Feature: The Winner’s Quandary

Feature: The Winner’s Quandary

Feature: The Winner’s Quandary

It’s happened to many of us. You work hard at finding a new or better job. You send out hundreds, maybe even thousands of resumes, and finally, you get a response. The interview goes well for what seems like a perfect match: you really like the employer, and its recruiter says they really like you. You’ll be getting an offer shortly, they promise, and so you wait.

But while you do, another employer contacts you and you go through the same drill all over again. Although you don’t quite have the same enthusiasm for this organization, they actually deliver: you get an offer as you walk out the door. Not unreasonably, they also ask that you give them your answer in a week. Meanwhile, you still haven’t heard from the first employer-the one you really want to work for-so what do you do?

I call this situation “the winner’s quandary.” Here’s my suggested game plan for how you handle it.

First, call the hiring manager at the employer from which you haven’t yet heard. If at all possible, call that person on their direct phone line. Second, use the following outline either in a voice mail message, if the manager fails to pick up the phone, or in your conversation with the manager, if you actually connect with them:

Step 1: Restate your interest in the opening for which you interviewed and the contribution you believe you can make to the hiring manager’s team.

Step 2: Explain that you’ve had an offer from another employer, that you have a tight timeline for response, and that you would prefer to work for the hiring manager if possible. Provide enough detail-the title of the position for which you have the offer or a description of the kind of work it entails, but not the name of the employer. This information will give your claim credibility, which is, unfortunately, necessary these days as some candidates now call hiring managers and recruiters and pretend to have another offer in the hopes of prying one out of their organization.

Step 3: Go on to say that, as you were told to expect an offer from the hiring manager’s organization shortly, you were calling to check on its status. Then, stop talking and listen.

Step 4: If the manager confirms that you were selected and an offer is in process, ask them if:

  • they know how much longer it will be until you receive it, and
  • they can do anything to help speed up the process.
  • Make sure you tell the manager the deadline for your response to the other offer, so that they can use it to hammer away at the internal holdup. You should also recognize, however, that there is some risk in this approach as the HR Department may be displeased that you contacted the hiring manager directly. Nevertheless, I think the stakes are high enough-you could lose the job you really want because of bureaucratic dallying-that the risk is worth taking.

    Step 5: If the hiring manager indicates that the organization has changed its mind and offered the position to another candidate, accept that news as gracefully as you can and hang up. I know you’ll be disappointed and even feel as if you’ve been badly treated, but do not burn your bridges behind you by flaming on the hiring manager. Circumstances can and often do change:

  • the person to whom they made the offer may turn it down;
  • the hiring manager may, at some later point, have another opening for which they think you are better qualified; or
  • the hiring manager may get promoted and remember you as someone they should have hired in the past.
  • In today’s ever changing workplace, you just never know what may happen, so you should always try to leave every personal interaction on a positive note.

    This process, of course, is not foolproof. Despite your proactive intervention and a positive response in Step 4, you still may not receive the offer you want before the deadline from the other employer arrives. At that point, you have no choice but to make a choice: you can accept the offer you have and make the best of it or you can turn the offer down and roll the dice with your preferred employer. The path you take should depend on:

  • your frank evaluation of your financial situation (i.e., can you afford to hold out),
  • your judgment of how important the preferred employer and its position is or will be for your career,
  • your candid self-assessment of how good a fit you really are for the opening and with the employer, and
  • your gut feeling about of how straight the organization is being with you.
  • If you aren’t absolutely positive about all four of those areas, take the offer you have, and do everything you can to be a success in that organization. If you are positive about all of them, on the other hand, waiting may be the better course. Do not, however, call the hiring manager again and again. They usually don’t mind getting one such call or two at the most-that shows you really are interested in the position-but they don’t like to get 3or 4 or 5 or 6 calls-as that simply paints you as desperate … and a pest.

    Difficult as this dilemma may seem when you’re going through it, remember this very important fact: you’ve just had not one, but two employers tell you they want to hire you. That’s impressive by anybody’s standards, and it’s why I call this situation The Winner’s Quandary.

    Thanks for reading,


    P.S. Please tell your friends and colleagues about WEDDLE’s newsletter. They’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness and benefit from your recommendation.

    Section Two: Site News You Can Use

    The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers launched a job board to connect employers and recruiters with individuals experienced in engineering and technology for biological, food and agricultural systems, including the association’s 9,000 members. The site offers a confidential resume database and a job agent as well as access to employment opportunities with organizations ranging from Briggs & Stratton and CNH America to Washington State University and the Catholic Relief Services.

    CareerJournal.com and ERI Economic Research Institute announced the results of their survey of executive compensation for the year ending in August, 2005. According to the survey, senior leaders in U.S. businesses saw a 7.45% jump in their total cash compensation, more than twice the increase they were offering to their employees-with, of course, a lot of talk about how their organizations must tighten their belts in order to survive. What are individual CEOs making, on average, these days? Well, they’re having to get by on just $3,647,021. If greed was good on Wall Street in the 1980’s, it appears that it’s even better in the corner suite in the first decade of the 21st century.

    Latino Hire announced the launch of its site for nonprofessional job seekers in the Manhattan borough of New York City. Jobs are posted in such fields as automotive, construction, domestic help, restaurant, retail and healthcare, but the information on each job is limited as the site also publishes the ads in a weekly newspaper distributed to Hispanic communities in New York City. In addition, fewer than 50 jobs were listed when we checked.

    The National Society for Hispanic Professionals released the results of its poll of visitors to its site. It surveyed these professionals on the key factors for career success. What did they think matters most? The largest single group of survey respondents (37%) said it was “work attitude.” It ranked higher than both “experience” (36%) and “studies” (17%). Clearly, all of these factors play a role in building a successful career, but the frame of mind you bring to work each day can, in fact, have a powerful impact on both your own performance and on how you are perceived in the workplace. Those who see their job as an opportunity to be the best they can be and who do not limit their contribution in the workplace to the strict definition of their job description will, in all likelihood, increase both the happiness and the paycheck they bring home from work. That’s true regardless of your ethnicity, age or gender.

    PennEnergyJobs.com came online to connect energy industry employers and recruiters with professionals in the fields of architecture, construction, engineering, operations, geology and geophysics, project management, safety, science, service and transportation. The site is owned by PennWell Corporation which also operates Oil & Gas Journal Online and other energy-related Web-sites.

    VetJobs.com, the military-related Internet job board exclusively endorsed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW), is permitting any company with jobs available in the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina to post jobs for free for the next 90 days. These postings will be open to the public so that anyone searching for employment in the affected counties will be able to apply. The site’s resume database will continue to be limited to veterans, transitioning military and their family members.

    Section Three: Site Profiles

    Site Insite … how well do you know the Web’s 40,000+ job boards?

    1. You’re an experienced truck driver who’d like to sign on with an organization helping out the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Which of the following sites would put the brakes on your search for a new employer?

  • Layover.com
  • JobsforTruckers.com
  • BubbaJunk.com
  • PeopleWithWheels.com
  • 2. You’re a CPA with experience as a corporate Controller. If it’s time to look for a new challenge at work, which of the following sites could you count on for help?

  • jobsinthemoney.com
  • Beancounters.com
  • CPAjobs.com
  • CareerBank.com
  • 3. You’ve built a solid record as an Oracle database administrator, but feel your current employer does not recognize your contribution. Which of the following sites would enable you to predict success in finding a more appreciative employer?

  • Ojobs.com
  • Dice.com
  • OracJobs.com
  • ERPJobBoard.com
  • (answers below)

    Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2005/6 Guides and Directories

    Career Resource Center


    Association for Computing Machinery

    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes – Part time, Contract

    Distribution of jobs: National-USA

    Number of jobs: 400

    Salary levels of jobs: $51-75K/year, $76-100K/year

    Offer a job agent: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    How long are resumes stored: 360 days

    Restrictions on who can post: Must register

    Other services for job seekers: Career information, Links to other sites with career information

    Answers to Site Insite

    1. PeopleWithWheels.com, the site of a company selling accessories for trucks, cars and trailers.

    2. All but Beancounters.com, the site of a private CPA firm.

    3. All but Ojobs.com, a job board serving those looking for a job in a country or city whose name begins with the letter “o”-I kid you not.