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I'm asking this question for someone else (let's call them Alice). Alice has been looking for a job for a long time and finally came across companies A, B and C. They are all interviewing for an open position. She applied and had a phone interview and in-person interview with all three companies. She even had a second in-person interview with Company A to meet the owner. Company A and B both said they are still considering other candidates. Company C made an offer but the pay is way less than expected. But out of desperation Alice is prepared to accept Company C's offer (they have been looking for many months now). I'm tempted to tell Alice to tell Company A and B that they are about to accept an offer from Company C. My idea is that this would compel Company A and B to put an offer on the table if they don't want to risk losing Alice.

Would this be an advisable tactic? Or would there be any consequences? I feel like this could be like a very mild case of extortion.

Also, what could be a good example email that Alice could send to Company A and B?

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170

It can help. As a hiring manager I've often been in the situation of having a candidate I like, but the machinery of approvals and some upper manager who demands to 'chat with all candidates' but of course he's never available is getting in my way.

In that case, if a candidate says they are considering another offer, it lets me:

  1. Set expectations with them about how much time is left on our side
  2. Go use that to try to kick others into quicker action (and that can work)
  3. At worst, tell you "hey you should probably take the other offer" and then at least you don't have ambiguity.

You don't have to be overly pushy, just email saying "I am really interested in the position there but I've received another offer and need to give them a reply soon. Is there any update you can share on an opportunity for us to work together?"

However, remember a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush - if A and B can’t give you an actual offer by the time you need it but are still tempting you with “maybe soon,” you may lose the offer with C and possibly end up with no offers. Don’t let yourself get out in a bad position.

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  • 7
    Some companies are very lethargic in their hiring process. Informing them you have received another offer is often the catalyst needed to move things along.
    – Mohair
    Apr 15 at 14:42
  • I like your proposed wording. It shows that you are in a bind yourself and not acting recklessly. Apr 16 at 13:28
  • 2
    Thanks for the answer and especially the last part, that was in the back of my mind. Luckily Company C gave a deadline for accepting the offer. After receiving the first few answers here I went ahead and told "Alice" to go and tell the other companies about the other offer. One of them came back right away and said they have one more candidate to interview this weekend and will make a decision by then. I also asked Alice to try negotiating a better pay at Company C and they said they would have to talk to the owner who is out of town but will get back to her. Apr 16 at 15:07
  • 6
    When I interviewed with Google, I got an offer from another company when I had finished all interviews but Google's normal hiring process still had probably three or four weeks before they'd finalize a decision. I told Google about that offer, and they immediately fast tracked me for urgent priority consideration and told me they would make the decision that same week. So, even if it's an enormous company with strict formal processes, those formal processes may include steps to expedite when there's a competing offer.
    – Douglas
    Apr 16 at 18:17
  • 1
    +1 for the fantastic wording of the email. It's perfectly "neutral" and does conveys exactly what's needed. Apr 17 at 17:48
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mxyzplk's answer is spot on. Just adding more specifics:

Would this be an advisable tactic?

Definitely yes. There is significant potential benefit and really no harm or risk.

Or would there be any consequences? I feel like this could be like a very mild case of extortion.

That would be highly unlikely. As a hiring manager I would very much prefer be kept up to date. I can choose to act on it or not, but I certainly would appreciate the info and a chance to react. It's better than just getting an offer rejected or the candidate disappearing.

Also, what could be a good example email that Alice could send to Company A and B?

"Hi Bob. Thank you so much for interviewing me and I'm very excited about the position and the opportunity. I understand that this process takes time, but I currently have a competing offer on the table and I need to make a decision by XYZ date. I'm very interested in a role at and it would be really helpful for me to understand what your expected timeline is. Would it be possible to discuss this on a quick phone call?"

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I have had that exact situation.

I called the second company, and thanked them for their time, and told them I was accepting an offer from another company. She then told me they had an offer for me and offered significantly more.

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    Indeed, I did the same sort of thing once. I had had interviews with two companies; one was a really long commute, and they gave me an offer, with a deadline. I contacted the other company to say I'd rather take the shorter commute, if they could make me an offer before the deadline. They did, and I accepted it.
    – alfvaen
    Apr 15 at 16:53
7

It's not only advisable, its absolutely normal. If you get an offer from one company, you let anyone else who you're along the path know that you did, so they can accelerate the process. Any halfway decent recruiter will ask you where you are with other possible offers repeatedly throughout the process so they can adjust their own speed.

As for the letter, just tell them that you have an offer from another party, that's good enough for you to accept, but you'd rather work for them. Then ask them to if they can expedite the process. The worse that can happen is they say no.

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The consequence is that she may decrease the probability of an offer from companies A and B because they may not be capable of moving that fast. It is not extortion-she has improved her alternative if they do not make an offer. Assuming she will accept C if A and B do not come through by the expiration of the offer from C and is not willing to quit C after having accepted an offer, she has nothing to lose. She decreases the chance they will make an offer at all because she may be stressing their systems, but increases the chance they will make an offer in time to be useful. The point is that an offer from A or B after the expiration of the C offer has no value. Her objective should be to maximize the chance of an offer from A or B before the expiration of the C offer.

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@mxyzplk has given a good answer. I agree that it's a good thing to inform the other party that you have an offer but you have to be vigilant. Based on personal experience, some potential employers see this as some sort of a game and try to turn the tables to their benefit.

I've recently been in this situation myself. Let me explain: I was looking for a new job and found a fitting job at companyA (good salary) so I applied.

CompanyB (excellent salary) contacted me because I've helped them out in the past and asked me if I could help them out for a half year. I said that I could not because I was only interested in a long-term agreement, so they asked if they could set up a talk with the CFO. The talk with the CFO was positive and he told me he would discuss it with the head of the board.

Meanwhile, I got an offer from companyA, so I told the CFO (companyB) that I got another offer. He told me that he would have his talk in 3 days, so I waited.

3 days later, no answer. So I asked the CFO if he knew something. He told me that they can agree to a contract of indefinite duration, with one month notice. I was already stretching the time to give companyA their answer, since they were kind of in a rush to hire someone. So, I told companyA that I found another job and won't be joining them.

In the meantime, I asked the CFO of companyB some questions because I thought it was kind of strange they wanted 1 month notice period in the contract. They told me they could only promise me work for 6 months with perhaps more after.

I was angry and told them I was fully honest with them and I will not join them this way. They replied back and said they may not have communicated well but they have been nothing but honest with me.

I was lucky to keep my old job since I already had told them I would be leaving. But that's another story.

Looking back, I believe their actions were deliberate to put me in a position where I had no choice.

The biggest mistake that I made here was that I gave indication to CompanyB that I would prefer to work with them. They tried to exploit this and succeeded.

What would have been better is If I told CompanyB that I have an offer from companyA and that I will accept it unless they have a better counter offer in 3 days, and stuck with it.

I'm still kinda shocked by how this all went down, but hopefully others can learn from this and not fall into the same trap as I did.

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It depends, but it's not a terrible idea. The number of other companies doesn't really matter so let's talk about only A and C.

Telling A that you are taking an offer from C can have several consequences:

  • A can hurry up and give an offer so they get a shot at you.
  • A can immediately reject you because you are now less likely to take their offer.
  • A can say "sorry we can't make an offer any sooner, do what you have to do".
  • A may be grateful that you are open and transparent and be nicer to you (whether you end up getting an offer or not).
  • A may get mad that you're trying to press them and be meaner to you (whether you end up getting an offer or not).
  • A can make a bigger offer than they were planning to because the offer from C increases your value in their eyes.
  • C can catch wind of this and retract the offer (very unlikely).

Obviously these range from very good to very bad so the question is which one is likely. That depends entirely on the conditions of the job market, and sometimes it is impossible to know every important factor. You have to treat every outcomes as a possibility and plan accordingly.

All that aside, in your situation I would:

  • Let A know I have an attractive offer
  • Tell A by when I when I must respond to the offer as it stands
  • Don't tell A that the offer is from C
  • Don't tell A whether you're planning to take it (just say that you are thinking about it, which you are)
  • Don't tell A that I definitely won't take theirs
  • Only tell anyone that you reject their offer the moment after you accept one, or if you are 100% sure you would prefer being unemployed to taking their offer

My first question for A would be if they can set a deadline by when they would make me an offer. If A's deadline is ahead of C's deadline, I would wait and then weigh the two offers against each other. If A's deadline is after C, I would ask C for more time to think and if they say no, withdraw from A (if they say yes it's the previous situation). Phrase it as just informing them of the facts, not as an expectation that A do something based on the information, but as a statement that you must now make a decision by a certain date (C's deadline).

Having B in addition to A does nothing much, other than making the timing more complicated but also giving you more shots at a positive outcome.

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As others have said, there's nothing wrong with contacting A and B and saying "I'm interested in you but need to take another offer". That being said:

There's nothing stopping Alice from taking C's offer, then later rejecting it and taking A or B's offer if it is significantly better.

Business is business. If they offered Alice the job, and then later that day, Tim Berners-Lee or Linus Torvalds applied asking for the same pay, they'd drop her in a heartbeat. There's nothing wrong with Alice making the same kind of decision.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Kilisi
    Apr 16 at 20:58
-5

I wouldn't tell them.

In a competitive job market, I wouldn't do this. Simply put, if you're getting other offers, they're losing bargaining power, since they're now competing with other employers, and that makes you a less attractive candidate compared to a candidate that they have a monopoly over. If you tell them about other offers you might be getting, then that increases the incentive for them to reject you as a possible hire, and select one of your competitors for the position.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Kilisi
    Apr 16 at 20:56

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