Career Matters

Two job offers is a good problem to have

If you’re job hunting, keep searching for jobs until you receive a final offer in writing for a target job. Don’t decline job offers or quit a job for promised offers or tentative offers.

What should you do if you simultaneously receive final offers for two desirable jobs? Celebrate! Then, perhaps as you listen to that 1970s hit “Torn Between Two Lovers,” consider both jobs — comparing their responsibilities, work environments, supervisors, teleworking and childcare policies.

If one job offer would pay more than the other, you may be able to raise the salary offer from the lower paying job by asking its manager if he can match the salary of the higher paying job.

Suppose you’re offered an acceptable, but not ideal, job while you’re being seriously considered for an ideal target job that you would definitely accept. Ask the manager of the ideal job if he could inform you of his hiring decision and potentially make you an offer, which you would definitely accept, before the less appealing job requires your decision.

If you’re not legally tied to a job through, for example, a student loan repayment program, consider yourself a free agent with the right of flight at any time. Just as employers do what is best for them, do what is best for you. So even if you’ve already accepted a job offer or have started a new job, you may bolt to a better job without guilt or fear of being blacklisted from future jobs. (A federal hiring blacklist doesn’t exist.)

But detach from professional commitments responsibly and courteously: inform management at the rejected organization of your choice to change course as soon as possible, say that your decision was difficult and express gratitude for offered opportunities.

Explain to management why the offer you’re accepting better fits you without insulting the rejected organization, express regret for your late decision and explain that it was caused by the delayed timing of the new offer, if appropriate. If you’re leaving a job, don’t leave management in the lurch; tie up all loose ends.

Also, if after a job interview, you decide that you wouldn’t accept the job if it were offered to you, quickly call your interviewer and politely decline further consideration.

Lily Whiteman is the author of “How to Land a Top-Paying Federal Job.” Her web site is Ask your career questions at

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