Archive for ‘Offer Stage’

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Handling Multiple Offers

At the peak of the bubble, top candidates were receiving up to ten offers. Is that a good thing? Yes and No. Since we are again in a period of multiple opportunities, it makes sense to re-visit the issue.

Of course it is good to have multiple companies interested in you from an ego standpoint, and it doesn’t hurt the negotiation leverage either. But the problem is that if you let all those deals go to offer stage, you can only take one job and therefore; you now have nine managers that do not have a fond memory of you. There is a better way.

If handled properly, you can have ten managers think well of you rather than just the one that hired you. As we mentioned, the hiring process is just as stressful and emotional for the hiring managers as it is for you. If you can decrease the negative impact of you not taking their job, you will be perceived in a much better light. Any interaction you have with managers and interviewers will create an impression. You always want these impressions to be positive. The community in your local professional field is not that huge, so chances are you will run into some of these contacts again. If you let an offer go out from a company you knew you would not work at, you are unnecessarily creating a less than positive impression with that hiring manager. Maybe they had to go to their VP to press for a higher than typical salary level to entice you to join. Now they have egg on their face, since you turned it down anyway.

So here is the deal. It is fine to get companies to want to hire you, just don’t make them go to the trouble of putting together an offer you never intend to take. The ideal approach is to evaluate the opportunity prior to receiving an offer. Once you have decided which opportunity is the best one for you, you proceed to the offer stage with that company and professionally request that the other companies refrain from making you an offer at this stage. You don’t have to close down all the options, it is good to keep the 2nd and maybe 3rd deal live as back up until you receive the written offer. The companies that you know you would not work there, you should be professional and tell them “I appreciate your interest but I have decided not to proceed with XXX” . Now if you run into the manager of XXX a couple years down the road at a great new start up, he won’t remember you as the guy that turned him down, but rather as someone he wanted but it didn’t work out.

In summary:

multiple companies interested in hiring you. Good.        Turning down a lot of offers.     Bad

BTW: some companies make offers anyway. As long as you have asked them not to proceed to offer stage, you are off the hook. Why they do it, I don’t know, since it doesn’t work.

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Offer Negotiation: the Chips are Down

Now its time to negotiate an offer, the sweat starts to pour, butterflies twitter in the stomach, and that’s just the hiring manager.

Once an offer is on the table, the pressure is at the max due to a time limit and the ramifications of a life effecting decision.

If you have a plan and process in place, the offer stage can be a painless and positive experience. Without them, not so much…..

First point, make sure you do not pre-negotiate your offer during the interview stage. If the company asks you how much you are looking for, whatever amount you answer will be your offer, no matter how badly they want to hire you. If you give them a number too high, it may preclude you from the process, even though you would want to enter into a reasonable negotiation once you realize that you like the opportunity. Too low and you are leaving money on the table. The best answer is my current salary is X and ” I hope you will make me your best offer”. Do not give a target number at this early stage.

Keep in mind that how you handle the offer stage and negotiation is the first decision you will make as an employee of the company. If you are indecisive, and difficult it may color the new managers opinion and change your first assignment from a potential team lead to a member of the team.

As I mentioned here to begin a negotiation, you must first know where you want to work. You will also need a stake in the ground, which is the reasonable amount of compensation at which you would accept the job. Not wow wouldn’t it be great if I got an FU offer. If the stake in the ground is $100k and the maximum offer is $99K, are you willing to walk away from the opportunity that you want with no second thoughts. Saying “the salary is not high enough” is not negotiating. A stake in the ground will give you a point to negotiate from and allow you to negotiate up from that point if possible.

Before you begin, you must be certain that you want the position at the company. Entering into a negotiation with offers and counter offers implies that you will accept the terms once both parties agree. It is bad form and un-professional to negotiate an acceptable package and then not accept the position. To be clear, this method will maximize the outcome with respect to compensation, while minimizing stress and pressure, but you must want the job and be ready to accept negotiated offer.

Let’s begin. First of all some basic negotiation tactics that will serve you well. Silence is your friend. The first person to speak after a term has been presented will usually be the one to compromise.

Say no at least three times and be silent after each.

Don’t be the one to start the negotiation. Let the company start with their offer. Then you will know if they are above or below your stake in the ground and can negotiate accordingly.

Once a company has decided you would be a valuable employee and are the number one choice for their position, the other value you have in the negotiation is your acceptance of the offer. This is the negotiation point that will maximize the offer and get the extra “gravy” to top off getting the position you want at a great company. Your acceptance is what you possess, to offer to negotiate up to the final number. For example; if your stake in the ground is $100K and the offer is $102K, say ” if you can hit $105K, I will accept your verbal offer pending receipt of an acceptable written offer. My start date will be xx/xx/xx.” If the manager needs approval of the VP, they can take it to them with confidence knowing they will get an acceptance, rather than hoping it will be enough, in which case they may just chose to wait and see if you take $102K.

That is the process that has proved to be effective in my experience. Not as easy to execute as to understand, but knowing how you are going to approach the offer negotiation will certainly make it less painful.

Remember, if both parties want the deal to go down and both sides are reasonable, the offer stage will proceed smoothly.

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Decision Time: Moving to Offer Stage

So you have made it through the interview process and companies are checking your references. Now is the time to decide which opportunity is the best for you.

Keeping in mind that logical decisions are preferable to emotional ones, having a structure to evaluate opportunities will minimize the emotional impact. Once you have an offer in hand, there is usually a time frame attached and now the pressure is building.

First of all, you can only take one job, so collecting offers only burns bridges and potentially limits your options in the long run. Every offer you reject will leave the hiring manager with a negative last impression. You will go from the great candidate that professionally took themselves out of the running, to the candidate that turned me down. Remember, it is an emotional event for the hiring manager as well. This will become important when you are interviewing at another start up in two years and there is the same manager you previously turned down.

A common problem is thinking that some factor will make the decision for you, such as “an offer I can’t refuse”. This is a lame approach and is leaving the management of your career in someone else’s hands. It is great for the company that can buy you, but will not produce optimal return for you in the long run.

Be logical and evaluate the opportunity based upon what creates value for your career.

Create a Matrix containing: Company, Project, C0-Workers, Technology/Skills etc… Rate each one and the one with the most pluses is the logical choice.

If all the offers were the same, where would you prefer to work? If you worked for free, which company would you work for. When you can say that I want to work for company A and I will accept a reasonable offer from them, you are ready for the negotiation stage.

Deciding this before you are handed an offer will allow your negotiations to proceed more smoothly while maximizing the result.