What is the etiquette of asking an employer to wait before making a hiring decision?

I presently work at Bob’s Circus of Terror. The pay is pretty good, but my boss is pure evil and the hours suck. I’ve decided that I’m perfectly content to take a cut in pay - even in this economy - in order to have more job satisfaction and avoid doing anything potentially unethical or even illegal.

I applied to Marv’s Palace of Wonder and Jane’s House of Mediocrity. Either one would pay a satisfactory salary, and the benefits of each are fairly similar. However, the work at Palace of Wonder is far more interesting and has much more room for advancement, whereas House of Mediocrity is a simple front desk job that likely won’t go anywhere. Clearly, I want to work for the Palace of Wonder, though I’d certainly take the House of Mediocrity over what I’ve got now.

I had a great interview at both. PoW told me that I’m on the next step of consideration, with narrower competition. I’m not sure if there will be another interview or not, but they said they hope to make a decision by November 30. On the other hand, HoM wants somebody to start immediately, and they plan to make a decision by the middle of next week.

Nothing has been guaranteed yet, obviously, so I don’t want to burn any bridges in any direction. BUT… suppose that HoM offers me the job right now and I want to wait until Nov. 30 to see what PoW will say?

Is there a polite and professional way to ask them to wait - preferably, a way to ask that would not screw my chances of accepting their offer if it turns out that I don’t get the job at PoW? Could I just simply tell them, “Thanks for the offer, but I will need some time to think about this?”

Employers pretty much think only of their interests. Particularly for the front desk job, it’s very unlikely that you’re so much better than the other candidates that HoM hld the job open for you and put up with a vacancy in their schedule for an extra 2 weeks. If, by luck, the person you’re replacing hasn’t left yet, and plans to leave on 30 Nov, then it might workl out. But low-end jobs tend to be no-notice vacancies.

So your best (still not very good) avenue is to ask PoW to lay their cards on the table now. They may; they may not.

HoM may need someone before Thanksgiving, so, if you ask them to wait until after the 30th, you may lose the job. On the other hand, when I’ve applied to more than one job, I have told the companies I’m applying to that I have applied elsewhere. Rather than asking HoM for a later start, I’d tell PoW that, while I genuinely would like to work for them, HoM has made me an offer or is in the process of making one. If you’re lucky, they’ll say, “What?! No! We can’t let a wonderful candidate like you get away,” and make you an offer. It might at least get them to move a little faster.

When you applied at HoM, did you list a date you can start on? If you did and it was before November 30th, asking for a later start date could look bad.

I said December 1st was my earliest availability. So, if they do offer me the job, this shouldn’t really be an issue.

LSLGuy, I really doubt that PoW will be willing - or even able - to hire me if I try to force their hand now or very soon. For one thing, their decision-making staff will be out of the office for the next 10 days and will be out of contact during that time.

If it adds anything to the discussion, the companies are in completely different industries: HoM is eye care, PoW is aviation/entry-level tech writing.

That’s a difficult position with no easy answer. I think you have to ask yourself what would you regret more - not getting either job and staying in your current position or getting a more satisfying job, but not a great job.

Some possible solutions:

-Ask HoM for an extension. The worst they can say is no.
-Ask PoW to hurry their decision
-Take the HoM position and be willing to put them in the lurch if PoW comes through. (Normally, I wouldn’t recommend this, but 1) this is about your happiness, so be selfish and use HoM if you have to and 2) they are in different sectors, so burning HoM wouldn’t necessarily affect your reputation.)

I wouldn’t normally advise taking the first job and quitting two weeks later, either, but you do have to look out for yourself. It’s not unheard of for people to take a job and for it to not work out for any number of reasons from either side (hence the usual three month probationary period).

If you do take Job A with a Dec. 1st start date, then call them up on Nov. 30th and say you can’t take it after all, well, they won’t like it, but tough noogies, eh?

This appears like a nasty thing to do but in the grand scheme of things employers operate in their own interests and so should you. It may be true that it’s now a burned bridge but if that’s a risk your willing to take you should have no hesitations about doing so.
I interviewd my way up the chain at a company, got the offer, accepted, and was ready to come in and do the paperwork when a better offer came along. I had no problem telling them “sorry, better offer came along”.

Having been in that position a few times, the short answer is “no”. There is no good way to tell an employer that you are continuing to shop around but you would be willing to work for them if your other opportunity doesn’t work out.

You can string them along for a couple of days up to about a week. But if you wait too long, they may simply decide that you don’t share their passion for working there.

I realize the working middle class mantra is “don’t burn any bridges” but who gives a shit about a bridge you never plan to cross? What are they going to say (and to whom)? “Oh yeah, I know Xavier T. Nougat. We tried to hire him five years ago but quit after a week for some better job he really likes.”

There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a job and then quitting if the job you really want comes along. It happens all the time.

This is what I would recommend.

I agree with this. Forget about probation - I know of companies who offered someone a job and then withdrew it before they started.

I’d tell PoW that I was taking another job because of the time constraint, but that I’d love to work there. Maybe they’ll say yes, maybe they’ll just drop it. As for moving, in this economy there is no doubt five or six people stacked up to take the HoM job, already interviewed, so it probably won’t go unfilled long.

The fact is you owe nothing to anyone. Whoever offers the job first, take it. Then if the other offer comes through tell the first guy, you won’t be taking his offer after all.

Now it doesn’t matter, an employer would fire you without giving you a second thought. So you do what’s best for YOU and don’t worry.

I’ve done it before, I had a job with Radisson and then two weeks later a job at Sheraton came up that was beter. They weren’t happy about it but it was the better offer.

You have to look at it like this, business have one job and you are in competiton for that jobs with others.

YOU have services to offer and business are ALSO in competiton for YOUR services.

Take the first job offered and if when the second one comes through say “You know I’m sorry but this job is just not working out.”

You don’t owe them an explination, but if you feel say something say “You know I feel the comany and I aren’t a good match. And since I am so new it still should be easy to replace me before too much time is invested in my training. I’m sure you still have all the other candidates you already interviewed.”

And then leave.

I’ve been a manager and I’ve run across this before, you know when you’re a manager what the hiring and staffing process is like. Especially when I was the overnight manager, this was way common. People who thought they’d have no trouble working third shift just can’t adjust.

It was common for women to think “Oh I can work at night when my husband is home with the kids and then be home with them and sleep.” I know from experience, kids don’t let mum sleep :slight_smile:

If they wanted to be sure to retain your services, they’d offer you a contract that specified how much notice you had to give, etc. I say accept, and then decide what to do later if the other offer comes in.

If the first place offers you the job, take it. Then if the second offer comes through and you want it, ditch the first place and take the second job.

You might think this is unethical or unfair. Well, maybe it would be except that companies are psychopaths (as this book makes abundantly clear). Companies are perfectly happy to mistreat people, exploit them unfairly, promote or punish arbitrarily, lay people off at the drop of a hat and otherwise behave appallingly. This being so, there’s no reason to approach this on any basis except doing what’s best for you. And if the book that I’ve linked to doesn’t persuade you, try that very popular ‘F my life’ website and look at the ‘Work’ section.