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Careers & Ideas: Stuck Between Two Job Offers

Job-hunting is part of the career process that takes a little hard work and persistence. After you have interviewed and have gotten offers, how do you decide which of the job offers to take. Do you take the first thing offered to you? - Or do you hold out and wait for the job you really want?

Last year during his job search, information-technology consultant George Cresto found himself in the fortunate position of having two companies express interest in him. There was just one problem: His second choice offered him a job first, while the other firm had yet to make a decision.

And more job seekers could face this dilemma if the job market continues to improve. Juggling two potential employers can be a delicate challenge. A job seeker who botches the balancing act risks alienating both employers and ending up without either job, while a candidate who misleads a potential employer can tarnish his or her reputation across an industry.

"The worst thing to do is surprise a company who thinks you're ready to be there," says Karen Armon, president of executive-coaching company Alliance Resources in Littleton, Colo.

She suggests that candidates tell recruiters and hiring managers from the outset that they are looking for jobs at other companies. Most potential employers will appreciate the honesty.

If the less-favored firm makes an offer, career coaches advise candidates to buy time. Tell the employer you are grateful for the offer, but that you want to take a few days to consider it, discuss it with your family, or perhaps talk with some other employees at the firm. Then call the other company. Explain that you have gotten another offer, but remain interested. If the second firm can't give any indication of your status and won't speed up its process, some career coaches suggest taking the offer that is on the table.

It probably boils down to how desperate you are to get a job. Sometimes waiting just isn't an option. If you hold off potential employers, there is always the risk that you will turn someone off.


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