Ask LH: What’s The Best Way To Juggle Competing Job Offers?

Dear Lifehacker, I’ve recently relocated to London for a year or two and am looking to start work. Most of my applications have been via recruiters who have responded with a range of roles. I’m interviewing for a couple of jobs this week but one is about 90 minutes away in another city and the other sounds like good work but the organisation might not be the right cultural fit for me.

A third job is also in progress that sounds great in terms of responsibilities, location and salary but I’m worried I may be offered one of the other roles first. Can you provide some advice on juggling competing job offers (I need to pay the bills!) or how I could gracefully accept the role I really want if it is offered to me after I have agreed to work in a less ideal position? Thanks, Career Confused

Dear CC,

Receiving two or more job offers is a good dilemma to have — it gives you the opportunity to negotiate and truly make a decision about what is best for you and your future. The tricky part is landing the role you want most without pissing everyone else off.

When you’re offered a new job, it usually doesn’t hurt to ask for a few days to consider. The amount of time they’re willing to give you will depend on the industry sector, the unique skills you bring to the table and how urgently the position needs to be filled.

As a general rule of thumb, 48 hours isn’t unreasonable; especially if the job is a long distance from the CBD. (If they demand an immediate answer, perhaps this isn’t the kind of workplace you’d want to be a part of anyway.)

Even after informally accepting the position, you should still be able to stall them for an extra day while you review the work contract. With any luck, the other prospective employers will get back to you in the interim.

If you don’t hear back from the others before your acceptance deadline, you could always contact them yourself and explain that you’ve been offered a different position and thus require an answer. The fact you’re apparently in “hot demand” and demonstrably prefer their company might even work in your favour. At the very least, you’ll get a pretty good idea of whether you were ever seriously in contention.

On the flip side, if you start the new job and then decide to accept a better offer, your employer isn’t likely to be terribly pleased – any training they invested in you will have been wasted and they’ll probably have to go through the whole interview process again.

That said, there’s not a lot they can do about it provided you give a reasonable amount of notice (four weeks is typical, although this may not be required while on probation). Whatever your contract stipulates, tell your employer as early as possible to keep things amicable.

Just be aware that some businesses have non-compete clauses which restrict employees from working for rivals for a set period of time – so read the contract carefully before accepting any position. Otherwise, try not to succumb to pressure on the spot and don’t start any job that makes you feel trapped. You can also find plenty of in-depth advice in the linked articles below. Good luck!

If any job-hopping readers have additional advice of their own, let CC know in the comments section below.

See also: How To Accept And Decline Job Offers | An Employer’s Opinion On How To Quit Your Job | How To Quit Your Job With Your Contacts, Credentials And Class Intact | How Do I Quit A Job I Just Started?


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