What was once rare is now common within the IT community -- the dilemma of what to do when you have multiple job offers coming in.
Being in demand is great! As the saying goes, "when it rains, it pours". Candidates often ask me what they should do when they are in the midst of interviewing for several positions with multiple firms and what they should do if they receive offers at the same time. My number one rule: honesty is the best policy. Keep everyone informed about where you are in your job search process. If you have several interviews on the go, and you have just met with another new potential company, let them know where you are in process with other firms (ie. just had a second interview, an offer is coming, etc...) Being professional is very important, especially in a community as small at the IT sector. Some people think it is none of anyone's business where you are in your search but being upfront and honest is never a bad thing. The agencies and companies that you are working with will 100% appreciate the candor and will often see you as a better candidate than others due to your honesty and approach. Here are some steps that will make decisions process a little easier...
1- Verbal offers - are they as good as a written offer?
Short answer is NO. Until you have all the details, a verbal offer is not binding. It does not happen often, but I have seen clients renege on a verbal offer as they lose funding during the approval process. If you do receive a verbal offer first, express enthusiasm and that you are looking forward to seeing all the details before committing.
2- Written offers - what is really being offered?
Once you have your written offers, take the time to thoroughly go over all the details. If you are missing information, don't hesitate to ask for the extra details. Offer letters often refer to policies that all employees must adhere to but they are often missing from the offer package. Ask to see these policies as they may impact your decision. Offers should contain more than just the start date and the compensation package. Packages should include role description, job title, who you report to, total compensation package including bonus payouts, share options (if applicable), vacation entitlement, benefits package, expense policy, technology policies (i.e. cell phone plan, laptops, etc..). Important policies to review are intellectual property and non-compete agreement, especially if you are working with new technologies and start-ups.
3 - Take the time to make the right decision.
The interview process is typically a long process, usually due to the client's hiring hurdles that all candidates must go through. It is a lot of hurry up and wait and then the offer comes. Typically, once a verbal offer has been extended (and clients often ask for a verbal confirmation over the phone accepting the offer), they do not give candidates enough time to thoroughly review the details. It is important to set an expectation with the client that you do need time to review and when you will have a firm answer back them. If you need extra time, let the hiring managers know. Be upfront with them they reason why. Let them know you have a competing offer and want to ensure you are considering all factors in your decision process. Clients 100% prefer to know if a candidate has a competing offer rather than be surprised down the road when you start... and then soon after quit.
4 - Develop a pros and cons list for each offer.
Having multiple offers at once is exciting and flattering and sometimes overwhelming. The best way to review offers is to create a decision matrix listing what each offer has and assigning value to each point. Factors outside of compensation that have impact on the decision may be benefits, stress level, reporting structure, projects under way, advancement opportunity, work life balance, commuting time, flexibility, etc. It is often the "soft" factors that sway your decision to take one over the other.
5 - Be professional.
Far too often, candidates that are in demand become arrogant when they receive multiple requests for interviews and then receive multiple offers. Candidates sometimes exhibit negative behaviour such as dishonesty and game playing. I agree that people must look out for themselves but there is a fine line between this point and being self-centered. Candidates should take into consideration the repercussions their actions will have on the potential employer they "game" and their career. Even though they may not end up with that firm, a client will remember how a candidate treated them and stories of unprofessional behaviour tend to get passed around, especially in a small community such as IT. Like candidates, hiring managers move from company to company, and they have a long memory, especially of those people who were high handed and unprofessional in a hiring process. Please be professional and keep all parties informed of where you are in the decision process. Honesty goes along way. So does professionalism.
6 - Once an offer has been accepted
Once an offer has been accepted, remove yourself from consideration. Notify the other would-be employers of your final decision immediately . Be professional. Don't be that candidate who takes the first offer they receive, knowing they have other offers coming, only to start one day and quit the next week. Send a round of sincere thank yous to all involved, from the agency, to the HR team to the hiring manager. Depending on your industry and skillset, as your skills continue to increase and the looming skills gap in the IT sector grows, multiple job offers may be more frequent for you in the future. While this is exciting and also tends to lead to higher pay rates, it's equally important to think of the long-term effects of your actions. Remember to continue to act ethically and be aware of the many stakeholders involved in your hiring process. The more respectful you are to them now, the more respectful they will be to you down the road.