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There are multiple lecturer openings in the UK that are very relevant to my work, say posts A and B. I prefer B over A, but B's application deadline is a about 2 months after A's.

If I apply for both posts, there is a chance I might be accepted for A while I am still waiting for a response from B. In that case, how should I react and what should I do if I get a positive response from B after I have accepted the offer from A?

My question is particular to the UK. In Germany, for example, I know that people openly apply for multiple positions and leverage this for negotiations. But I am not sure if the process is the same in the UK.

  • In the US, people also apply simultaneously to many positions. The UK seems like the odd one out in this respect. – Thomas supports Monica Mar 12 '18 at 11:42
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    We use to say: "don't bandage your head before it's hurt". The typical strategy would be to use the offer received to ask the other position to see whether they can reach a decision sooner. In the meantime you can try to lengthen the process by negotiating, asking questions, "taking some time to make your mind up", asking your partner, etc. – TheWanderer Mar 12 '18 at 11:44
  • @TheWanderer Although I appreciate that your comments are helpful for the OP, it is also worth to consider the effect that such delay strategy has on the Department and on the less successful candidates. – Dmitry Savostyanov Mar 12 '18 at 12:45
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    @Thomas: No this sort of thing goes on in the UK regularly too – Conrad Mar 12 '18 at 14:31
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    @Conrad I mean that the UK is the odd one out in that they run job searches throughout the year, rather than following a fixed annual cycle. – Thomas supports Monica Mar 12 '18 at 17:07
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how should I react and what should I do if I get a positive response from B after I have accepted the offer from A

This should not happen except in very rare circumstances. The typical UK hiring timeline is the job is announced with a known interview date and an offer will be made within days (sometimes hours) of the interview. They would then expect you to verbally accept the offer within days and then ideally present you with a contract a day or so after that.

The conventional wisdom is that after getting the contract, you should withdraw your other applications. If you verbally commit to A, but A cannot generate a contract in a timely manner, then most people (but not necessarily the people at A) will understand if you accept another offer. I am not a huge believer in the conventional wisdom. A good job offer can be your job for the rest of your life and to turn down your dream job in your dream department at your dream university in your dream city with great resources and salary and a position for your partner for a job you do not want to do with crappy resources and salary in city you hate, in my opinion is not reasonable. To screw over a department because someone else offered you a step higher on the salary scale also does not seem reasonable. In other words, you need to use your judgment to decide what to do.

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Your question: how should I react and what should I do if I get a positive response from B after I have accepted the offer from A?

Answer: How would you react if you were responsible for recruitment A and a candidate has in mind the sort of plan you are describing?

You might find that the situation is as much about your UK colleagues as about your own reaction. From experience, the priority for your 'reaction' is to be totally transparent and honest with A colleagues about your application from the very start of the recruitment process A.

Then you leave it for colleagues to be accommodating with your situation. They may take a bet on your application if they are very interested in your profile, hoping that your application B is not successful. If they are not in a position to take a bet - for whatever reason - then your honesty will make their decision easier and they should thank you for it.

If A colleagues discover late in the recruitment process that your application was not genuine but only a safety application, 'just in case' application B does not work out, they might be left rather unimpressed with your approach to the entire recruitment process. This would contribute in yourself building a bad name in what is usually a close-knit and networked community where word-of-mouth goes round very quickly.

In short, honesty and transparency.

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