Dear New Shrink,

I have been interviewing for a new position and have been fortunate enough to secure several interviews. Last Tuesday, I interviewed with Company A and was told that they would make a decision in two to three weeks. On Thursday, I interviewed with Company B and on Friday was offered a position with their team. They said that they would like me to make a decision within one week. Unfortunately, I will not hear back from Company A in time to make the decision with Company B. In comparing the two companies I think there are more options for me with Company A, but I do not want to miss out on having a job opportunity as Company A has not given me an indication of whether I will receive an offer. How should I proceed with both companies?

Signed,

Debating Offers

Dear Debating,

Congratulations on your success so far. In a competitive job market you should be especially proud of your accomplishments. Nevertheless, deciding between an offer and a potential offer can be a difficult process.

First you need to gather more information. On the surface you have a basic hiring plan for Company A and a standard decision date from Company B, however, some companies have flexibility in their hiring methods. If a company is really interested in a candidate they may be able to speed up the hiring process and likewise if a company extends an offer to a candidate they really like they may be willing to extend that offer to ensure that the candidate feels comfortable with the decision they are making. This is the point in the process where you are in control of the decision you make.

Start by calling Company A to find out where you are in the process. Draft what you want to say ahead of time so you get all of your points across. Focus on expressing your true desire to join their team. Let the employer know that you have received an offer from another company but that you feel as though the mission of their company better fits your strengths and longer term career goals. You do not need to share the name of the other company and if you are asked, you are welcome to give the category of the company instead of the name. For instance, you could say, “I received an offer from a mid-size consumer products company.”

Express your interest in their company, the reasons you will be a strong addition, and your experience meeting various members of the team. Then ask if they can give you an indication of when they will make a decision regarding your candidacy. Always be sure to thank the professional for their time and consideration.

Once you gather more information from Company A, you should then contact Company B to find out more about their timeline. Be sure to express your interest in the company and the opportunity and find out whether it is possible for them to extend your decision to a later date.

It is important that you contact them sooner rather than later as this will show the employer that you are thinking ahead and gathering the resources you need to make an effective decision. Be tactful in your communications with the employer and explain where you are in your decision-making process.

Start by phoning the hiring manager or human resources contact to let them know that you are excited about the offer but need more time to make a decision. Have a specific date in mind that will allow you to gather the response from Company A as you do not want to be in a situation where you have to ask for a second extension. If the company is able to grant an extension, send a follow-up e-mail to the hiring manager confirming your conversation so you have the new date in writing.

Keep in mind that not all companies have the same flexibility in extending offer deadlines. If the position was listed as an immediate hire they may need someone to fill the position quickly and may not have weeks to decide. Good luck with your decision!

KATRINA DAVY, M.A., Ed.M, is a Santa Monica-based professional college and career counselor. She holds degrees from Columbia and Cornell universities. Send your questions to newshrink@gmail.com. All questions are kept anonymous; let us help you with your life matters!