Career Advice Tuesday – “Making Them Wait”
May 29, 2012
I am in the process of making my first job change and I am looking for some advice. I have spent the past five years of my career working at a corporate information security position, and I am looking to transition to the world of large consulting – for both the experience, the exposure and the compensation.
I decided to interview with a few consulting firms who have advertised similar openings. One of the firms whom I interviewed with, I really liked. They have dynamic leader, a solid market presence, and they offered me a competitive compensation package. On its own merits, it is definitely an offer that I would accept and be happy with.
Toward the end of my process with them, I was the contacted by another large consulting firm, and I went on an initial interview with them – and it also went well. Although the roles are similar, the second firm is a bit more “prestigious” than the first, and in my opinion has a better external brand. After the initial interview, the internal recruiter told me that the remainder of the process would take an additional two weeks to complete.
My offer with the initial firm is roughly a week old and is approaching expiration.
I would like to know what my boundaries are here. I do not want to jeopardize my offer with the first firm, but I do not want to accept the role without hearing the second firm our, and reviewing their offer. Is asking them to wait an additional two weeks an option? Am I in jeopardy of “burning bridges”?
Any help would be appreciated.
Dear Mr. Heinz –
What your are really asking is how long is an acceptable time to “Make Them Wait” for your decision, without burning a bridge.
First some guidelines – an acceptable time to evaluate an offer is a week. If you were more senior, I could even see that 10 days could be acceptable, maybe even 2 weeks, especially if it involved a relocation. But at your level, a week is ample time – anything else is excessive and somewhat disrespectful.
The best thing that I can share with you, is that you definitely have the right to evaluate all of your options before making a job change, you have to remember that the practice leaders of these firms (who will be your managers and bosses) are highly competitive and have a good amount of pride (or else they would not be in charge). In addition, what would make losing this recruitment battle worse, is the fact that they would be losing out to one of their competitors.
So you need to be careful.
To give you some perspective, I want to introduce a scenario to you, that should be able to provide you with clarity:
You go out an interview with a company. You interview well and the company states that they like you – and they believe you are a good fit. At the end of the interview process, they basically say this – Mr. Heinz – you are an excellent candidate, have all the skills to do this job correctly, and we would want you on our team – however, in three weeks we are expecting to interview another candidate with very similar skills, compensation requirements, and personality - we would like for you to wait three weeks – so that we can compare them to you – and so that we can elect to move forward with either you or the other candidate.
How would you feel? How would you view the opportunity? Would you feel good about going to work at an employer where they have essentially told you that you may be a second choice, or a fall back option?
Chances are, your feelings would be hurt. All of the good will would be sucked out of the interview process and you would want to consider working at other places – not because of the role, but because how you were treated.
This is how the hiring manager at the other firm feels as a result of your actions and intentions.
My advice would be to accept the position with the first firm.
The roles are basically the same. You are going to gain very similar experiences. The compensation packages are going to be very similar in the end as well (within about 5K). The first firm treated you well, you were comfortable, and you liked the environment – essentially what more could you want. Large information security consulting firms basically have similar brands – and are looped together – there is essentially no branding difference between consulting firms that offer a broad range of security consulting services.
If you turn this position down, you are essentially going to “burn the bridge” because of how you handled the process.
In the future, the way to avoid this is to let all of the firms that you are interviewing with know that you are looking to make a decision by a specific date. You can tell them that you would like to have all offers by a certain date, so that you can evaluate them side by side. By setting this expectation, you demonstrate that you are a good communicator, you are well thought out in your approach, and you establish ground rules so that they can control the timeline of your hiring process
In closing, you are a first time job changer, so you should be forgiven for this. But in the future, you need to learn from this, so that you do not find yourself in this situation again in the future.
Hope this helps,