Never tell an employer you're 'still waiting to hear back about another offer,' says career expert—here's why

What do you do when you get a job offer from Company A, but don't know where you stand with Company B?

This happens a lot (even in a competitive job market), and it can be stressful because maybe you're really hoping for an offer from Company B. Or, maybe you like both companies and would rather wait to consider your options.

First and foremost, never tell one company you can't give them an answer because you're still waiting to hear back about another offer.

Why you shouldn't reveal too much

If Company A learns that you're seriously thinking about other options, hiring you suddenly becomes a risk because it's assumed that they aren't your first choice. In some cases, they might even rescind the offer.

According to an MIT study, once an employer takes into consideration basic salary, taxes and benefits, the real cost of hiring someone is typically 1.25 to 1.4 times the base salary range.

So why would a company want to hire a candidate who might just pick up as soon as they land an offer elsewhere?

How to respond to the first job offer

As soon as you receive an official letter from Company A, tell them:

"Thank you so much for the opportunity. I would like some time to go through the entire written offer to see if I have any questions. Can I get back to you by tomorrow?"

(Most employers have no problem with candidates doing their due diligence, so they may even give you more than 24 hours to make a decision.)

Then, use that time to gauge your chances of landing an offer from Company B:

"I just received an offer from another company, but you are my first choice. Am I still in the running for this position? And, if so, do you have an idea of when you might make a decision?"

This way, Company B will know that they might lose you as a candidate and will be motivated to move faster — or at least tell you how much longer it's going to take.

If they can't give you a definitive answer — and you're not 100% confident you'll get the job — then the smart thing to do would be to take the job from Company A.

Here's why:

  • You might not even get an offer from Company B. Now you don't have a job at all.
  • You might get an offer from Company B, but during the (long) period of time that it took them to get back to you, you decide that you actually want to work at Company A.

The worst thing you can do is to accept Company A's offer, and then back out when you get an offer from Company B. Doing so will destroy your reputation with Company A, and you never know when that relationship will come in handy.

J.T. O'Donnell is the founder and CEO of Work It Daily, an online platform dedicated to helping people solve their biggest career problems. She has more than 15 years of experience in hiring, recruiting and career coaching. For more career tips, follow her on TikTok @jtodonnell.

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