Would You Accept Today’s Job Offer If Tomorrow’s Might Be Better?

nbv8ejI need your advice. For a friend, not for me. (I’m quite happy with my job!)

A friend of mine has been applying for jobs, and he got an offer today. He actually missed the phone call–the offer is on his voice mail. He hasn’t called back yet, and the organization didn’t give him a deadline, just, “Call us back when you get this message.” That kind of thing.

So that’s great. But the quandary is that my friend has applied for several jobs, and he actually has an interview with a different company next week. He would slightly prefer to work for that company, but it’s a complete unknown as to whether or not he’ll get an offer from them.

What is the right thing to do in this situation? I’ve been trying to figure it out. The only situation like this I’ve been in is where I got a job offer but didn’t have the prospect of another job. I was unsure about the job, so I asked for a few days to think about it. The company granted me that time, but I don’t think they were happy about it.

It’s the uncertainty factor that makes this really difficult. If my friend knew for sure that he was or wasn’t getting a job from the company next week, he could make a perfectly informed decision. But he doesn’t have that luxury.

He could try to calculate the odds of getting the new job and do a quantitative analysis based on his expected happiness at job A versus job B. That’s probably what my business school professors would do.

Or he could call company B tomorrow, tell them that he has a job offer on the table but that he would honestly prefer to work with them. Maybe they’d give him a chance to accelerate the process and do the interview tomorrow. He could probably stall until Monday to call back company B.

What do you think he should do?

8 Responses to “Would You Accept Today’s Job Offer If Tomorrow’s Might Be Better?”

  1. Nikolaus Stein says:

    Call company A and tell them you are very interested but need to give notice at current job and finalize a couple of things. Call company B and tell them you really want to work for them but you’ve been made an offer that you are having trouble passing up. Ask if there is any chance to interview earlier. If not, screw em. Take the job with the company that wants you but when discussing the details make sure to tell them you are very interested but you’ve multiple opportunities lined up but you are looking forward to coming to a fair and equitable agreement. Just lie to everyone.

  2. Sean says:

    I was just in this exact situation, but I am graduating from College in May, and both Companies were hiring for jobs in May, so the situation may differ, I’ve added some details and time frames here in case that helps as well. There was a job fair early September, and I got two interviews from companies A & B for the day after the job fair.

    Over the course of the next month I was in contact with Company A and set up a trip with them to visit on the West coast. The Thursday before my trip I got an offer to visit the east coast and interview with Company B near the middle of September. Company A’s trip went well and I got a day to do some sightseeing.

    I set up the trip with Company B as well. I got an offer back from Company A, and they initially gave a two week deadline. My interview with Company B was at the end of the deadline. I informed them that I had an interview setup that I wanted to see through and if I could get another week to decide, they said yes.

    I did the other trip, had a great at a little night before dinner/drinks with company bosses/execs, and a good interview. When asked I told one of the interviewers about my deadline. I had planned on telling my recruiter via email the next day. The Monday following I had an offer from Company B, with a deadline from Company A as Friday.

    I also had an interview in that time with company C, but have not heard back from them, and they are presenting in my class Today/Friday. That should be interesting.

    Ultimately I decided on going with Company B, and will have a job in Chicago in May as a traveling IT consultant in the Midwest.

    In my case because it was a set event with multiple interviewees I decided not to try and change the date with Company B, If this is a local job, he might not have that much of a problem. Both companies were willing to work with me on the deadlines, however it was just an adjustment of a week.

    So in my case I’d stall till Monday, and then ask for a specific deadline. Do what I did, tell them they’ve got an interesting offer from another company, and if they could have till Wednesday the 16th to decide. If the interview is early next week, tell them there, if its later, give them a heads up. If both companies want him, they should be able to be flexible in that time frame.

  3. T-Mac says:

    I didn’t read the other comments, but here’s what I can offer from 2 perspectives:
    (1) I’ve been working for a company with a good culture for quite a while, so I have the perspective of how I’d speak with a good company.
    (2) We’ve hired quite a few people in the past year, so I can speak from the company perspective.

    To Company A (job offer on the table): My career is a very important decision. I plan to work here for a long time, so I want to be certain that it’s the best fit for me and my family. May I give you a final decision by X date?
    Perspective: good companies expect highly sought after candidates to have more than one opportunity, and they’re willing to wait for the good ones, particularly as you get higher up the chain. Professionals cannot simply drop everything and make a life decision immediately. A good company views the recruiting/hiring process as finding the best mutual fit. The one thing I would not do is lie to the company. It’s never good to start a professional relationship with a lie.

    To Company B (potentially more appealing opportunity): I have an offer for another opportunity, but I want to be able to consider the role at company B before I make a career decision. May we move my interview forward to sometime between now and X date?
    Hiring perspective: if the company thinks you’re among the best candidates, they should be able to accommodate such a request.

    One other note–if your friend has an offer from a company, that is often just the first step in a negotiation. Most companies expect a candidate to review the offer and to attempt to negotiate some aspect of the offer–benefits, time off, salary, additional incentives. They also know that it’s ok to negotiate to a “final offer” and for the person to then still accept another job. It happens. Also, it’s perfectly fine for a candidate to ask for something outside of the parameters of the company’s recruiting process. For instance, if a company didn’t offer me the opportunity to talk to anyone besides the recruiter and hiring manager, there is no way I’d accept a job without asking to talk to some of the people who’d be my peers to ask them what it’s like to work there from their perspectives. I’d say something like, “The culture of a company is so important. To be certain that this is the best fit for both of us, may I set up a time to get to know a few of the people who’d be on my team once I start?” Normally I’d do this before getting to the offer stage, but if your friend hasn’t done that, I’d still recommend it.

  4. Stephen says:

    Nikolaus’s and Sean’s advice are probably best for this specific situation (Communicate, basically.), but it is weirdly reminiscent of The Secretary Problem: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secretary_problem (Where the ‘solution’ is ‘see first 35% of offers, then go for the first one that matches or is better than the best you’ve already seen’ – though obviously this sort of analysis is based on highly artificial situations, whereas in the real world… See Nikolaus’s and Sean’s advice.)

  5. Jamey Stegmaier says:

    These are awesome insights! Thank you so much. My friend will definitely be reading these comments.

  6. Dionne says:

    I am a career counselor and have been asked this plenty of times. I agree with what your readers have advised, but that’s because they are working in industries that are fighting for talent. In less demanding industries, like education, you may not find such willingness on the part of the employer to be flexible with deadlines.

  7. Katie James says:

    I want to know how your friend ended up handling this situation and what the outcome was! Update, please! 🙂

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