I have a job offer but I am still waiting on another employer. What should I do?

man staring at two gadgets

I have recently been offered a job, and when I was about to agree to the terms and send my confirmation email, I got offered a chance to interview with a big company I sent my CV to months ago that I have always wanted to work for.

What I am struggling with now is that I can’t decide what the right thing to do is. The problem is that the company that already offered me a job wants an answer from me as soon as possible. Should I tell them to wait? Can I do that? I know that I need to make up my mind before the opportunity is gone, but I would really like to work for the other company. What do I do?

Kyriaki says:

First of all congrats on scoring a new job! It’s a big win considering that competition is so tough a the moment. It is very encouraging to know that you got yourself ‘in’ and you already found an employer who said yes. Having to choose between two companies is extremely stressful, and you also need to make the decision quick. This is a tricky situation, but it’s also quite common especially when you are applying for jobs at different employers. It might be a good idea not to reply to the first employer right away, instead take some time to figure out what the best course of action is.

Since you have yet to hear what your preferred employer has to say, it makes sense that you want to give it a try. However, scheduling and going to an interview will probably take a week or so, perhaps more if the company is planning to see other candidates as well.

From what it looks like you have the following options:

  • You accept the first offer and take the job.
  • Take the risk, reject the job offer and put all your bets on the other employer.
  • Explain the situation to the first employer and risk the job offer.
  • You can explain the situation to both employers and hope for the best.

Accepting the offer

Accepting the first offer means that you are abandoning all hope with your preferred employer and you should inform them of your decision. But perhaps that’s a good thing. The way I see it, working for big companies is overrated and working for a small-medium sized business - an SME - can offer you better opportunities for development.

Large companies might pay you well but can’t provide much flexibility regarding work-life balance and can be a competitive environment to work in. Not only that but most of the time they need candidates to possess relevant experience in the field. Accepting the job offer can help you build on that experience and prepare you for the next step in your career.  

Asking for more time

Asking for more time to think over the offer is another alternative solution. A single phone call or an email can do it, but this can be a bit risky. You will need to thank the employer for offering you the job but also let them know how excited you are about it. Make sure that you are not asking for more than a week because this could result in them passing you over and offering the job to another candidate.

It might be a good idea to tell the first employer that you will get back to them on a specific date. Obviously, you will have to be extra careful with this because you don’t want to offend the employer who offered you the job. They will probably figure out that you are interviewing with other companies and may not like it. But,  if the first employer accepts this, a week passes and you have no news from the second one; then you will need to make a decision and accept the offer that’s on the table.

Explain the situation

Being honest with both employers is important. Doing so will make things easier, and you will be less anxious. Choosing the big company is risky because they haven’t actually offered you a job yet. But, you don’t want to accept a job with the first employer and then quit when you get an offer from the other one. This will make you look unprofessional and could damage your reputation.

As you can see, there are a few options. The main thing you need to decide is how much of a risk you are willing to take.