119

I interviewed for two openings almost in parallel. One offer, let's call it Job-A is much better for my career than (let's call it) Job-B. I have been offered Job-B and the employer is waiting for me to sign the offer letter.

It has been 1.5 weeks since the final on-site interview for Job-A. The hiring manager emailed me a week later and said that they are going through the internal process and that all he can advise is not to accept any other job offers. He is aware that I'm interviewing for other opportunities, that I have other job offers as well as the expiry dates. While he is responsive to my emails, he is not confirming that he will be extending an offer. He is expecting me to let other offers expire. Job-B expires tomorrow.

It is possible that paperwork is taking longer than expected and that he genuinely wants to extend the offer but is stuck. It is a multi-billion dollar finance company with lot of red-tape and he is new to this company. Also, during the interview process I could see that communication isn't his strong skill.

However, I do not feel comfortable passing up an offer on the table based on his "advice" not to accept other offers. Worst case, he might be interviewing other candidates, or be waiting for the other offers to expire so I cannot negotiate because I have made it clear to him that Job-A is my first preference. It sounds horrible and probably only 10% do this, but it isn't illegal. I don't personally know the guy so I have no reason to trust him. Once again, this position is a great opportunity in terms of what it can do for my career but I have a general distrust of people in senior management positions in corporate world - nothing specific about him, or the company.

Since I will be reporting to him, I want to make sure that we do not start on the wrong note. How do I tell him that his "advice" is not enough to pass up an offer? And to send me a formal offer letter without sounding desperate or making it seem like I don't trust him?

UPDATE: So I gave the hiring manager of Job-A an ultimatum saying I need the offer letter today to wait longer. He came back in two hours and said that I should go ahead with the offers that I have because it will take him a month to make a decision because now they are changing the job requirements! Only after I pushed back, I got to know the real situation. Until then, he worded his emails as if the decision is made, he's just going through formality. He said I did well on the interview but he cannot offer me the job right now.

I know that he never offered me the job to begin with, but I let myself believe that he will soon because he outright asked me not to accept other jobs. Following this, he also asked me some questions regarding start date. This, the fact that I knew I did well in the interview and that I really wanted the job put together I let myself believe that I had the job.

I am moving forward with Job-B at this point.

To all those who reminded me that I don't have the job till I have it: Thank you!

  • 63
    He is not your boss (yet). He is probably inexperienced at hiring. If he is experienced at hiring, then he definitely is taking advantage of you and does not respect you. For your own self dignity, tell him that without a formal offer from him, you are continuing to explore your other options. If this upsets him, let this opportunity go. You already have other job offers. – Kent A. Sep 14 '16 at 21:53
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    ".. I have a general distrust of people in senior management positions in corporate world". Smart. That will be valuable to you throughout your career. – Nolo Problemo Sep 14 '16 at 22:41
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    Try asking him not to interview other candidates until he is ready with your job offer, and see how it goes. – Masked Man Sep 15 '16 at 3:22
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Jane S Sep 17 '16 at 21:17

13 Answers 13

113

I call "BS" on this one. Large financial company? Red tape? "He's new?" You're making justifications on his behalf -- stop. When big money REALLY wants things to happen, they can happen same-day or sooner. This manager has fed you a line where there's no risk to his livelihood, but a lot of risk to yours if you don't take that other offer. He may be nowhere near an offer letter, but he's not going to tell you that. If he wants you to wait, he needs to PAY YOU to stay available, and nothing less.

You couldn't call up any of the professionals we use daily (physician, plumber, contractor, etc) to sit pretty for free (and not earn money) until you've figured out what you need and if you can pay. They'd laugh you right off the phone. So if this guy would believe himself reasonable for requesting this of you, maybe he isn't the right guy to be working for!

  • 16
    Very good one. It's obvious that people in that company don't care. Not about you, not about their colleagues who found a good candidate. Otherwise they would've rushed it. – Jan Doggen Sep 15 '16 at 7:40
  • I completely disagree with this answer, given that I primarily work in Banking. " When big money REALLY wants things to happen, they can happen same-day or sooner." That is completely utterly untrue. However, the actual translation what the manager is saying is "Head office have initiated a hiring freeze (have you picked up a FT in the last, say 6 months?). HR refuses to increase headcount, even though half the department left this year, and I will really try to push this recruitment through, because I don't know how banks have turning circles measured in years." – Aron Sep 19 '16 at 8:10
  • I once applied to a big german automotive company, the manager I interviewed with is a friend and he told me the process would take time but the job was sure. The process took 6 months and was hired, though the decision was made right from the beginning (my friend new my skillset prior to apply). So in big corporations things DO take time. – coder4fun Sep 22 '18 at 16:46
221

There's a simple rule.

If you don't have a formal offer, you don't have a job.

Take another job offer without any guilt. Don't worry about what he's thinking or how it makes him feel. It's business. He'll get over it. And if he takes it personally, you wouldn't really want to work with someone like that anyway.

If they wanted you badly enough (and needed you badly enough), they could find a way to rush it, most likely. And if they can't, they don't want you badly enough.

Seriously, several "birds in the hand" are better than one great big bird in the bush.

EDIT: ADDED some advice below.

One piece of advice I would also add. NEVER tell a prospective employer that you want their job more. You've given up a negotiating tool because he now knows which way you're leaning. It's always better to hedge. You can tell him that you "really like the opportunity and it would be a great fit..." but if asked which you like more, say "the other position is great for a lot of reasons too". If they believe that both positions are equal then they will have to assume that you're likely to accept the first offer. This will typically prompt them to hurry up if they can. Then when you do get an offer, you allow them to counter it if it's the job you really want. But if they can't make a counter offer before you have to accept other offer, you've learned that they don't want you as much as you believed.

Accepting one offer over another (or an offer that doesn't exist) isn't burning a bridge. It's business. Anyone who is offended by that isn't someone you would want to work for anyway. The only way to burn a bridge in negotiations is if you lead them on.

  • 23
    +1 for saying it like it is and pointing out that this manager is simply going to cause the OP to lose out on other offers while offering nothing him/herself. I've heard from others who've seen it first-hand that some try to "keep their doors open" by saying things like that, relying on the illusion of hope giving them more time to decide if they want to hire someone or not. I guess some managers think they're playing Pokemployee Go – code_dredd Sep 14 '16 at 22:51
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    I don't think the question is about guilt, it's about choosing a great, but uncertain offer, or fine and certain one. – svick Sep 15 '16 at 1:08
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    I don't know if there is that in OP's country( which is not mentioned) but in France you can sign a "promise of hiring". Which engage the employer to hire you once everything is set. One party failing to this promise is suable. Note that in France it must only mentioned the job and the expected (yet not definitive) date of employment. – Walfrat Sep 15 '16 at 7:14
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    @chrylis i think i mixed the term "formal offer", with the realt contract right ? Then ChristopherEstep said enough about it. I would say the fact he's not willing to make one is a red flag. – Walfrat Sep 15 '16 at 7:51
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    @Cronax: the downside is that it as much as tells them you're waiting for another offer you prefer. Whether that harms you depends on how they react to that information. My guess (and it is just a guess) that the most likely results, in order of likelihood, are (1) they say no extension, tomorrow's deadline stands; (2) they give you a short extension but someone in company-B bears a grudge; (3) they retract (which is no loss if you would have let the deadline pass); (4) they give you an extension and don't mind (and accept their job is second-rate and their deadlines aren't important). – Steve Jessop Sep 15 '16 at 10:29
38

You don't have a formal offer. You don't have a conditional offer. He didn't even confirm that there will be an offer.

Even if we assume that he has your best interests at heart, it is quite likely that he cannot make the hiring decision and has to stall till the hiring committee makes a decision and any background checks have been completed. Even if you get a verbal confirmation it's not going to matter.

At this point you can either:
1. take the risk of rejecting offer B in hopes of getting a (satisfactory) offer from A
2. try to get an extension of the deadline from company B
3. take offer B and accept that you might have missed an offer from A

While I'd personally go for offer B, only you can evaluate the risks and rewards and deduce what's the best choice.

Oh, and

How do I tell him that his "advice" is not enough to pass up an offer?

if he cannot understand this, he's either extremely naive or lying

  • 10
    at this point you don;t even know that if you got an offer it would be a better offer than the one you have on the table. What if you turned down your second choice for 100K and then your first choice came back only offering 80K? – HLGEM Sep 14 '16 at 21:22
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    @HLGEM indeed - and it's not just the salary. – falsedot Sep 15 '16 at 19:39
  • 4. take offer B and wait for an offer from A. If A > B - quit B. At least, depending on your local laws/employment contract. Odds are Company B isn't going to guarantee you X months of employment or even X weeks of notice, it's just a cultural expectation/double standard where we expect individuals to treat at-will employment as if it were something else. – Rob P. Sep 17 '16 at 14:14
27

Just call him up tell him you want to work for his company, but unless he is able to make an offer, you'll have to take the other job. This is completely understandable from anyone's point of view.

If he can't understand / takes offense from this, then he is being unreasonable and probably not the kind of guy you want to be working for!

16

I've been in this position. I asked Job-A if they could offer me the role immediately; they said 'not yet' so I accepted Job-B and never regretted it.

I would definitely advise taking the offer and not risking it all on a vague possible from company A. That they are messing you about like this now would not bode well for any future with them even if they did finally offer you the post.

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    I've been in this position. I asked Job-B for a small extension, during which I finally got to the position of final interview with Job-A. Job-A turned out to sound like an absolute nightmare sweatshop. I remain with Job-B very happily indeed. – Dewi Morgan Sep 15 '16 at 1:20
  • I have never been in this position, but logically if Job-A really wanted you but were slow by accepting Job-B you increase your BATNA. By the time they get their act together, they are simply going to have to beat Job-B. – emory Sep 18 '16 at 8:44
12

If the offer from Job B expires in one day (which, by this point, has probably passed anyway), then you're really too late to have your best options available.

I'd go with the advice most other answers here are offering: take Job B before it expires.

However, for future reference, I thought I'd share my own experience with this situation.

I was interviewing at several companies. My "Job A" gave the recruiter I was working with very positive feedback, and said outright that they were going to make an offer, but that they had to wait on the owner.

My "Job B", which was not one that the recruiter was involved in, moved forward with several interviews after I had heard that feedback from Job A.

Job B made me an offer.

I immediately contacted the recruiter, told him that I had another offer on the table, that I had only 3 days left to make the decision, and that if I did not have a formal offer from Job A by the third day, I would have to accept Job B's offer.

I received a formal offer from Job A the very next day.

I'm certain you could contact the hiring manager directly, if you're not working through a recruiter. Either way, giving a deadline can sometimes make those unexplained delays... inexplicably disappear.

  • 1
    Absolutely the right way to handle this. Fair to all involved, it keeps the door open as long as possible without jeopardising your own security, and nobody has any reason to be offended. It's unfortunate the OP has left it a little too late. – Basic Sep 15 '16 at 22:13
9

I'd prefer to comment on coder4fun's answer but lack the reputation, sorry! Note that in Australia, many contracts include a grace period at the start of employment, typically for around 3 months, where either party can terminate the contract given a week's notice. I believe this is the case elsewhere as well, but I can't say for certain.

If this is the case where you live, this might be an option for you. That being said, I do agree with the comments on the referenced answer that if this is your intention going in, then this would be something of a slimy move.

  • 3
    It exist in France aswell, but you'd be burning bridge with job B, as your reason to leave would something like "I can't stand this environment" or "This is far from what you told me about your company/projects". Coming back in a few weeks/months if Job A is worse wouldn't work. – MickMRCX Sep 15 '16 at 7:10
7

I interpret, "all he can advise is not to accept any other job offers" to mean that he wants to hire you, but that other people have to agree. He's not allowed to commit. Whether that's true or not is impossible to tell, but I think that's what he means to tell you.

If he's acting in good faith then he wants to commit, just like he wants to hire you. The first of those things isn't happening. So we conclude that either he doesn't have the power in the organisation to make the things that he wants to happen, happen, or that he's not acting in good faith.

Either way, you cannot assume that it's a mere delay and the offer is a formality: there might well be no offer. Either way, you can't sit on your hands indefinitely waiting for him to come up with a job offer. There's nothing you can do now to make him produce an offer by tomorrow except maybe to tell him that unless you have an offer in hand by tomorrow then you're talking another offer. That's as close as possible to a "friendly" ultimatum: if he makes it then he gets what he wants, if he doesn't then you've done him no harm. It is completely reasonable for you to withdraw your application prior to him making an offer, in the event that you are accepting another offer, and he can't reasonably bear a grudge for that. It's also nothing he didn't already know: you say he already had your deadline dates and hasn't managed to get his end done.

You need to decide how important it is to you, at this stage in your life, to get the job that's "much better for your career". If you're shooting for a highly desirable job with a highly desirable employer, then sometimes those do take longer to land. You have to plan on the application process taking longer than the time it takes a lesser offer to expire. If you don't have a job already, that means you have to plan on a period of unemployment while you go through that slow process.

You simply can't apply "in parallel" to one company (B) whose hiring process takes a couple of weeks from application to offer expiring, and another (A) whose hiring process takes many weeks or months. Highly desirable employers sometimes don't care about this disparity: they prefer to take their time even though some fish get off the hook that way. That said, in a well-organised hiring process the delay will be because you go through multiple rounds of testing and interviews, not because there's a whole lot of bureaucracy where the hiring manager figures out how to fill in the forms and whose permission he should have had all along. Again, the delay indicates that even if he's acting completely in good faith, there's a very good chance he won't get it done.

One big issue here is how easy you think it'd be to get another offer comparable to job-B. If it's easy, then the cost of turning down job-B is small and so you should turn it down. If you think it's hard, or if you need a new job very soon, then taking a long time applying for job-A is probably not the right move for you at the moment. Then you're pretty much forced to take job-B. You can apply for another "dream job" in a year or two, however long you feel you should stay to avoid obvious job hopping.

Finally, you could accept job-B and then change your mind if job-A does materialise. If you saw Parks and Recreation, this is the "Ben Wyatt" approach. It might be completely incompatible with your own personal integrity, and it might permanently disqualify you from ever applying to company-B again. But it's an available move in the game so even if you'd never do it you should consider it long enough to understand why you aren't doing it.

  • The first two paragraphs sum up to "company is not bringing its 'A' game to the offer table," which is disappointing to candidates who bring their "A" games to the interview. – Blrfl Sep 16 '16 at 10:44
4

Pick up the phone and talk to the hiring manager - they may be more open when it's not is writing.

These are the things you need to know:

  1. How many candidates are they still considering for this role?
  2. What are the remain steps they need to complete before they are able to formally offer a job?
  3. What would need to occur in the remaining steps for them to decide not to offer the job?

If they are still considering other candidates, then there is no current decision to offer the role to you - it's still a maybe...

If they are only considering you, and are doing background HR checks before making the formal offer, then the decision maker has decided to offer the job to you - as long as you don't have skeletons, or the role gets pulled, then you can expect an offer to appear - but you don't know the salary you will be offered - and roles DO get pulled sometimes.

Generally, if the first job offer is acceptable, I recommend you take it.

There is one exception to this. If you consider the second role as a truly exceptional, once in a life time dream job - and are prepared to walk away from the security of the job offer, then explaining this to the first company has a chance ( 10% at best) of them extending the offer for a few more days.

  • I called him after he replied saying he cannot extend the offer. He mentioned that while I did well on the interview, the job req is changing so he cannot offer the job to me. When I asked him when then did he ask me not to accept other offers, he said that until yesterday (the day I called him) they were planning to give me the offer, but only now they had decided to change the job requirements! I don't understand what the point of doing this is. He couldn't have expected me to actually believe that! – Jo Bennet Sep 26 '16 at 18:03
  • Hi Jo, it's probably more common that you think. I have interviewed people for roles, waiting for board sign off on the selected candidate - only for the board to pull the funding for a role. – Michael Shaw Sep 26 '16 at 19:28
2

You already know everything, you said it in 4th paragraph. The company structure is either too incompetent to make a decision in a reasonable time or he's deliberately trying to screw you into worse negotiating position. Either way, it's a red flag. Which means you should seriously reconsider your desire to work for company A at all.

For the next time remember that negotiations go both ways. Just as a company gives you a deadline, you should give them yours. In this case you should simply forward B's deadline for you as your deadline for A. Don't explain how you got to it, it's none of their business: it's YOUR deadline for THEM, period. It makes everything easier from the very start, as the long-decision company can state at the very beginning "we can't make a decision so fast", so you can take the second offer a week earlier, thus appearing more professional and sparing everyone the stress of uncertainty.

1

First accept Job-B*, if you get the other offer then just accept Job-A* and quit Job-B and say it's not what you expected.

*provided contract conditions are fair and you are fine with it.

Note: I know this can be hated by some people but, like someone said, it's just business.

  • 28
    I hate people doing things like this. Please don't be that guy. – Lightness Races with Monica Sep 14 '16 at 23:26
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    This behaviour is kind of like being a jerk, and could give you a bad reputation for any future interactions with B. – Steve Shipway Sep 15 '16 at 0:40
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    Or anyone who works at B and is aware of it, who later works with C, or talks to people at D, or when you mention it to coworkers when you are later working at E ... it will taint you and that taint will follow you – Mawg says reinstate Monica Sep 15 '16 at 8:27
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    Don't do this if you live in a small or medium-sized city. You could probably get away with it in New York, London, or some place like that. – Dawood says reinstate Monica Sep 15 '16 at 10:32
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    People remember these kind of things. You would not send the right message – François Gautier Sep 15 '16 at 14:51
-2

Take job B and don't call A. If A calls, tell him that you are already in trial period for job B, but still willing to consider A.

Let me clarify: commitment is measured by the cost of lying. Job A is only a virtual hope. It does not exist. Really. It is easy to tell A :"I'll wait but give me $10k as a deposit, that I'll give back when you hire me". You'll see if A is really honest about making the OP wait.

Meanwhile, i would not be worried about my reputation if joining B and then quitting for A: it is fair to go for what you like best. You can still help B replace you or give them time to find a replacement.

-7

I strongly suggest you to wait.

"Do not to accept any job offer" is the best thing you can get from a hiring manager, which means "You got the job, but there are paperwork to be done and I don't have an authority to give you any information before it's done."

There is only very very slim chance of them waiting you for negotiation or lying to you, but even that is only for small companies. Large companies will not care about it.

The only risk is if something come up with the paperwork, and it's also a chance less to none.

  • 13
    I can't disagree more with this answer. You don't have a written offer. You don't have a verbal offer. You don't have a job offer. Maybe one is coming, but you don't have one yet. It's absolutely routine to hear a comment like this and then not receive an actual job offer. It happens all the time. – ChrisInEdmonton Sep 15 '16 at 13:58
  • You haven't got the job. You've got the job when both sides agreed on a contract and signed. There's maybe a 50% chance that you get the job and the manager says "you see, you can trust my word". or that you don't get the job and the manager isn't the one who has to deal with it, but you, your wife and your children. – gnasher729 Sep 15 '16 at 14:35
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    @NecatiHakanErdogan, no. Your comment above is simply wrong. Period. – Wildcard Sep 15 '16 at 20:25
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    @NecatiHakanErdogan "Do not accept anything else" is a holding sentence that pops up from time to time. All it means is that they haven't rejected you yet. Nothing more. The proper response to that is "That's fantastic, put that in writing with a start date and a generous salary" – Michael Shaw Sep 15 '16 at 22:49
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    @Necati Hakan All that it means is Manager is hoping a better candidate comes along, but they want to keep the OP around as a standby. If the better candidate doesn't come along by a certain time, they can go back to OP. But of course, the problem there is, this cunning plan carries the risk of OP not being there on standby when their timer has expired. Hence the "advice" to not accept any other offers. – Masked Man Sep 16 '16 at 15:52

protected by Jane S Sep 15 '16 at 21:45

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