While I don't want to count my chickens before they roost, I may soon (within the next week or so) have two job offers.

While I can see myself accepting either offer and succeeding at either job. I also see this as an opportunity to either solidify one offer over another or ruin both.

Do you have any advise for how I should proceed? What are the protocols for handling multiple offers effectively?

John Michael Miller



scm2423's picture

At this point there is nothing you can do so don't even worry about it.  If you do get an offer you have to make the descision of 1) accept or reject  or 2) stall on the chance that a second offer comes in.  The problem with 2) is that it may cost you the first offer.  Are you willing to risk that?

jhack's picture

At this point, you have zero offers.  Yes, things look good, and you have zero offers.  

If you don't have the interview series (, you might still consider investing in it.  There's a podcast that deals with handling offers (including multiple ones).  It's a real bargain. 

Without giving away their material for free,  I can say that you shouldn't try to manage or game the system.  Judge each offer on its merits, know the pluses and minuses of each, and don't count anything before it's real. 

I disagree with Mr Happy on option 2:  don't stall.  It could cost you both offers.  

John Hack

pdata's picture

At this point it appears that one offer may precipitate the other, so stalling may not be nessecary.


pdata's picture

This is certainly good advise and the investment for the interviewing series may well be worth the investment if it results in a significantly better offer from either employer. But that's hard for me to judge from the description.

Does it address the following questions:

Should I notify each potential employer that I'm considering other offers? Is so, what is the best approach? If not, why not?

I'm not looking to game the system per se, but if I was the employer and if I really didn't want to lose a candidate (I'm speculating here I know I have nothing at the moment) I would want an opportunity to compete with other offers, wouldn't you? In this light I feel obligated to notify let them know that I'm entertaining other offers.

I'm possibly entering the most important phase of my search where I have the most leverage and my window of opportunity is very small.


jhack's picture

 The podcast on "handling offers" covers that situation, including what to say.  Many members have found the series to be quite valuable; it's also a great resource for hiring managers:

John Hack

wdkirk's picture

I agree with John that the interview series is invaluable.  I find myself back on the interview path after 5 1/2 years and have listened and prepped in the MT fashion and have done much better than had I just tried to figure it out on my own.  My 2 cents is that if you find yourself doing well with either job, then "the bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush."  If both offers were on the table, that would be a different scenario, but because you said that one may precipitate the other you that still isn't a guarantee.  Then once you are in your new job, begin your career planning for the next step.  Eighteen to twenty four months will pass by in a blink and with the proper pre-work you can continue on your desired trajectory.


Best of luck,


AManagerTool's picture

Don't tell the potential employers that you are entertainng other offers.  They know and they don't care.  They may even look at it like gamesmanship on your part.

jhbchina's picture

There is a podcast called How to Make a job Offer. Listen to it;

It can give you some criteria to measure the managers skill at making an offer, and talks about turning control of the process to the candidate. They also review how much time the hiring manager could give the candidate time to make a decision.  You could try to stretch the decision out by an additional couple of days, and they recommend that hiring managers accept that, but not much longer.

JHB  "00"

pdata's picture

OK, it took longer than I expected and the companies are somewhat different but never-the-less, I was offered a position today and when I informed another company who has expressed interest of the offer they asked for a meeting.

So far I've followed M&M's advise on handling offers but there are a few points that are not covered on handling second offers (Yes, I'm assuming that I'll get a second offer when I meet tomorrow, please grant me this as I only have until Monday to respond to the first offer) that I needs advise on:

  • If I don't tell the company that offered first, it seems to me that this puts them at significant disadvantage as the second company knows the parameters of the first offer in accordance with M&Ms guidance on how to handle offers.
  • If I do tell them, it seems to me that this is fundamentally different than informing a company you've interviewed with that have not extended an offer. Based on the assertion that you've got nothing until you've got something, telling someone you just got something from is much more delicate than telling someone you've got nothing from. How do I break the news without losing the something?
  • There are some changes that I would like to see made to the first offer. For example, I'd like the title changed to more closely reflect my previous title.
  • The offer is for a 90 temporary position that would then convert to a permanent position. Is this a dangle?
  • I'm considering presenting both companies with a list of questions that cover concerns not addressed in the offer and benefit guide. For example: What is the company policy on flex-time. What is the company policy on working from home. Will the company provided a laptop for use when out of the office. What is company policy on training to keep skills up to date. What is the company policy on attending conferences. etc. Is this appropriate and what is the best way to ask?

 All prompt advise is very much appreciated.

John M. Miller


jhack's picture

Mark and Mike talk about "Skills, traits, characteristics, and abilities."  To that, I'd add, "Ambition."  How do your longer term career goals align with the two organizations?  

Last time I faced this situation, I had already prepared a spreadsheet, listing what I wanted from my next job.  Each attribute was weighted according to how important that feature was for me.  And I could score the companies from 1 to 10 on each attribute to get a total score.  It provided a clear sense of which offer best fit what I wanted to do. 

Interestingly, benefits weren't on the list.  Why?  Any company I spoke to would offer health care, vacation, etc, and the difference between two weeks and three weeks vacation, or this or those office hours, just couldn't have mattered more than how that company fit into my career aspirations. 

Any questions you ask at this point should be "deal breaker" questions:  The answers would clearly define whether you'd take the job or not.  Is "flex time" a dealbreaker (if, for example, you're a single parent)?  If not, then why ask?  If you want to compare the two companies, you should compare the long term fit and opportunity for growth in the two firms.  If conference attendance is important for how you wish to market yourself in your career for the next ten years, then that's an appropriate question.  If you just like conferences, don't ask. 

Unless the "temporary converts to permanent" is in writing, with clear and objective criteria for option exercise, then you should treat it as a dangle.  The manager has budget for a contractor; the open requisition may or may not exist in three months, and it's not under their control. 

Titles (generally) are a worthless distraction.  If you're good, no one cares what your title is. And once you prove how good you are, they won't care if you take some flex time, and they'll send you to conferences, and....

John Hack

mcutlerwelsh's picture

This is a useful thread. Thanks everyone.

Just backing up a little as to what to tell each party.

My situation is; no current job (recently made redundant). Got an offer on Friday from company A. Company A is offering a good job that I'd be happy doing and would be a good managerial progression, plus allow me a bit of field/technical work. Initially they wanted an answer on Monday. I asked for an extension and they gave until the end of Wednesday. This is all good.

The tricky bit is, I have a second interview with Company B on Friday. Company B is my dream job. It's in the field I want and is a senior management role. They're flying me up there (again), which is a good sign. And, I still "have nothing until I have something" with Company B.

I've told B that I've had an offer from A. I also told them that they (B) are my preference. 

I haven't told A that I have another interview to consider later in the week. I have told A that my family and I have a few decisions to make. 

My proposed plan for tomorrow (Monday) is:

1. Call Company B first thing and ask if there's any chance of bringing their process forward.

2. Assuming the answer to this is 'no' (I know they have a really busy week), I plan to spend my week preparing as best as I can for my second interview with B and to work towards getting an offer for my dream job. To do this, I feel the best thing to do with A is explain that I like them, I like the job and would do it well. However I can't commit until after Friday. If they say they can't wait any longer and will have to pass the offer to someone else, I'm going to have to be prepared to live with that. 

Should I tell A the whole story and explain that I'm flying out of town on Friday to meet for a second interview with B?

Going to go and download the interview series now in preparation, but any other tips would be appreciated.