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The Big Q: I’ve been offered a job with my second choice. How long should I wait for the first?

Posted on 18/05/2021
by Client Server

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Q: After working as a developer for the same company for ten years, I decided it was time for a change. After dusting off my CV and working with one of Client Server’s consultants about improving my interview technique, I found myself at the final stage for two jobs.

The job with Company A is right up my alley: Lots of hands-on coding, a great salary package, easy commute and a flexible work from home policy.

Company B has a similar salary package but is further away and would want me in the office on set days every week.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like Company B and could see myself working there, but Company A is the job I really want.

As luck would have it, Company B has made me an offer. How long should I wait for Company A to get back to me before responding to Company B?


A: This is an enviable position, and one a lot of software developers find themselves in a lot. As the demand for tech talent grows, more developers and engineers will be entertaining more than one job offer at a time. The tricky balance comes when you’re offered your second or third-favoured position before hearing back from your first choice.

So, what’s the etiquette? Should you tell your second choice that they’re in the silver medal position? Should you play it cool and tell them you need “More time to think about the offer”? Or should you wait for your first choice before responding to anyone?

  • 1: Be honest with your Client Server Consultant about your preferences

During the course of interviewing, you should have been in frequent contact with your Client Sever Consultant. They would have asked you questions at every step in the interview process. Giving them honest feedback is crucial because they will be able to relay your thoughts back to the company—and that’s doubly important when it comes to offers.

  • 2: Nobody’s offended to be a second choice

Companies that hire for tech roles know how hot the market is. Most will operate under the assumption that a candidate will have more than one job hunt on the go. If they’re good enough to make an offer to, chances are another company will also see that candidate’s value and make them an offer as well.

Companies also know candidates accept and decline offers for a variety of reasons. But they will always have a contingency plan in place if their first-choice candidate rejects an offer.

  • 3: Taking time to consider an offer is important

A job offer is something that you should take time to think about. You should discuss it with your family and friends and make an informed decision. Most companies expect a candidate to pore over a written job offer before making a final commitment. Taking two-three days to do this is completely fine, so long as you keep the lines of communication open.

The last thing a company wants is to make an offer and then get silence back from you. You need to keep everyone in the loop, even if that means telling them you’re waiting to hear about an alternative job.

Remember:

  • Be honest about your job preferences
  • Taking two-three days to consider an offer is normal
  • Keep everyone in the loop

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