Hi Mark and everyone else. I just recently started listening to the podcasts and I love them. I feel that they will definitely help me in my career. I have a problem and I was hoping to get some feedback:

In my current job search where I am looking to change careers, I have been interviewing at two companies. The one that I really am excited about, which we'll call company A, is a prestigious fortune 500 financial company. So far I like the position, the people, and the career implications. I am returning for my second round of interviews and it looks promising.

In the meantime, Company B, a small boutique financial firm with whom I already completed my 2nd round of interviews, contacted me this morning and offered me a position. It defintiely did not conform to the guidlines you guys set forth in making an offer. The manager is the one that made the offer, except he didnt want to give me specific answers about what the exact offer is, just that they can meet the requested salary that I had stated at the interview (when they asked me and I did not have one of your great responses handy.) I asked about benefits and he gave a vague answer about how they have full medical through Oxford Health and "substantial performance based bonuses," (How vague can you get!) Anyway, he seemed disappointed that I didn't accept on the spot and asked if I have any other offers I am considering. I answered that I am in talks with another company. He said after I talk to them about it we can talk further about the specifics, but was unwilling to work out all the details until I told him that I accept his offer (sight unseen!) He said he was eager to get me hired ASAP and he needed me to make a decision and get back to him with it by this Friday.

On top of already not being as excited about a position with company B, all this has left me much more hesitant about the company. On the other hand, if I say no and company A falls through then I will have given up an opportunity that is still a substantially better situation than my current job. After asking my mentor for advice, she advised me to inform the manager that I had interviewed with at company A to see if we can finalize the interview process more quickly. I informed Company A that I was extended an offer from B but that I am far more excited about a career with A. Thus far that is all that happened, and I await a response from the manager at company A who is traveling in asia on business currentlyand so our correspondence is going to proceed slowly.

Any advice about how to deal with the managers at both companies, and any other feedback about how to proceed is much appreciated. Thanks and sorry for the long post!
- edween

Nik's picture

Whatever you do, don't take an offer that isn't in writing! If the manager won't give you a proper offer letter/email and can't even commit to specifics over the phone (a verbal contract is binding in America), then I'd think something very shady is going on.

Let him know that if he can give you a specific offer, in writing, you will consider it.

As for the other company, if you feel it would help things, you could always check in and see if they're ready to extend you an offer. Meanwhile, while you dicker with Mr. Non-specific, you're extending your window of opportunity for the other company to come through for you.

Good luck!

Mark's picture
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First: Whoa! Nik's guidance is only applicable to THIS situation, folks, in case you weren't sure. (thanks Nik). Offers needn't be in writing in all cases. Written offers do make things unambiguous, but that isn't to say that managers aren't to be trusted.

Now then: [b]Lucky you![/b] The company you are less interested in and yet is moving faster has stumbled, and this provides you the opportunity to fully explore Company A.

Company B's manager is likely responding to the set of incentives he labors within (ah, don't we ALL). He is not willing to be specific, which is egregious, and perhaps only wants to go through the work associated with an offer if you were to guarantee acceptance (can anyone tell me why I write the sentence this way?) Or, he may be worried about statistics, or HR, or his boss.

Regardless, he has given you the opening to explore A. Your mentor was correct - tell her thanks from me for being on the ball.

Stay in touch with B and know that he may get tired of waiting and "take away" his "offer". It may be a Potemkin Village he's un-erecting, but it will send you a message that things have cooled, and if you do decide to ask for the offer to be proffered, you could likely do so. (Though I would write down now what you believe his "offer" to be, because if you come back to him later he will feel like second fiddle and forget his burning need, and probably short change you.)

Nothing wrong with keeping B on the back burner if you honestly would consider an offer from them. I wouldn't recommend you go to work there...but nevertheless, I am not you.

Congratulations that two companies may very well be vying for you. Don't miss the forest for the trees.

And, in THIS case, I'd get that offer from B in writing.


edween4's picture

Mark and Nik...thank you for the great advice. I received a reply from Company A's manager. She said we will try to speed up the process and get everything done by Friday but if not Comp B is "lucky to have me". I am afraid she thinks I was saying that if I don't get an offer from Comp A by Friday I would take Comp B's offer. I am very hesitant to take Comp B's offer even without the prospect of Comp A following through. Did I mess up my chances with Comp A? Also, I was instructed by Comp A's manager to contact one her team members (who mgr cced in our last email) to schedule my second round. Do you have any tips on how I should address this issue if it comes up (which I'm sure it will)? If they don't decide to give me an offer by Friday I don't want them to stop considering me for the position based on the assumption that they've missed my deadline.

bflynn's picture

Did you mess up with A? No. You told them you were interested in them. Your message was "I'm interesting in working for you, but I'm under a time pressure to act." Their reply tells me that they are also interested in you. So far, it looks good. This happens frequently.

I would expect questions about company B in the second round in the realm of timing. Timing questions impact the decision that A has to make. There may also be some general questions about the other position, in terms of management level, but that is bordering on them going too far. The attractiveness of their position should not depend on its competitiveness with B's position. Besides, you've already told then you think A might be a better position because you're delaying B to interview with A.

They might try to ask about B's offer, but IMO, that's really too much information. To me it would reflect negatively on them for asking. Others may differ in that view, but I can't see that they have a right to expect you to reveal confidential business dealings that they're not a party to.

One variation that is fine is if they ask you what kind of offer you want from them. In fact, you should be prepared to answer this question no matter what form it takes.

If Friday afternoon rolls around without an offer, contact the hiring manager again and ask if there is any update. Reiterate that you're under a time constraint. You might get a no right away or you might get a verbal offer with a written one on the way. Maybe its somewhere in between, in which case you have to make your read on it.

You are in a good place and doing things right.


Mark's picture
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You are right to pay attention to the "lucky to have you" phrase.

What you did is fine, and what they responded with is fine. THey were both (a) sending you a message that they may not be able to act that fast, and (b) seeing if you were bluffing but implying that they don't need you to keep from going out of business.

You are in an okay place. Welcome to the world of "not in control."