How to negotiate and evaluate more than one job offer

You’re interviewed at several companies and now you have two offers. It’s a position that 59% of job seekers have found themselves in, according to a new survey from Robert Half.

It’s a great position to be in, but it creates its own set of problems. How long do you have to make up your mind? A majority of people (58%) said they made their decision in two days – but there’s wiggle room if you’re open with your communication. After all, there may be a few options you want to pursue: what’s the etiquette for effectively negotiating the two offers between each other? And how do you compare job offers in a way that takes the whole package into account, not just salary?

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Ladders spoke to Steve Saah, executive director of Robert Half Finance and Accounting, about how to handle competing job offers and how to decide which one is right for you.

If you have two offers and are trying to figure out how long you have to decide to pick one or the other, how much time you have “comes down to open communication and dialogue,” said Saah. “From a general common courtesy standpoint, three to four days is probably typical. But it’s not unheard of to want to extend that for a variety of reasons.”

Up-front communication with both sides is key, and you, while there’s wiggle room if you play your cards right, you don’t want to overplay your hand.

“I would advise people to use language around, ‘If this is acceptable, I’d like to get back to you around…’ and then fill in the blank around what that time frame is,” said Saah.

It’s possible to leverage one salary against the other, Saah said, if one company is offering more than the other. There’s nothing wrong with “educating” the other company about the other salary and letting them know about what it would take for you to “come on board,” Saah said. But he encourages candidates to look beyond simply compensation.

“While everybody would like to make more money, the ultimate thing is, what are the most important things that are most critical to them? What type of advancement opportunities are there within the organization? Work-life balance, flexibility, the ability to telecommute are all very important to people in today’s market. What are the long-term prospects at Organization A versus Organization B?”

Not all compensation packages are created equal

“People tend to compare base salary to base salary. While cash flow is extremely important, there are so many other components of a salary package that you should be taking into consideration so that you’re making a true apples-to-apples comparison.”

Consider, for example, the quality and the cost of healthcare between the two organizations.

Said Saah, “While compensation is always important, I think it’s better for people from a long-term career perspective to take a little bit of a step back and think about what’s most important to them and allow those things to drive their decisions.”

“It’s really important for people to step back and look at the total package when evaluating multiple offers.”

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