Let’s get real for a minute: Juggling multiple job prospects at once isn’t the worst situation to find yourself in. You’re in demand! It’s a credit to your talent! You should feel proud. But it’s also complicated: After all, is it OK to tell a potential employer that you have another offer? What’s the best way to play it so you get the job—and, ahem, salary—you want? Here’s exactly what you should do.
Is It OK to Tell a Potential Employer That You Have Another Offer?
1. Remember That an Offer Isn’t an Offer Until You Get It in Writing
So, you got a verbal offer. That’s great. But until you have the exact details of said offer in writing, nothing is confirmed, which means you shouldn’t bring it up to a potential employer. This means that if an employer you’ve been interviewing with calls you with a job offer, you should thank them. But the next step is to request a written offer so that you can review everything in detail before making a decision. (For reference, a written offer typically includes info such as job title, start date, salary and benefits.) Yes, this makes everything legit, but your request also serves to buy you a bit more time as you continue to see how things play out at the other potential employer.
2. Once You Have the Written Offer, Be Honest with That Company
If you need more time before accepting (in order to give another employer a shot to make an offer) you should be honest with the HR rep that reached out. It’s as simple as explaining: “Thank you again for this incredible offer. I know you want an answer by tomorrow, but I have a final meeting with another company scheduled for this week and I’d like to continue with that as planned. Would it be possible to have X additional days to make a final decision?” The worst case scenario is that they say no—they can’t wait the extra few days. But this type of situation happens more often than you might think, so directness and professionalism count for a lot. If they can accommodate your ask, they will.
3. Now, the Tricky Part: It’s Time to Tell the Other Company
Is it OK to tell a potential employer that you have another offer? The answer is yes, but the nuance lies in how you tell them, since you never want it to look like you’re pitting one company against the other, especially since you only have a firm offer from one.
The best strategy is to wait until you’ve had your final interview with the employer who has yet to make an offer. Once you have a sense that you’re a frontrunner for the position, say, “Thank you so much again for meeting with me and considering me for this open role. I really feel I can contribute X and will be a valuable member of the team. I wanted to mention that I unexpectedly received another job offer this week and while that position appeals to me, this role working with you would be my number one pick.” From there, explain when you’ll need an answer for the other company, and ask if this employer has a sense of when they will be making a final decision for the role.
Your goal? That they’ll accelerate their timeline, giving you the option to weigh two offers at once. They could also tell you to accept the other position or that they can’t answer in that time frame, but at least you’ll know. Again, honesty, professionalism and gratitude are always the best approaches.