Congratulations! You received a second job offer within hours of the first and can use one for negotiating with the other before you have to make a final decision. Here are some guidelines on how to negotiate multiple job offers professionally and effectively. All of these points apply whether you are talking it through with your recruiter or negotiating with the company directly… but it is always nice and usually extremely effective to utilize the expertise of a recruiter in your particular niche.
As we all learned in kindergarten, never lie. When you negotiate multiple job offers, fabricating some portion of an offer or even a second offer itself, will catch up with you and will hurt your career. Someone will ask you detailed questions and if you have to make them up on the fly, you will get caught in the lie, and you will lose the offer.
For some reason people think giving the details about another offer isn’t ethical or the right thing to do. Wrong! Giving exact details of a competing offer adds credibility to the fact of the other offer and to your value in the marketplace. It makes you seem more honest and more desirable and is the strongest method to effectively negotiate multiple job offers.
“Gives Me Pause”
Offer A is the right job with the right company with the right people. Offer B is more money or more benefits or both but you don’t like the job as well. Tell Company A every detail about Offer B except that you don’t like the job, company or people as well. This is not lying. This is withholding information. If Company A asks you how you feel about the job at Company B, tell the truth. You don’t like the job as well as Company A, but the compensation difference gives you pause. Use that exact term, “gives me pause.” Then stop talking until Company A says something. What you do next will depend on their response.
This is the critical juncture when you negotiate multiple job offers. You need a feel for whether your desired company can compete with the secondary offer. Don’t specify what you want, first see where they might have some flexibility. Often Company A will say, “Let me see what I can do,” or “We can’t do anything on the base, but maybe I can get you a signing bonus/different title/more vacation.” If they aren’t more specific, but seem open to discussion, be prepared to state what you would like to sweeten Offer A.
Your Negotiating Approach
Your approach will vary based on whether you really need something to take Offer A. If you plan on taking Offer A even if Company A doesn’t come back with anything, say, “Would it be possible to get the title upgraded from Senior Manager to Associate Director?” or “Is there room for $2000 more in the base salary.” Or “Could I get a six month raise review?”
If you really need something to take Offer A, whether you take Offer B or not, state your case matter-of-factly and in detail. “I think your company/job/people, are terrific and I’d love to come work there, but I’m seriously considering Offer B, too.” Then tell them what you need specifically to take Offer A.
Do Not Have Multiple Negotiating Conversations
Negotiating an offer should be one or two conversations at most. If Company A gives you what you want, you must immediately accept the offer. That’s why being prepared in negotiating multiple job offers is so important. Trying to negotiate for more in a second conversation will annoy your target company, definitely lose you some goodwill and might lose you the offer. If Company B is second choice and can’t do anything via the offer to get you to go there, don’t negotiate, just turn down the offer once you have resolved things with Company A.