You’re probably thinking: How hard can it be to accept a job offer? Just say “yes!” and go celebrate. Well, if this is THE job you were hoping to get, and the salary is right, then yeah, it is a no-brainer.
But consider this scenario: You were chasing down more than one job, and one of them is clearly the better than the others, and you feel you have good odds of landing it. But then, one of the other ones comes thru with an official offer. What do you do?
First, here is what you do NOT say: “Well, there’s this other job that I’m hoping to get, and it’s a lot better than yours, so I need to hold off until they decide. But if they don’t hire me, I’ll come and work for you.” That response is just one notch away from an outright insult.
Barring that response, you basically have two options: stall; or accept it with your fingers crossed. To stall means that you – very diplomatically – ask for some time to make a decision. (Actually, you’re waiting to see if your top choice comes thru.) The finger-crossing option means that if your top choice does come through, you resign from the other job before you ever start.
Which option to choose? It depends on several factors.
First: what you think your odds are of getting an offer for your top choice? If high, then stalling is clearly better.
Secondly, what kind of job is your early-arriving #2 choice? If it’s a short-term contract job, then there should be less guilt associated with reneging. In fact, most agencies recruiting for short-term contracts in cities like Houston will not accept stalling; if you want the job, you must accept it on the spot, without hesitation or pause. If you stall, they just go to the next guy/gal and offer the job to them.
The natural human tendency is probably to accept the first official offer that comes around, regardless of how lousy a job it is, and deal with the consequences later if your #1 choice comes thru. It kinda falls under that old saying: “it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.” It’s natural to feel that stalling is wishy-washy and indecisive, and that’s not a good foot to start out on with a brand new job.
But for a permanent salaried position, it really isn’t like that. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask for a few days to ponder your options before you give an answer. They understand that you are very likely looking at other positions, and they want you to feel comfortable, too.
But for temporary contract jobs, it’s a jungle out there; it’s each man for himself.
Once conclusion that can be drawn from this discussion is that fast-moving employers have a distinct advantage. The early bird gets the worm. Thus, companies who can quickly size up their candidates and make an offer have much better odds of getting the best people. Are you listening, Houston employers?