One of the side effects of conducting a proactive, targeted job search is you can end up with multiple job interviews going at the same time. While it's a good problem to have, it can also be difficult to figure out how to navigate the process. Especially, if you receive a job offer from one company but are waiting to hear about another offer from a company you like better.
Similar to Dating, You Need to Be Careful How Much You Reveal
I work with job seekers on a daily basis who message me something that goes like this:
"J.T., I'm pretty sure I'm going to get a job offer today from Company A. But, my dream employer, Company B, is still in the interview process. Should I tell Company A I can't accept their offer until I finish the interview process with Company B?"
My answer is "NO." You don't tell an employer that has just let you know you're their first choice that they are your second choice. Imagine asking someone on a date and they said, "Yes, but only if the person I really want to go out with doesn't ask me out for the same night." How would you feel? Not good. Now, before you start telling me you can't handle the stress of juggling this process, let me tell you a story...
"It's Not Personal, It's Just Business" Works Both Ways
Years ago, I had a client who had a long, successful track record as a VP. He was between jobs because his last employer had been acquired and the leadership team was let go as part of the merger. He was in the final stages of two job interviews. He was given a strong offer from one company but was really excited and passionate about the products the other company sold. Thus, he was hoping they would offer him a job too. However, they couldn't make their final decision for another week. I advised him to tell the first company he needed to review the written offer for 24 hours to make sure he didn't have any questions and concerns before accepting. I explained he could then notify the other company that he had a written offer in hand and wanted to see if they could tell him if he was still in running for their job so he could decide what to do. Instead of listening to me, he called the company that offered him the job and explained he was in the interview process with another employer and felt the right thing to do was to wait to compare the two offers. He said he told them, "It's not personal, it's just business." He told me he thought the call went really well and that the employer said "no problem" and to let them know once he had made his decision. He went to bed happy but woke up miserable. Why? In his email inbox that next morning, he found a blunt note from the first company rescinding the job offer. They had discussed it and decided if they weren't his first choice, they'd rather find a candidate who was. They even closed with, "As you said, it's not personal, it's just business."
So, What Should You Do?
As I mentioned above, it is okay to tell an employer you need 24 hours to review the employment agreement to ensure you have no questions before accepting. This gives you time to check in with the other employer. It also lets you build a case negotiate for more money should you feel the salary isn't where it should be. If the second employer says you are in the running, I suggest you accept the job that's been offered and keep interviewing with the other employer. Why?
Because one of three outcomes is possible:
A) You keep interviewing and find out you don't like the second employer as much as you thought and are glad you accepted the first offer.
B) You get knocked out of the running and are relieved to have accepted the first offer.
C) You get the second job offer and have to decide whether taking a job with your dream employer is worth burning a bridge with the first employer.
In all three options, the upside is you have a job! Whereas, telling an employer too soon in the process could leave you without one. Today, you are a business-of-one that must navigate the process of finding the right customer with finesse. Creating a win-win situation for yourself is what it's all about. Businesses do it for themselves, and so should you.