Negotiating multiple job offers


For those searching for a new job, receiving more than one offer is an enviable problem to have. But comparing offers and deciding which is best for you can be stressful. Looking at the whole picture — not just the bottom line — can help you reach the right decision.

Begin by deciding what’s important to you in a work environment. “Money should be the last piece in the equation,” says Gerlinde Herrmann, chair of the Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario and president of The Herrmann Group in Toronto, a provider of talent management solutions.

“It’s rare to see huge differences in compensation from one offer to another,” she says. “Understand what makes you tick and what kind of environment makes you thrive.” Think about what’s missing in your current position and which boss is closer to your ideal.

Request a lunch with your potential coworkers to find out what they’re like. “Your coworkers can make or break you in many instances,” Herrmann says. “Try to find out what they like and don’t like about the company … which may require reading between the lines.”

Making a pros-and-cons list for each job may help you compare offers. If you really want to work for one company but its offer falls short, say so. But keep negotiations positive. Don’t tell a hiring manager, “This company is willing to pay me $5,000 more,” Herrmann warns.

Instead, ask your top choice if they would be willing to move their offer up one or two percentage points or if they’d be willing to review it in six months — once you’ve had an opportunity to prove yourself. “I’m big on being open and presenting (a proposal) in a non-competitive manner,” Herrmann says.

Never ignore a hiring manager’s call. Let them know if you are exploring another opportunity and where you are in negotiations. “That may help move things along a little more quickly so you’re able to compare offers on a more even playing field,” Herrmann says. “A good HR professional or recruiter would ask what would pull you in their direction.”

If necessary, request a little more time to think about an offer and follow through. Let the hiring manager know that when you reach a decision, you want to be 100% certain.

Once you’ve made your decision, don’t back out — even if someone comes back with a sweeter offer.

“You never renege on an offer once you’ve accepted an offer. Technically, you can be sued … but more importantly, your reputation is at stake,” Herrmann says. “It really is a small business community.”

It’s better to thank a hiring manager for their offer and explain that you can’t leave your new employer in the lurch. Let them know you’d like to keep in touch and keep your word. “Don’t burn your bridges,” Herrmann says.

“Even if you choose to stay with your current employer, knowing your market value can be helpful,” she says.

“Your employer may not be able to match the offer, but could perhaps offer you new work experiences or training that would help you broaden your resume.”

Things to consider

Negotiating multiple job offers? Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario recommends considering the following criteria:

– Financial: Salary and general policy on salary increases based on merit and/or bonuses, stock options, savings, signing bonus.

– Benefits: Pensions, medical, dental, life insurance, sick time, personal leaves, relocation allowance.

– Hours of work: Vacation entitlement, flexible hours, statutory leave policies, transfers, relocation policies.

– Lifestyle: Position description and responsibilities, hours of work, travel and automobile expense policies. Does the job fit into your career objectives, and is travelling required?

– Culture: Corporate culture and mission of the organization, size and organizational structure.

– Location: Distance from home, availability of services nearby, ergonomics, size and location of your work station.

– Training and Development: Type of training, memberships in industrial or professional associations, education assistance.

– Autonomy: How much supervision you would be under? Would you supervise others?

– Policies: Employment policies and termination policy.