How to Negotiate Multiple Job Offers

After all the hard work you’ve put in at Lambda School, finally being offered a position in your field is cause for celebration — and a relief. But when you get more than one offer, the situation can quickly turn stressful.

Maybe you know which job you prefer to take, and want to know how to turn other offers down professionally so you don’t burn a bridge. Or perhaps one offer isn’t quite what you want, but you’re hoping a second offer gives you some leverage to negotiate. It’s also possible that you just don’t know how to choose between two great, but different, options. 

Read on for more information on how to navigate multiple job offers, including tips for choosing the best one for you and advice on respectfully declining an offer you’ve decided not to accept.

Assessing and negotiating multiple job offers

The goal of job hunting is to get a job, yes — but not just any job. Your goal should be to land a position that you’re excited about, with a compensation package that you feel accurately reflects the value you bring to the company. 

Overall, keep in mind that a job offer isn’t the endpoint in the discussion; companies expect potential employees to ask questions, negotiate the offer, and decide if the position is ultimately the right one for them. If you are interested in two different offers, but one is stronger on salary or benefits, you can ask if the other can increase the salary or improve the benefits. Approach this as a conversation, not a demand, but recognize that you do have some leverage in this situation with a written job offer in hand.

Here is a sample script: “Thank you for the generous offer! I am excited about this opportunity with Company X, especially the chance to work on the Y initiative we discussed in the interview. I wanted to see if there is any wiggle room in the compensation package. I received another offer with [salary] and [benefits]. I am excited to join the team at Company X and believe this position is an ideal fit, so I am hopeful we can find a way to close this gap.”

What if the offers are pretty similar? If you prefer one company or role over the other but the salary and benefits are quite similar, you can approach your preferred employer and see what they will do.

Here is a sample script: “Thank you for the job offer! I am excited about this opportunity with Company X, especially the change to work on the Y initiative we discussed in the interview. In the interest of transparency, I was recently offered a position with another company, and I am considering my options as I decide which one is the best fit at this time. Is there any wiggle room for negotiation in your offer? I am excited about how my experience with A, B, and C can add value your team, so I hope we can land on something we both feel great about.”

You might find out that there is little or no room for negotiation on salary or benefits but you won’t know that if you don’t ask. And remember: if any changes are made to the job offer you initially receive, make sure you get those changes in writing.

Delaying a job offer

Sometimes the problem is not that you’ve received multiple job offers, but that you’ve been offered one position while you are still interviewing for others — perhaps others that you would prefer to accept if offered.

Companies assume that applicants are looking elsewhere, especially when they are recent graduates, and you don’t have to pretend otherwise or give them all the details. However, you should always make the company you are interviewing with feel like your top priority. Focus not on where else you are interviewing, but on where you are interviewing at that moment — and why you are excited to be there.

Instead of responding to a question like “Are you interviewing elsewhere?” with “Yes, and I’ve interviewed with three other companies already,” answer more like this: “As I think about my next steps after Lambda School, I am exploring different opportunities. But I’m really interested in how your company is approaching X, so I’m excited to be here to talk about how I might be a fit for your team.”

If you get an offer from one company while still in the interview or application process with another, you may be able to buy a little time. It is reasonable to ask for a few days to consider a job offer, whether you have a counteroffer or not — many people need to discuss a potential offer with other members of their household, for example, or simply want time to review and consider its terms carefully. 

This is as simple as asking politely: “Thank you so much for the offer! I’m excited about this opportunity at Company X, especially considering the discussion we had about your work on Y and how I could contribute to that. Is it possible to have a few days to consider the offer? I want to discuss with my family and give it the careful consideration it deserves.” 

Up to a week is not an unreasonable ask in most cases, though longer than that will be more difficult; companies don’t want to risk losing other good candidates if their first choice passes, and they will be mindful that others who reached the final stages of the process will be waiting to hear about their decision. But there may be circumstances where a company can’t give you much time to review an offer. This makes your decision more difficult, but it’s good to know from the start. 

If you are in the final stages of the process with another company, a few days might be enough time to find out if another offer will be forthcoming. After asking Company A for a few days to consider their offer, contact Company B and ask them if there is anything you can do to facilitate their process in light of this offer — you may be able to move up a second interview, for example, or they may make a decision more quickly if they know they could lose you.

However, if the process with Company B will take longer than a few days, you may have to make a decision without knowing if you would end up with an offer from them. Think about how you would feel about Company A’s offer if Company B was not a factor. Would it still be a good fit for you? Realistically, how do you feel about your chances with Company B — is it a very competitive company? How far along are you in the process, and how do you feel about how it has gone so far? 

Whatever you decide in this situation, the most important thing is to own it — make a decision confidently and professionally, and move forward. Getting hung up on what-ifs or should-haves won’t put you in a good mindset going into your new position. 

What if you accept an offer, even start a new job, but then hear from your dream company? This is trickier still. Generally, it is best practice to stay at a job for a year unless there are serious issues with the company, the work environment, or the job as presented. If you do consider a new position sooner than that, do not mention anything to your current employer until you have received a formal job offer. You can attempt to discuss your concerns with the other company if the offer is important enough to you to strongly consider it; they may see other opportunities for you down the road and will appreciate your professional approach in any case. 

Ultimately, make the decision that is right for you — but know that leaving a position quickly is generally a professional faux pas that can cause significant issues for the company and may leave them with a poor impression not only of you, but of Lambda School in general. That doesn’t mean that leaving a position less than a year after starting it is always the wrong choice or will always burn a professional bridge; however, it does mean that it’s a decision to be considered very carefully. 

Turning down a job offer – the right way

Rejecting a job offer is a normal thing to do, and something that does happen for a variety of reasons. If you are professional and respectful of the company’s timelines, then there is no reason why turning down their offer should burn a bridge. 

With that said, there are some best practices for rejecting a job offer professionally. The first one is timeliness — as soon as you have decided to reject a potential job offer, you should let the company know your decision by phone or email. (Unless it significantly delays your ability to respond, call.) The company probably has other candidates in mind and is more likely to be able to hire one of them if they know as soon as possible that you’ve decided not to accept the offer. Acknowledging that with a timely response is considerate.

You should give the company you’re turning down a reason for your decision, but you don’t need to go into the details. If you have decided to accept an offer from a different company, you can let them know that. Other potential reasons are wanting to focus on another area of work that is not represented in the role you’re turning down, not coming to mutual terms on salary or benefits, or an inability to relocate for a job that requires it. 

Finally, thank the company for their time and leave the process on a positive note. For example, you could say “I really appreciate the time you spent talking with me about the work you are doing at Company X, and I’m looking forward to continuing to follow your progress on Project Y. Best of luck in filling the position, and I hope we cross paths again.”

Honoring NDAs

NDAs, or non-disclosure agreements, are legally binding documents. Many people sign an NDA when they begin a job, but it’s possible that you will be asked to sign one at various points in the interview process: when you receive an offer, when you interview or submit sample work, sometimes even when you walk into the building.

Keep records of any NDAs to which you have agreed, and ensure you read them thoroughly and understand their contents before you sign them. Keep these agreements in mind when you are evaluating job offers — and during any negotiations. Be careful not to reveal anything about another company that could violate any NDAs you have signed with them, even if it provides leverage in negotiations, as doing so could have legal and professional consequences. Showing respect for another organization’s NDA reflects well on you in all circumstances, because it shows that you understand the importance of those agreements and respect the obligations laid out in any documents you sign.

This can all feel like a lot to balance, especially if you have never dealt with multiple job offers before. Remember that handling these situations is a part of the business world, and that if you approach them with professionalism there is no reason why declining a job offer now should damage your relationship with any company. If you have questions about how to best negotiate job offers that weren't addressed here, this post has great tips for evaluating job offers.

And, finally, congratulations on landing multiple job offers! We commend your hard work, and can’t wait to see where you go from here. Happy negotiating!

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