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What to do if you have a job offer, but hope to get another

If you are fortunate enoungh to have multiple job offers:

This situation is not uncommon for job seekers who have multiple job offers:

  • You have an offer from employer B.
  • You've gone through the interview process with employer A, and you're hoping for an offer. You really want the job with employer A.
  • B has given you a deadline, perhaps two weeks from the offer date.
  • You haven't heard from A, and you might not until near or after B's deadline.
  • You'd rather work for A, but B has given you a great offer, and you don't want to turn that down if A doesn't want you.
  • What to do?

The approach toward a solution:

  • First, never accept an offer and then back out later. That's called reneging, and it is highly unethical, inappropriate, and is very disturbing to employers, who do talk to each other. You may hear opinions that it's okay, but it is not. Ask yourself what your ethical standards are.
  • Without delay, call employer A and let your contact know the situation. Keep your information simple and factual regarding the offer from B. You don't have to mention organization B's name, but you might be asked. Reiterate to employer A that you really want to work for A. Ask where you stand in the evaluation process and if there is any possibility to have definitive information from A before B's deadline, and if not, when that might be. Your goals are to diplomatically learn more about your status with A, let A know your interest in them, and perhaps stimulate A to speed up their process if they really want you.
  • Next, without delay, call employer B. Express your appreciation for the offer. Indicate that you don't yet have all the information you need to make your decision. Good organizations will want you to make a well-informed decision and they are aware job seekers are looking at multiple options. If A will give you a final decision by or shortly after B's deadline, you have the option to ask B for a deadline extension — just don't wait until the last minute. Remember, B can say yes or no to your request but you won't know until you ask. See how to request an extension of time to respond to an offer. Your goal is to maintain your good relationship with B, and perhaps gain some time to make your decision.
  • The bottom line is to be as honest as you can while being diplomatic, and treating everyone with respect. Maintaining good relationships with organizations and individuals will serve your long-term career success.

If you have more questions, or need additional advice, please use our advising services.