, you keep your leverage.
  • Sometimes ignorance can work in your favor. This isn't always true, but in certain cases it can be. If you're a recent graduate and an employer is asking you what you are looking for in terms of salary, it's okay to say, "I don't have a specific figure in mind, I am looking for a compensation package that is in line for a recent graduate with an MBA from my university." A similar approach also works well if you know you've been underpaid against the market, saying something like, "I'm looking for a salary that is in line with my experience and education."
  • The employer may really push to find out your salary expectations. In which case, you may wish to consider taking a slightly different approach with your answer - "In my current position I have been earning $x, I am looking for a salary that will take into consideration the accomplishments and experiences I gained in my present role." You're not telling the employer you are asking for a specific figure - you're giving an idea of where you've been.
  • Sometimes it doesn't matter what you want. See #4 above - the company may pay EVERYBODY the same for a certain job. You have the choice of taking or leaving the offer.
  • Ask about the benefits. A rich benefits package has real cash value. Consider what you're being offered as part of the perqs as part of the total compensation.
  • A sign-on bonus may make up the difference. There are times when a company really wants to get you on board, but their salary bands (or some other reason) may prevent them from offering a higher salary. Or maybe you are walking away from a bonus at your current job. A sign-on bonus might help close the gap during that first year.
  • Be sincere in your negotiations. Assuming this is true - tell the corporate recruiter that you really want to make this work and that company x is clearly your first choice. Perhaps you are willing to meet somewhere in the middle of what was offered and what you asked for - tell them. The more you can make the recruiter feel that this is a partnership designed to meet a common goal, the better.
  • The choice is ultimately yours. You don't have to accept the job at the salary offered just because the company offers you the position. If you've negotiated in good faith, then you should be able to walk away from an offer with no hard feelings. Which leads me to one last point...
  • Avoid getting into the negotiations for counter-offers with your current employer.  It's not recommended - find out why here.

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. He is a Human Resources professional and staffing expert with almost two decades of in-house corporate HR and staffing firm experience, and is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC).

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.