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I have a job offer -- do I tell other companies?

Dear Evil HR Lady,

After what seems like an interminable period of job-searching, I finally have a job offer in hand. Yeah! The salary is good (although not spectacular), but it's a job I'm very interested in doing and it's a good fit. I've known the hiring manager for years and am excited about it.

However, last week I interviewed for another job which would also be a spectacularly good fit, and most likely more money. They told me I was one of three very strong candidates. I was the first of the three to interview, and they said they would be meeting to make decisions at the end of next week. After going through the nightmare that is job-hunting, I know that saying they'll decide next week doesn't mean they actually will. 

Should I just take the first job? Should I try to put off the first job until the second makes a decision? I don't want to burn bridges with either company, as I would love to work for both, if not now then in the future. 

First, congratulations on the new job! Second, I"m glad you're thinking about what to do with the other company you have potential with. Even though many companies don't bother to let candidates know when a position has been filled, you're smart not to just disappear.

I want you to think about something: You've known the hiring manager from the first job for years. Has he gone to great lengths to get you this job? Will turning down this job ruin the relationship?

You are, of course, not required to accept any job. But, if strings have been pulled, you do take the risk that your opportunity to work for this company (or for this person) in the future may be damaged by turning down this job. If you're just going through normal recruiting and networking with the other job, withdrawing won't damage your reputation at all.

But if you would take the second job if it is offered to you, then it's time to be upfront and honest with the second company. I like upfrontness (is that a word?) via email. That way the person has time to think and ask colleagues and such before answering you. If you call up and say, "Hey, I have another job offer, are you going to offer me a job, too?" the answer will most likely be, "Well, congratulations, thanks for letting us know." Click.

So email it is. How about something like this:

Dear [Hiring Manager],
[Paragraph 1 where you write nice things about the position, you and why you are a great fit.]
I've received a job offer from another company. I need to give them an answer by [date]. I am still very interested in the [position] at [your company]. Could you please let me know if it would be possible to have a decision from you by [date]?

If they respond with a "yes, we can do that," super! You can wait until that date and then make your decision. If they respond with, "No, I"m sorry." Then you respond very politely with something along these lines:

Thank you so much for letting me know. I am officially withdrawing my application for [position]. I sincerely enjoyed meeting with you and hope we can work together at some future date.

Then you send a LInkedIn invitation to that hiring manager and make sure you keep in touch. You want her to still be thinking of you when she needs someone with your skills in the future.

Have a workplace dilemma? Send your question to

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