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Two weeks ago, I was looking for work and I reached out to a consultant friend of mine to ask if they had any work they could send my way. It turned out, the company he's Consulting for is a long-term engagement and he's looking to hire more people to work with him.

The job had some benefits I was really interested in, but it uses some technology I'm not passionate about. He practically offered me a job on the spot, but I wasn't sure if the pros outweigh the cons, so I asked for two weeks to think about it.

Those two weeks will end in 3 days. After talking to him, I found another company that was my ideal job, but their application process took so long, I completed it yesterday.

What I really want to do is work at this other company, but I have no idea when they will get back to me or if they would be interested in hiring me.

I also think it would be unethical to take my friend's job and leave within a few weeks if the preferred company gives me an offer.

Telling the truth seems like it would be pretty rude: "Your job sounds pretty good but I think I have a shot at working at my dream job. You were already generous by waiting two weeks before I gave you an answer, but would you mind waiting indefinitely until I figure out if I get my dream job? If I don't, I'll come work with you instead."

Is there any way to ask for a second extension to deciding on a job offer without burning any bridges?

This is probably some important context: this person is more of an acquaintance than a friend. In the past, we worked at the same company together, but never on the same team. I have worked with his wife on two occasions and we get along really well and her husband has always seemed like a nice guy I would enjoy working with. I care more about burning a bridge than extending my decision, because I really like them both.

My friend is offering the ability to work 30 hours a week, and that means a lot to me because I value my free time. My dream job is also offering this. I am a software engineer, and part-time jobs seem pretty rare. That's why, if I didn't land my dream job, I'm pretty sure I want to work for him. It feels unlikely that I could find another job out there that's offering part-time employment. That's the reason I don't want to just turn the offer down. It would benefit me more if I could ask for another extension.

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    "What I really want to do is work at this other company, but I have no idea when they will get back to me or if they would be interested in hiring me." It's very unlikely that will amount to anything. If they haven't answered within a couple days, they won't.
    – Fattie
    May 22 at 18:27
  • Realistically, that do you think the chances are that you will get the "dream job"? Probably no more than 5%, right? Take your friend's job offer.
    – sam
    May 22 at 19:51
  • @sam realistically? I think it's 60% or higher. But the odds that they will get back to me within a week? Pretty low. They are a small consultancy and their website said it often takes time to get back to somebody because they won't always have a job available for the applicants skills.
    – malasiad3
    May 22 at 22:50
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    @Fattie I applied at 4 a.m. on a Thursday night so they've had one work day to reply.
    – malasiad3
    May 22 at 22:51
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    @malasiad3 So you have no contact with this company other than sending them a form/email, you're literally at step 0 in the hiring process, and you think there's a 60 percent chance its your dream job (without talking to anyone there about what the job actually is)? That seems incredibly naive. But ignoring that- you're deciding that you'd rather apply to this other job than take the one already offered to you. There's nothing wrong with that, but don't expect the other guy to keep the offer open. I wouldn't even mention the other company, it could be insulting given you're at step 0. May 22 at 23:31
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Your job sounds pretty good but I think I have a shot at working at my dream job. You were already generous by waiting two weeks before I gave you an answer, but would you mind waiting indefinitely until I figure out if I get my dream job? If I don't, I'll come work with you instead

This doesn't sound un-salvageably bridge-burny to me. You just need to workshop it, maybe drop the "dream job" part. It's in your acquaintance's interest too that, if you join their company, you actually want to work there.

I would be upfront about your situation. As a software engineer, you have some leverage. That two-week deadline is also likely to be flexible. Here's how I would communicate, not knowing the particulars of your situation:

Thank you for the offer and the deadline extension. It's very compelling; however, I'm in the late stages of the pipeline with another company that also excites me. I will need more time to wrap up ongoing other interviews and make the decision that's optimal for both me and wherever I work.

Could you please extend my response deadline by 12 weeks? I expect to hear back from everyone by then and will be comfortable making a decision once I have full information.

YMMV, but I think you have the leverage, they have the flexibility, and your interests are aligned insofar as both of you want to have you join your acquaintance's company if and only if it's someplace where you'll be happy. Rushed decisions are high-risk.

If you foresee a risk of this company getting firm on the deadline extension or simply withdrawing the offer, you might want to word your request very diplomatically and meekly. But it sounds like they really want you and you would all just benefit from approaching this situation with honesty. This is an integrative negotiation where both of you win if you're able to set a deadline that makes sense.

I also don't think you'll burn a bridge just by asking for an offer deadline extension.

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If you're working in a big firm like me, it's pretty common for the application process to take unusually long. For me, it took merely a week for the company, as big as 150+ employees, to reply to me for an interview call. For my brother, who got an internship at the same company, it took him about half a year. Based on my research, the norm is 2 months, and I also know an individual for whom it took a whole year (albeit, he was applying abroad).

Even if you get your dream job, you don't have to start immediately. They ask you "When can you start?" for this reason, and I believe it's perfectly okay to wait for a month before your first day. My firm's employment contract states that employees may have to keep coming as long as a whole month (with salary of course) after resignation, if the company requires it. Another company I know of has the same condition but for a week. So it's perfectly justifiable to wait for a bit before making a switch.

Think about your situation. How long can you survive without a job? If not for long, then you have to play safe and take the job you're being offered. Even if you can wait considerably, consider the opportunities: are there enough to get you a job no matter what?

Instead of telling your friend to wait indefinitely, give him a deadline; even if it's long (2 months would be good for me). Of course, he's going to take you less seriously if you reject the offer but you should reduce this effect as much as possible. Explain your passion to him. Ask him if he has opportunities for the job you want instead. Apologize for taking up his time. For the last day wait, I don't see anything wrong with it. You would only be able to respond earlier if you got accepted/rejected; I'm sure he's going to be fine with it.

And ignore the others for telling you that you have low chances of getting employed. Only you know about that. I have my dream job right now and I can relate on this underdog situation before I got employed.

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