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Negotiating Multiple Job Offers Like the Boss You Are

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So you went on a spate of job interviews, and ended up with not one, but two offers. Congratulations – you’re a boss! Now comes a new dilemma: Which do you accept, which do you decline, and how do you negotiate multiple job offers simultaneously? It’s a decision that goes deeper than which job better meets your compensation expectations. Lots of skills are involved: proper timing, asking the right questions, knowing how to accept or decline a job offer properly, and more. There are lots of pitfalls to avoid, some of which Betts CEO Carolyn Betts Fleming has commented on in interviews.
 
Here are some things to think about when negotiating multiple job offers:

The complexities of compensation expectations

When salary comes up, it’s natural to have a strong response, whether positive or negative, the moment your interviewer gives you a number. But compensation is a lot more nuanced than just salary. If one of your job offers has you jumping for joy at a generous base, that might be a reason to raise an eyebrow – the high salary might be a distraction from, for example, a lackluster healthcare package. If the other offer has a low base salary but comes with a big equity package, do some digging to try to figure out if the company’s health and valuation actually makes equity a valuable form of compensation.

If one of your job offers has you jumping for joy at a generous base, that might be a reason to raise an eyebrow.

Conversely, the job with the lower base salary might make up for it, and then some, with great benefits and perks. And all of these elements – benefits, equity, etc. – should complicate your compensation expectations. It might not be the best idea to simply accept the job offer with the higher salary, as the other one might be equally appealing for other reasons.

Timing can be everything

Let’s say you’re negotiating two job offers that you received around the same time – one of which came after a comprehensive, month-long interview process, the other of which came after a quick phone screen and on-site interview that took place over the course of a week.
 
How much should you read into the length of the interview process? It could mean lots of things, but one thing to consider is that, for numerous reasons, a surprisingly fast offer might raise some red flags. Maybe the company doesn’t find the position all that valuable to the company, and thus doesn’t think it’s worth spending too much time learning about you as a candidate. Maybe they haven’t put all that much thought into what they’re actually looking for in that role, which could lead to disagreements and second-guessing down the line. Maybe they’re desperate to fill the position after several other candidates declined the offer, in which case you should wonder why that happened. A longer interview process, on the other hand, shows that the company is serious and strategic about finding the right person – assuming it doesn’t take too long, which can indicate disorganization in its own way.

A surprisingly fast offer might raise some red flags.

Full disclosure: This timing issue may not be quite as relevant to sales positions, in which it’s normal for interviews to happen more quickly.

Don’t accept or decline either job offer too fast

Then there’s the issue of your timing. When you get an offer you’re excited about, it might feel that you have to strike while the iron is hot. And it’s of course important not to keep a company waiting too long for an answer. But there might not be quite as much urgency as you think. Companies understand they’re likely not the only company you’re interviewing with. They know that taking a job can be a big move that requires consideration.
 
If you receive an offer, there’s nothing wrong with relaying that offer to another company interviewing or trying to hire you, and giving them a day or two to respond. It can even end up in a sweet counteroffer that can make your decision easier.
 
At the end of the day, you should be excited. Having multiple opportunities to choose from is a great problem to have. And with these considerations in mind, you might just find a clearer path to a solution.