Aug 1, 2013

How to Handle Interest in Various Roles

By Shaun Carpenter

The “Bird in the Hand” scenario is a pretty common situation for a job hunter, especially if you’re highly qualified within your field and in between roles. No two hiring processes move at the same speed and often you’ll want to see things through before withdrawing after one offer comes your way…especially if the other opportunity is of greater interest.  Ideally, you’d like to meet all the key stakeholders including potential supervisors, colleagues, and staff for each position, understand the business goals and future objectives of the organizations, get a clear sense of chances for progression, and then be able to compare offers, allowing you to select the role which fits best.  The odds of this all working out are actually greater than you’d expect.

I’ll often be told when interviewing a candidate, “I received a good package from my previous employer and I’m in no rush to jump at the first opportunity that comes along…” and then this is precisely what the person does.  I’m surprised by how many individuals will do the equivalent of walking down the street to the local car dealership and choosing a vehicle right off the lot in whatever color, model and specifications happen to be available.

My suggestion to job seekers is to be strategic about their career, do their homework about potential employers, consider the geographical scope they’re willing to consider and take a reasonable amount of time to make a decision on their next move, weighing all the options available, not just this week but perhaps this quarter. Networks need to be tapped into (both in-person and through social media), headhunters need to be consulted, and specific companies of interest need to be proactively targeted.

If you do find yourself in a position where more than one job prospect is appealing, be open and upfront in the interview process, and explain that you are involved in two (or more) searches.  Be honest about your timeframe for decision-making and see if it coincides with the timing of the hiring organization.  If it doesn’t, and you’re a leading candidate, you’d be surprised how the company will speed things up or slow things down slightly to ensure they have a chance to fully consider your candidacy.

If you’re working with a search professional in the process, don’t hide anything about other searches you’re currently engaged in, keep him/her apprised of any developments, and let that person help communicate to the client on your behalf. You may also want to ask the search consultant about his/her opinion concerning your chances of coming out on top on a particular competition; if you have a trusting relationship and the search has progressed far enough for the recruiter to have a clear picture of the candidate pool, you should be able to get an accurate indication which will help you decide whether or not to take the other offer that is currently on the table.

I shudder when an outstanding, highly marketable individual says that he/she needs to respond to an offer quickly and therefore can’t complete their due diligence on another opportunity.  If you’re the best candidate for the job, an employer will understand your need to take the next two weeks to thoroughly explore the options you’re considering in order to make an informed decision…a decision that won’t be regretted 6 months down the road.  Take a moment to remember that you are, in fact, in the drivers seat of that car you’re test driving.