April 20, 2015

Push Hard to Get The Best Offer

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics there were 5 million job openings in the United States in January 2015, the highest number of openings since January of 2001.

Serious job seekers are getting interviews and job offers in record numbers.

The US unemployment rate has dropped to 5.5%.  California added 29,400 jobs in February and 39,800 in March.  During the past year California added more jobs than any other state (+476,400), beating Texas (+357,300) and Florida (+266,600).

When the market heats up, as it is right now, candidates find themselves with multiple job offers.  But they don’t necessarily come in at the same time.  The problem arises when the job you really want, with the company that really excites you is slower in extending an offer.

It happens like this - you interview well with several companies and the first offer that rolls in is not the most desirable one.

One job seeker had an offer on the table with a large consulting firm but he really wanted to work for the government agency he interned with. He had already interviewed and scored high enough to be hired in a permanent career position with the agency at graduation.   He knew that everyone from the top down liked him but no offer was on the table from the California Department of Water Resources.  Government moves at a glacial pace when it comes to hiring.

What should he do?  He had an offer in hand and was afraid to let it slip away.  Was it better to accept the first offer?

An experienced candidate worried that he had to take the first offer. He interviewed with three companies and received an offer from a SF high tech start-up.  Two Seattle companies he had interviewed with had not yet extended offers.  His preference was Nintendo… duh…  He was waiting patiently just hoping that Seattle would somehow materialize before the deadline for his acceptance from the SF firm.

A postdoctoral candidate with a PhD in physics received an offer from Stanford but really wanted to work at Lawrence Livermore National Labs.  He had been told in his interview at LLNL to “let them know if anything came up”.  He had no idea what that meant.

My advice in all three instances was to call and let the preferred employer know that an offer was on the table.  In all instances the preferred employers came through with immediate offers that matched or exceeded the first offers.  Nothing sets a fire under a hiring manager or human resources like an offer from a competing employer.  Even government can be given a push to act once you have an offer of employment to leverage your position with. You are in demand and the suitors need to know that they are going to lose out on hiring a talented worker if they don’t move fast.

Three happy campers are now off to their first choice employers!  Why?  Because they made the phone call and asked for an offer.

Here are the rules:

1. You do not have to take the first offer.  Having an offer should raise your confidence level… (Yes, somebody loves you)!  You are a multi-talented individual with much to offer.  Never forget that!  It doesn’t matter if you are a new graduate or a highly experienced candidate - you should be chasing the best offer not necessarily the first offer.

2. Once you have one offer on the table you are in a powerful position.  Nothing raises your stock value like letting someone know that others are pursuing you.

3. Let companies know that you are in demand.  Action is required. Call and ask if they plan to come through with an offer.  Yes it is okay to call and push - politely.
Say something like, “Hi, I just wanted to check to see if you intend to make me an offer.  I have an offer on the table from another company and I’d really like to work for Nintendo.  Did you plan to extend an offer to me?”

I know this is an uncomfortable call to make… but it is well worth the effort, if only for your peace of mind.  You want to know that you have done everything you can to get the preferred offer.  Yes, you can email but you know how email gets lost… so do both if you must!

Just make the call!

Cici Mattiuzzi is the author of "The Serious Job Seeker", now available online, in book form and as eBook at Amazon.com.

"The Serious Job Seeker" phone app organizing tool will be available in May at Google Play and at the Apple Store.