How to Tell An Employer About Competing Job Offers
Having competing job offers is generally considered a great problem to have. It means that multiple companies are interested in working with you and that you’ve proven yourself to be a competitive candidate. However, there are a few things you should consider as you navigate this process, from how to keep both companies in play while exploring your options to whether to tell each company about other offers you’ve received.
It may seem tricky, but we’ve broken down the steps to make sure that you’re able to juggle everything without dropping the ball, and that you end up with the internship or entry-level job you want.
Step 1: Make sure your offers are in writing.
A verbal offer is not an official offer. Before you attempt to negotiate with various companies, you need to make sure their offers are in writing — outlining not only base salary but other important benefits like health insurance, vacation days and flexibility.
If you’ve only received a verbal offer, contact the hiring manager, recruiter or HR representative that you’ve been interacting with to firm up the offer. Consider saying, “This all looks great. I’m looking forward to reviewing all of the offer details. When can I expect to receive a written offer?”
Step 2: Don’t accept an offer if you may back out. Instead, extend the timeline.
Let’s say Company A just gave you an offer, but your top choice – Company B – has yet to finalize their offer in writing. Company A is pressuring you to get back to them with your final decision. What do you do?
Ideally, you want more time. Unless you think asking for more time would be so damaging that it could put your offer at risk, it’s worth saying, “I’m very excited about this offer and the chance to join Company A. I know that you asked for my response by Tuesday, but there’s a lot to consider here. Could I have until Thursday to communicate my final decision?”
It’s possible that Company A may decline your extension request, in which case you have to make a choice to either 1) accept Company A’s offer without knowing the outcome of Company B’s offer or 2) decline Company A while banking on Company B’s offer. While it might be enticing to accept Company A’s offer while also keeping the door open for Company B, accepting and then rescinding an offer could easily burn bridges. It’s best to avoid that scenario if possible.
Pro Tip: A final option, and one we recommend, is to reach out to Company B and tell them about your situation. Let them know that they’re your first choice but that you’re under a deadline to make a decision. If they’re planning to make an offer, this will
Step 3: Carefully time when you’ll inform each company about the other offers.
If you’re going to inform Company B about Company A’s offer, it’s best to do so in the final interview or final follow-up, once you’ve had a chance to gauge where you stand relative to competing candidates. That said, you don’t want companies thinking you’ve pitted them against one another in a salary war. You could run the risk of having your original offer pulled if you mishandle this conversation.
Only if you’re feeling confident in the offers and your ability to manage the conversation carefully, should you go ahead and share this information. The goal here is to get all of the offers on the table at the same time for you to consider them and maximize your chance to make the best decision.
Say something like:“I’m very excited about the opportunity to work for Company B, especially the ability to have an impact. Company B is by far my top choice, but I have just received another offer this week at a company that would allow me to build out a different skillset. They asked for my response in a few days, and I was wondering when I could anticipate to find out Company B’s final decision. Thank you again for a great interview process, and I very much look forward to hearing your response.”
Step 4: Show appreciation.
Wrapping up your communication with a company should be done with grace and tact. Showing sincere appreciation for the hiring managers involved respects the time and energy they invested in your hiring process. When you’re ready to turn down one of the job offers, find out the right way to turn down a job offer.
With this tricky part of the journey managed, you’ll be ready to dive into your new job.