A Bird in the Hand: What to Do When Waiting on Multiple Offers

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Recently, a client told me that her long, arduous job search was finally paying off. She was told by one nonprofit organization (organization A) that she would be receiving an offer the next morning. She was excited but was also very interested in another organization as well. She had already conducted several interviews with organization B that went well from her perspective, but she wasn’t told when they would be making a final decision.

She wanted to know what she should say to the hiring manager for organization A when she calls with the offer and if there were anything she could do regarding organization B to nudge them along.

Of course, the first thing I said was “Congratulations!” Receiving an offer for a job you like is great. Getting multiple offers is even better. But clearly she faced the dilemma of not wanting to lose the bird in hand and still desiring a choice of offers.

Here’s my advice: Assuming the offer from organization A is attractive, thank the hiring manager and respond with enthusiasm, and then ask for time to consider it. In fact, one should always ask for time to evaluate an offer even if not expecting another one. It is extremely rare that an organization would demand an answer on the spot. Unless they have a close #2 candidate, they can wait a bit for you to make a decision. They really don’t want to go out and start the search all over again.

Try to ask for as much time as possible up to a week. They may very well balk at this much time, and there may be some negotiation regarding your response time. Be prepared to give your answer at the agreed upon time.

Once armed with organization A’s offer in hand, contact organization B to notify them that another organization has made an offer, that you are still very interested in them, but need to respond to organization A very soon. Be careful that you are conveying only the facts and not being pushy. If organization B is leaning toward making an offer, this may act as a catalyst. It will let them know that others are interested in you, that you are sought after, which makes you even more attractive to them—just like dating. Hopefully organization B will be able to quicken its pace and move the process forward in time. If not, you still have your original offer.

Mauri Schwartz Head Shot 1 B&W v2 - 2014-0806

Mauri Schwartz, President and CEO of Career Insiders, is a leading figure in the San Francisco Bay Area career and talent management community. Career Insiders consults with companies and nonprofit organizations regarding executive recruitment as well as outplacement for all employee levels, and job seeker services for individual clients. In addition to her outstanding success rate in helping clients achieve their career goals, Mauri is a frequent speaker at conferences, job fairs, and career panels. She has served as Adjunct Advisor of Career Services at the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley where she received her MBA and delivered seminars at other universities (Tulane, Mills, San Francisco State, others), nonprofits, and businesses.  Mauri’s motivational style uses techniques that combine old fashioned interpersonal relationship building skills with the latest technological tools.  Career Insiders has been certified by the City and County of San Francisco as a woman-owned business.

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