Main image of article Handling an ‘Exploding’ Job Offer the Right Way

‘Exploding’ job offers (i.e., those that expire in a set amount of time) are popular in tech. A recruiter or hiring manager sends you a job offer and tells you there’s a deadline to accept (typically 24 hours). It’s an anxious situation, but we have some tips on how to handle it without driving yourself nuts.

One major concept to keep in mind: 24 hours (or however much time you were given) is actually a long time. Even if the company wants a response by the end of the day, that's enough to make a solid decision. Simply acknowledge that you’ve received the offer, and that you’ll need some time to discuss with family before giving the company your response.

Ignore (Some) Traditional Advice

A lot of advice on the ‘ol internet will suggest you push back on the exploding job offer, and tell the company you’ll respond at your convenience. That’s a bad idea.

Tech unemployment is low, and tends to trend lower than the national unemployment average. Companies love to complain about a shortage of qualified tech professionals, but they’re still hiring quickly. Acting like the job is yours to turn down will only encourage a company to move on. Remember, a job offer can also be rescinded!

The second bit of bad advice you may discover is this: push back on the first offer, no matter what. Please don’t do this. Acknowledge the offer, tell them you understand their deadline, and move on to your next step…

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Do Your Homework

Glassdoor tattles a bit on companies, and its user-reported data gives you a glimpse into what people at a company say they make. If your salary offer is out of line with Glassdoor's reporting on the job title, make note of this.

Blind is another great source for tech professionals. The app has a feature where users can ask if a job offer is appropriate, which helps when you’re considering satellite benefits such as stock options.

If you’re entertaining an offer at a huge tech firm, try Levels. It compares roles and income levels across companies, with more being added to its roster all the time. Some huge firms have weird job titles, so it can be hard to know if what you’re being offered is good or not. Levels helps.

(Best of all, these resources only take minutes of your time! You’re not eating up the clock on your exploding job offer.)

Build a Consensus

Ask your spouse or partner what they think about the job. Encourage them to ask questions and criticize you, the company, and the whole hiring process. Having someone who cares about you, but not necessarily the job or company you’re entertaining, is always a good option.

You can do the same with family and/or friends. Invite those close to you into the decision-making process. If you’ve done your homework, you can answer questions without revealing things such as what you may make in this new job. You can respond with lines such as, “It’s a fair offer” instead of giving details on how much money is on the table.

It’s also a good idea to ping those in your circle of friends within tech. While it’s probably not a good idea to bounce from cubicle to cubicle at your current job asking if you should take this new gig, messaging a few other tech professionals you respect can help provide insight. This crowd may also know things about your potential new employer you don’t, which is especially helpful.

Just be sure to let everyone know you need their take soon. You’re on the clock!

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Spend Some Time Alone

You’ve done your homework, and you know what those closest to you think about the offer. With the outside influences heard, it’s time to listen to yourself.

Find some time to be alone so you can think deeply about the job, as well as your impressions of the company (or those you’ve spoken to at the company). If possible, find a place where you can think out loud without looking like someone who needs a mental health intervention. Go for a walk or a drive – or just sit alone in your home and consider things.

Ask yourself the hard questions. Did you feel respected in the interviews? Was your potential new manager a jerk? Is the commute acceptable? Is the offer really commensurate with your experience? Do you think you’ll be a good cultural fit?

Friends and family (and data) are great influencers, but you’re the one who has to do the job. Don’t take this time to talk yourself into anything, though; this is the time for you to honestly answer those questions you have within.

How to Reject the Offer

Let’s say the salary is a full $20k below what you would make at a similarly-sized firm in the area for the same job. The benefits are standard, and the bonus structure is limited. In a nutshell, you can do better... and the company probably can’t.

When you respond, it’s good form to let them know you’ve done your homework, and find their offer weak compared to other companies in the area. Be nice; now is not the time to point out they’re underpaying staff so the CEO can drive a Maserati.

It’s possible they haven’t done their diligence on what a “good” salary is for the position, especially if they have a lot of tenured tech professionals at the company. But if the offer is really out of line, it’s even more possible they won’t boost it to a level you’ll find acceptable, so it’s best to walk away.

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How to Counter-Offer

Maybe the offer is $10k lower than your homework suggests is appropriate. The benefits are good, and you can work from home half the time. They offer stock, and the bonuses should keep your annual travel-budget coffers full.

Be open about what you’re thinking. Respond to the recruiter or hiring manager and let them know you would love to accept the job, but you think the salary offered is slightly low. Let them know what you discovered, and be open about what you’d like to make. Chances are good they’ll “talk it over internally” and counter with something in the middle.

And if they flat-out refuse your salary counteroffer, consider requesting added perks; maybe the ability to work from home more than half the time, or added PTO days. Decide what will make you happy before the negotiations begin.

Best Case Scenario: The Job Offer Is Great

Remember: not all companies are trying to low-ball you. It’s entirely possible the offer will be fair, or even great. Be objective about it. And if the offer is awesome, accept graciously and let them know you’re eager to start.

You don’t always have to haggle or push back. The job offer you accept has to work for you, not some hive-mind idea of what’s acceptable. You’re the one who has to do the work, and live your life – and you know what’s best for you and your situation.