Dear J.T. & Dale: I have just been given an offer at one company, but I'm still interviewing at another company I like better. Should I tell the first company that I'm still interviewing and hold off on accepting their offer, or should I accept and lose out on the other opportunity? — Kendrick
DALE: First, congratulations on being in demand. Next, let me confide that what I'm about to say is difficult for me, a guy who's still a Midwestern Boy Scout at heart. That said, thanks to J.T. and to a lot of horror stories about employers who've yanked job offers after they've been accepted, I have to tell you that it's no longer a world where accepting a job offer is a promise you must not break. My advice: Accept the job offer but see if you can't put off starting for a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, pursue the second opportunity and then do what's best for your career.
J.T.: There's actually a third option here. I would first tell the company that you appreciate their offer but you need 24 hours to review it thoroughly and make sure that you don't have any questions before officially accepting. Then, go to the other company and let them know you've been given an official offer but they are your first choice and you were wondering when they might have their decision. This is a polite way of giving them notice that you may be accepting a different job and, doing so, it will help them tell you whether or not you are truly in the running. If you are, and they give you a date, then you will have to either decide to pass on the first job and take your chances; or, you can do what Dale suggests and accept the first job while continuing the process with the better job. If you get the better job and have to resign, that first company will be upset with you, but this is your life and your career and you want to play out all your options.
Dear J.T. & Dale: I'm looking to change jobs but not careers. What is the best way to ask for more money when interviewing at a new company for the same type of job? — Gisele
J.T.: Recruiters tell me all the time that if you're just expecting more money for the same type of work, companies won't give it to you. However, if you can justify why you're worth more, they'll consider it. Therefore, it is really important that you are able to articulate how your skills and abilities have grown to where you create more value and therefore are worth more. Sit down and think about all of the skills and accomplishments that you have acquired since you started your current job. Specifically, outline the ways in which you save or make the company money. Then memorize this list. When you get to the interview and they ask you about your salary requirements, start by describing all that you've learned and how you have grown and created more value for your current employer. Then, explain that, as a result, you are looking for a new job with more money to reflect your increased value. You can then ask if it's possible to pay you a particular rate (which you should have researched before you go on the interview). Close by saying you would really love to bring your additional skill sets and abilities to them if they are able to pay you that rate.
DALE: All good advice, unless you are thinking, "Whoa! I can't articulate how my skills and abilities have grown." That's when you have to go deeper and narrow your wish list of companies where you'd like to work. Instead of just thinking about your salary, think about future earnings potential. Where can you go where you will learn more or have more opportunities for promotion? Plus, where can you improve your quality of life, work environment and benefits? A bump in pay is nice, but a bump in your future is even better.
Jeanine "J.T." Tanner O'Donnell is a career coach and the founder of the leading career site www.workitdaily.com. Dale Dauten is founder of The Innovators' Lab and author of a novel about H.R., "The Weary Optimist." Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.