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Job Offer: Take the Sure Thing or Wait for Something Better?

Posted August 15, 2012

You’ve been dreaming of the moment when you hear those sweet words: We want to extend you an offer! But that moment of career bliss can quickly turn to deep anxiety if the offer comes from your No. 2 or No. 3 choice.

Should you accept the sure thing or risk it all for a potentially better opportunity by declining?

It might be tempting to accept an offer with the intention of backing out later if you hear back from a better company. But it’s a small world; you never know when you’ll need to cross that burned bridge

We’ve rounded up the best advice from top career experts to help relieve some of your anxiety when you’re balancing multiple job offers:

1. Ask for More Time

You have more power than you think, says career expert Hannah Morgan, also known as Career Sherpa. Every reasonable employer expects the candidate to take some time to think about the offer. This is a huge decision – and no one expects you to jump at the opportunity.

Laura Jacobs, internship coordinator and career liaison at University of Wisconsin—Whitewater, would agree with Morgan suggests asking for more time. “Can you reasonably delay the decision until the other interviews have taken place and offers are made on those?” Jacobs suggests. Of course, this would be an ideal situation. If timing doesn’t seem to be on your side then …

2. Go for Your No. 1 Choice

You’ll never know until you try. And taking the first offer (if it’s not your No. 1 choice) means living with that decision for the rest of your career.

“If timing isn't in your favor and one of the upcoming interviews is with an organization you REALLY want to work for, then you have to make the risky choice to decline the first offer and hope for the best on the upcoming interview,” Jacobs says.

While you’re faced with this tough decision, remember that the offers on the table are not the end all, be all. If you feel confident about interviewing with your number one company, then you should go all in, especially if you’re a young professional.

You’ve likely got your family as a safety net and the fewest responsibilities you’ll ever have in your life. Work hard and take the plunge.

3. Always Keep Your Word

Jacobs along with several other career experts agree that rescinding an acceptance is extremely flighty, unprofessional and just a bad idea.

They have likely “turned other candidates loose by that point, as well as invested time and money in preparing for your arrival, so reneging on your acceptance would burn that bridge to a crisp,” Alison Green, career and management advice columnist for Ask a Manager, said in an article for U.S. News and World Report’s On Careers.

So, keep your word. Above all, don’t risk tarnishing your reputation.

photo of Ritika Trikha

Ritika Trikha

Ritika Trikha is passionate about scoping out top-notch job advice in the career-sphere to help you find a job you love. Ritika has 99 problems but an unhappy career isn’t one! She’s a writer and an optimist (and Jay Z’s No. 1 fan). When Ritika’s not writing stellar advice articles, she’s obsessing over social media. Connect with her via CareerBliss Tumblr, Pinterest and Google+! Contact Ritika at ritika.trikha@careerbliss.com.

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