John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker LLC
Not getting an offer might be the smarter move.
It sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Why would you not want an offer?
The issue is not whether you want an offer, but whether you want an offer right now. Deciding whether you do is the hard part.
Ask yourself: “Do I want an offer I can say yes to?” In other words: “Am I prepared to say no to any others?” If you can’t say yes to that, maybe you’re not ready to have that offer in your lap.
Once you have it, the clock starts ticking. You know it. Whether the deadline is short (as smart employers insist) or “get back to us when you can”, it’s ticking. If there’s anything else on your plate that isn’t fully explored, you could end up saying no to it, by default. If you’re not ready to do that, maybe you’re not ready for the offer.
It’s assumed that competition can result in higher pay. Maybe, but not by much. And certainly not enough to risk the bidding war that can too easily leave a bad taste in the mouth of an employer – even the one you chose.
All in all, you can end up with comparable pay and a deeper reservoir of goodwill as you join a new practice. That goodwill can make it easier to get off to a good start there.
In an odd way, engaging in salary negotiations with a single would-be employer – and making it clear that you are – can actually give you leverage. It simply turns out to be a smoother process, emotionally, if you begin with your choice having been made that this is the practice you want to join. The employer has already made this choice about you. Your evidence is the offer they want to make. You are more likely to walk in with a perfectly satisfactory comp package if you focus on the fact that this is the right match.
“OK,” you say. “And how do I handle this with an employer?”
Sooner or later it will be clear that an offer is pending. Maybe they actually say, “We want to make an offer.” Be candid: “I want you to know that I’m attracted by the opportunity here. I know that employers don’t like bidding wars and so I’m going to consider an offer only when I’m ready to say no to everything else.”
They’ll appreciate it. They’ll ask you what you think the timeline will be. You must respond with a reliable date. If you find that you really can’t set one, you may have evidence that this practice doesn’t have the juice to capture your attention. Time to say, “No thanks.” And move on.
Do you run the risk of losing the opportunity altogether? Not as much as you might think. The employer has made his choice, remember? There’s a built-in period of time the employer can delay. Why not use that time to complete your due diligence on anything else and then come back (if you choose) to work out compensation details?
Enough is enough, of course. And every employer will run out of patience. But if you don’t see enough in Employer A to let go of Employer B, or C, or …. you’re better off not having an offer than saddling yourself with a decision you have to make that is more than likely going to be no, in the end.
It’s sort of like the preacher asking whether you “forsake all others”. If you’re not ready to say Yes, maybe you’d better not walk down that aisle.