When opportunity knocks, we are told to let our door swing right open. But when there are multiple offers beckoning, the process becomes a little murkier.
You’ve put in the work and the countless hours of relentless job-hunting. You’ve polished off seventeen different cover letters and examined each one twice before sending it off to the elusive “Hiring Manager”. You’ve also somehow managed to plow through your university’s job board in its entirety. Twice. You know you’ve had an efficient job hunt, and now it’s time to reap the rewards.
So you’re one of the lucky ones to have received two offers of employment… or three, four, maybe more. Admittedly, there are worse problems to have. But it’s a tricky situation for anyone, and here’s a formula to tackle it.
Be honest about your other offer from the get-go
When done wrong, playing with multiple offers is a twisted waiting game with an endless string of complex formalities. The best rule of action is to be transparent and honest from the start. If a company does ask, do disclose that you have another offer on the table.
If you feel it is appropriate, you may want to share certain details about the other job (salary, if it is higher, for example). A common concern amongst some students is that entertaining multiple offers suggests you are less passionate or committed to a particular job posting. This should not be a serious concern. Good employers understand that you’re in the market for a job, and it’s in your best interest to pursue all your opportunities comprehensively.
You may have to send a few more emails here and there, but being honest from the get-go will help prevent any awkward mishaps and unprofessional blunders. At worst, you still have the other offer; and at best, they up your salary to match the other job or expedite the process for you.
Stay enthusiastic and keep an open mind
It may become clearer to you that one offer is superior to the other towards the end. Although you may be leaning towards one offer, do not reveal this to your potential employer until you have decided for good. It is important to be professional and enthusiastic in pursuing any job, so shy away from premature judgements or declarative statements before it’s in writing. You never know if circumstances may change.
So don’t close that door, unless you’re absolutely sure it’s not right for you. Always be gracious when you receive an offer, and demonstrate your interest in the role throughout the entire hiring process… even if you’re not totally feeling it.
Try to buy yourself as much time as possible to make your decision
For both parties, the greatest constraint will always be time. Perhaps you haven’t had enough time to consider your options or maybe you are still waiting on a reply from another company. This is OK. There is no need to be hasty.
Just ask for more time to decide. Your deliberation time is their hiring time, so remember to be considerate of their deadlines. Most employers will have a certain degree of flexibility with hiring timelines, so find that sweet spot.
Don’t burn your bridges
After you have finally made your decision, it is inevitable that you will have to turn down an offer (or few). I can’t stress enough that the industry is a small world of interconnected people. Although you may not pursue the company at this time, the future is unpredictable. The company could grow, you may switch industries, and you may need their help. The hiring manager would have spent hours assessing your application, contacting your references, and interviewing you.
Show common courtesy and follow-up kindly. A short and sweet message can end the relationship on a good note. Sincerely thank them for the offer and their time. Provide a brief reason for your choice if it is appropriate and end your message with an open-ended “stay in touch”.
Thank you so much for the gracious offer for the Equity Analyst position.
After visiting the office and speaking with Karen, I was really impressed with your company and the quality of your work.
It was an extremely difficult decision and after many hours of deliberation, I have decided to pursue a role at another company. Their location is a lot closer to my house and their hours are a lot more flexible, which is much more convenient for me at this time.
Again, thank you for your time, and I hope we can cross paths in the future.
Letting people down is never easy. Turning down an offer is arguably the toughest part of the process. But remember, there is a reason why you made that decision, so make the most of your new opportunity!