This is a conundrum I have seen quite often as a career coach and it is not an easy question to answer.
Dear Coach Joan,
I just received an OK job offer, but I think I might be getting a better one soon.
Should I accept this offer or wait for the better one?
The difficulty lies in the fact that I do not have a crystal ball, and neither do you.
What if you accept the job and just a few weeks later the better offer comes in?
And what if you turn down the job but the better offer never appears?
OK, so barring our inability to predict the future, how do you consider a good job offer when a much better one might be coming soon?
. Here are some strategies and considerations:
1. Try to Buy Time to Respond: If the better offer could just be a week off, you can see how long you can stretch out your decisions time.
Don’t ask for too much time as the organization might sense you are not interested enough and might opt for Candidate B.
Then, play the new offer against the potential one. Call the contact from the company you are most interested in and let them know you have
an offer on the table. If they are very interested in you but just not in a hurry to extend an offer, this might prompt them to move quickly and offer you the job.
2. How long have you been unemployed? If it is more than 6 months or if your savings are getting depleted and you need to work asap,
then consider taking this job. It’s a good job, yes, but not your ideal position. But you can look look at your career as having a stair-step approach to success. That means, you do not give up on your ideal job, but you take interim steps in your journey getting there. You are always more attractive to potential employers when you have a job and if this new position offers you changes to grow and demonstrate new and valuable skills, it could be just the right opportunity at the right time.
3. Negotiate For a Better Offer: Maybe you can help make the offer that is on the table more attractive. If you have some confidence that another offer is coming in you can share that information and tell them it would be a lot more attractive if you were offered a higher salary or more vacation time, a better title, or opportunities to do more travel or learn certain skills or manage people or whatever it is that would make the job more attractive to you; and hopefully make you more attractive to future employers.
When presented with crossroads in life it can be difficult to make a decision because we just can’t see what’s around the next bend! It is difficult to turn down a job when you think a better one is coming, but it is sometimes smarter to go with a ‘bird in the hand’ and sometimes that bird flies higher and leads to new and better opportunities. Yet sometimes having patience leads to better opportunities. Think it over, Terry, and try to weigh the considerations that are most relevant in your situation. I always like to say that when I’ve thought out a solution, whether it turned out well or not, given what I knew and felt at the time I made the best decision I could. Perhaps that bit of philosophy will help, too.
Onward in your career success,