What to do when you get the job – but you’re waiting on another one

balancing multiple job offers

It seems as though you’ve gone through the worst of it – perfecting your resume, meeting for various interviews and sweating through the waiting period after each one. But the results are finally in and you got a job offer – the only problem? It isn’t the job you were hoping for. Before you decide to sign, consider these do’s and don’ts of balancing multiple job offers.

Before signing the first job offer

Don’t: Sign the job offer out of fear of being unemployed or because you want a safety net.

Signing a job offer when you know perfectly well that you’re holding out for something better is generally a bad idea. While you may feel safe having a fallback option, your decision making process will get much more difficult if you do end up receiving the offer you originally wanted. Accepting an offer just to accept one is only a good idea if you know you have no other option. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck in a job you aren’t passionate about and you’ll later regret not waiting.

Do: Consider the consequences.

The professional world – especially that of finance – is a small one. If you do decide to renege on a job offer for a better opportunity, it can have detrimental effects on both your reputation and career. Blackballing is not an unheard of business practice, and while some may argue that most employers are not vindictive enough to destroy someone’s career, there’s really no need to risk suffering that consequence.

The best way to avoid reneging is to avoid signing that first offer. If possible, a good (but temporary) solution is to negotiate for more time from the first company to make your decision. Express your enthusiasm and appreciation, but ask if you can speak to more people in the company to do a little due diligence.

Not only is this a good practice to ensure you would be a good fit, but you’ll have more time to make a decision without tarnishing your career or integrity. However, don’t forget to set a timeline and stick to it. If you say you’ll have your answer by Wednesday, have your answer by Wednesday.

If you’ve already signed the first job offer, then get offered a second one

Don’t: Renege on an offer for minor or incremental differences between positions.

Of course, it is always easier said than done when it comes to turning down a job at your dream company. However, as mentioned earlier, reneging on a job offer has serious consequences. Not only can it ruin your reputation within that company, but it could prevent recruiters in the industry from reaching out to you in the future. The absolute worst case scenario? The company you reneged on calls the other company, leading to the latter rescinding their offer.

With all the potential damage to your career, don’t renege on an offer for a job that would only be marginally better. If the pay, benefits and growth opportunities within the companies are about equal, it’s probably not worth considering a risky career move just for the sake of a company’s name. Chances are, you can score another interview with them down the line, only this time you’ll be backed with more experience.

Do: Weigh your options carefully.

Be sure that the second offer is a significant improvement over the first. Consider each factor, such as salary, culture fit, advancement opportunities, etc. before making your decision.

Let the second company know that you’ve already accepted another offer. It’s important that they are kept updated since some companies will refuse to continue the interviewing process if you’ve already committed to another job. Always have a legitimate reason if they ask why you’re still interviewing, whether it be the wrong cultural fit or differing job responsibilities.

If you decide to renege on the first offer…

Don’t: Lie or make up excuses.

Understand that the company will likely be angry and while you’ve already burned a bridge or two, lying or making up excuses will only make the situation worse. If you claim to be reneging for “personal reasons” and the company finds out you’ve actually taken another job offer (and they likely will), you have proven yourself to be dishonest in addition to unreliable.

Do: Apologize sincerely and give an honest and upfront explanation.

While reneging on a job offer is often looked down upon, it does happen and sometimes for good reason. If this is the case, the best thing for you to do is to be honest with the company.

Understand that you’ve caused them a major hiring setback and that they’ve wasted time, effort and money recruiting you. Apologize accordingly, and be sure to give an honest and clear explanation as to why you’ve changed your mind.

Fielding job offers can be tricky, but it’s important to maintain professionalism during every step of the process. As you formulate a decision, keep in mind the impact of your choices and strive to preserve all your professional relationships along the way. The business world is smaller than it seems and your reputation is just as important as your qualifications.

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