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I've interviewed for a few positions, one of which has made me an offer. I'm very pleased with the offer, but I prefer some of the other positions. I have the luxury of being able to take a lot of time to decide whether or not I accept this offer, so I'm certain I will hear back (either positively or negatively) from the other positions before a decision is required for the offer I've received.

I'm trying to decide between two courses of action, and I want to choose the one that will best help my candidacy with the positions I've yet to hear from. Plan 1 is to do nothing and simply wait to hear back from the other positions for which I've already interviewed. Plan 2 is to be in touch with the other positions to let them know I have an offer, and ask where I stand with them.

Would Plan 2 make me a more desirable candidate with the other positions, as they might see my offer as further validation of my credentials? Or, might initiating with the interviewers in this way be detrimental to my candidacy, perhaps making me seem pushy or self-centered? If so, I would rather just wait for them to run their course of action (Plan 1). As I've said, I have plenty of time, so I don't want impatience to hurt me.

If there is a good chance that my meddling will be detrimental, then I'd rather be hands-off here. However, if it's more likely that informing the other interviewers of my offer will give me a boost, then I'd want to do so.

Thanks for any clarity you can provide!

Edit: For a bit more information and context, the position I've been offered is a non-academic research position that my advisor has described as "prestigious." The other positions for which I've interviewed (and which I prefer) are mostly academic teaching-centered positions (visiting assistant professors, tenure-track at smaller four year institutions).

  • 1
    What kind of position? The etiquette is different at different levels of the academic food chain, so it would be good if you could edit your post to add some context to this job search. – ff524 Jan 28 '15 at 7:10
  • @ff524: I've added some more information. I hope it is helpful and that it addresses your question. Thanks! – Jared Jan 28 '15 at 7:22
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The argument for plan 2 is that if you have an offer from employer A with a particular deadline but you would prefer to take a position with employer B, then if you don't say something, employer B could take too long to decide what to do and you'd be forced to take offer A before employer B gets around to making you an offer.

I've been on the employer side of this (as both employer A and employer B.) Keep in mind that once a search committee has completed interviews it has to meet to decide on who should be offered the position and then this has to be reviewed by higher level administrators (deans or vice presidents) and that the process can take time (days or weeks.) It may be possible to expedite this process if there's a particular deadline, or it may not.

I think that if you've decided that you'll take offer A by a particular deadline if you have no other offers (and that you wouldn't break your contract with employer A after accepting the offer), then you should tell the other potential employers about the offer and the deadline (I wouldn't mention employer A's name or the specific amount of the offer.) It's not likely to hurt your chances with these other employers, but it could help motivate them to get an offer out to you in a timely fashion.

I have received this kind of information from job candidates in the past. Unfortunately, I've always had to say that (because we had other candidates scheduled for on campus interviews) that we couldn't make an offer before the deadline.

  • Since I'm not really facing a deadline, my situation is a bit different from the one you describe. The offer I've received is for a non-academic research position, and they've communicated to me that if I need to I can wait a few months before giving them a final answer. So if I were to communicate with other employers, it wouldn't be for the sake of trying to get information before a deadline, but for the sake of possibly making me appear like a more valuable candidate to them. – Jared Jan 28 '15 at 16:54
  • In that case, I wouldn't bother saying anything about the other offer until your deadline is approaching. – Brian Borchers Jan 28 '15 at 18:06
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First of all, congratulations!

I think you should take Plan 1 at least for now, that is to do nothing and simply wait to hear back from the other positions for which you've already interviewed.

The reasons are,

  1. You prefer some of the other positions
  2. You really don't know Plan 2 (to be in touch with the other positions to let them know you have an offer) will be helpful or harmful for you to get the other positions
  3. You still have plenty of time to think about it.

During this waiting period, you may want to find more information about the organization who offered you the research position. Is the offer truly good? Would you be happy when you work there? (It seems to me you like teaching better). In the mean time, if any of the teaching position offers arrives, you can make a smart decision then.

2

Would Plan 2 make me a more desirable candidate with the other positions, as they might see my offer as further validation of my credentials?

This is a bit of a crap shot, I am afraid. How this may be perceived also depends on whether the other institutions perceive your offer as less, about equal, or more attractive than their own position.

Case 1 - less attractive:

They will probably not care too much about your other offer. They assume that you will likely take theirs if you get an offer, and the fact that you have an offer for a position that they assume is easier to get won't fundamentally change their assessment of you. If the other offer is perceived as much worse they may question why you have even applied for this, and wonder whether you think yourself that you are very unlikely to get their position.

Case 2 - about the same:

In this case, I think this may make you seem like a better candidate. At least it will show that other people also think that you are good enough for the job you are applying to. It may be a minor factor, though.

Case 3 - more attractive:

They will probably assume that you will either take the more attractive alternative option anyway (and hence will be much less likely to offer you a job), or that you will negotiate very hard. Both are not exactly plusses for your application.

  • Thanks for your response! A few follow-up questions: I wasn't planning on specifying anything about the offer to the other employers, but perhaps you recommend otherwise? Would it be strange for me to just say I have an offer with no details about what/where/deadlines? Also, concerning Case 3, if I communicate to the other interviewers that I would very much prefer their position to the offer I already have, will that convince them that I'm serious about taking their position, and not looking to negotiate if they offer me something? – Jared Jan 28 '15 at 16:45

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