How to Time and Leverage Competitive Offers

interview tips Jun 01, 2022

Should you always share your competing offer details? 

The simple answer is no, but let’s dive deeper into the timing of your competitive offers and when it makes sense to share the details with your Recruiter or point of contact (POC). Of course, there will be some things out of your control when it comes to timing. However, there are a few simple strategies you can utilize to make the best decisions throughout the process.

Item #1—Hold Off!

Just because you have a competing offer, it doesn’t mean you should share the details with anyone else. Let’s say you get an offer from Amazon and you are also nearing the offer stage with Google, but Google is not quite at the offer stage. You decide to share the Amazon offer details with your Google Recruiter. Unfortunately, it ends up being lower than what Google was going to offer you initially. Now, Google has a data point that could limit your flexibility to negotiate. They may not be willing to go as high because not only is your competing offer low, but they have used it as a data point.

In the end, you may have actually been better off with no competing offer at all, providing a high anchor would have been much more beneficial. Remember the competing offer is a key data point. You want to use it strategically. If you are not absolutely sure that your competing offer is going to benefit you when negotiating with another company, just hold off! 

Item #2—When

Let’s consider two possible competing offer scenarios: 

  1. You Are Unsure—You aren’t certain if your competing offer will help you or not. In this case, you should hold off and start the other negotiating process without sharing that data point. See what the second company has to offer. Then, you can use that to determine if the details of the other offer can be leveraged. You’ll be the one with all the data and this can help you figure out your next moves. If your Recruiter pushes you for details about other offers, just tell them you are still waiting for some updated numbers and this should slow them down. Patience is always a virtue in negotiation.
  2. Your First Offer is Great—Another scenario is when you know the first offer is excellent and probably better than what you will get initially from the second competitor. In this case, you should share the competing offer. They will most certainly ask for the details in writing. Tell them these are not the final numbers, but you wanted to get ahead of it and share this information with them. Let them know you would like them to share this data with the compensation team in order to start the negotiations.

In Writing

We should quickly address this “in writing” request. You may have signed an NDA with the other company or the Recruiter has specifically asked you not to share any details. It’s okay to share. There are no trade secrets in a job offer. It’s just a job offer. These companies will try to keep you from sharing the information so you can’t leverage the offer against them by negotiating with other companies. It benefits them to keep the information secret, not you. You may feel some moral obligation not to share, but legally there isn’t really anything to worry about. 

Item #3—Timing

Rarely does the timing work out exactly as described in the scenarios above. However, you can still use some strategies to work the timing in your favor. First, you want to keep your Recruiters/POCs in the loop from the beginning. You will be setting yourself up for success. Let them know upfront that you are interviewing with other companies. Keep them updated throughout the process and inform them when you think other offers might be coming. Don’t share every detail. Only share the information if and when it will benefit you.

Another challenge to consider is how to hold off the first company who makes an offer. Going back to our Amazon example earlier, let’s say they give you an offer on Monday and want an answer by Friday. Wait until Wednesday afternoon and message them asking for a slight extension until the middle of next week. Don’t try to push it back too long. Let them know you are waiting on another offer from another company and need a little more time. Incrementally push back the deadline as much as you can to buy yourself some time. They will respond more favorably to this approach than being vague and asking for a really long extension.

There are other instances where you’ve pushed the deadline as much as you can and need to accept or reject the offer, even though you are still waiting on another offer or negotiating elsewhere. Maybe you have already started the job when a new offer comes in from your dream company. Ultimately, you have to do what’s best for you. If it truly is your dream job, accept the position and let the first company down gently. You are going to burn a bridge and it may not feel great, but you’ll likely have even more regrets if you let your dream job get away. 

Item #4—The Process

Ideally, you are getting offers from both companies and the competing offers are helping you pin the two against each other in a bidding war. This can only happen for so long before you have to make a final decision. Pick the company you want and then give them one last push:

“If we can get to X, I am going to decline the other offer and join you.”

If you have more than two companies competing for you, keep them all involved as long as possible. Don’t let any option slip away too soon. Hold on as long as you can until you get to a point where a decision absolutely has to be made on the offer to accept and the ones to reject.

Item #5—Everything Else

Here are a few other items I want you to consider when reviewing multiple offers:

  1. Manager—Your manager relationship is going to be critical to your success and happiness within a new job. You may not have a full idea of this until you start the position. However, if there are any red flags during the interview and negotiation processes, it should make you stop and think if this is the right job for you.
  2. Brand—Think about what the company’s brand will do for you, both immediately and in the long run. A big brand name like Amazon or Google in our examples will do wonders for your career down the road. A smaller company might offer you more now, but may not benefit you as much in the future. 
  1. Level & Title—Never make a decision based on a higher level or better title. Don’t let your ego get in your way. Choose based on compensation and weigh all the most important factors before making your decision.

Please watch my full video on this topic below:

For more interview tips and coaching resources, sign up on Practice Interviews, check out my YouTube channel or follow my blog.

Jeff H. Sipe

Jeff has interviewed over 1000 people in his career and previously spent five years working at Google headquarters in Silicon Valley. You likely found Jeff through YouTube and you will find the same level of dedication in his one on one practice interview sessions.

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