A Bird in The Hand


Hi Danny,

I have a candidate who is active in looking for a new position. He has a job offer on the table with a deadline for his answer. My client expedited its process and met with my candidate the day I presented him. The client is interested but needs to complete a second interview. The candidate would need to delay his response to the other offer for two days. Any suggestions on how the candidate should ask for an extension without losing the "bird in the hand" offer?


Danny's response:

It’s a rare occasion that offers come in a neat and organized fashion. Pushing and pulling is a very large part of a recruiter’s job. When an offer is “in hand”, you always run the risk of losing that offer if you don’t accept it within the predetermined amount of time. When the client is ours, and we are extending an offer, we set the expectations that the acceptance is expected within 24 hours. We let the candidate know this before the offer is extended – this way, if there is any objection, we know about it in advance. When the offer is the other company, we really have no real way to measure the risk of loss with stalling the answer.


Two things concern me about your question. First is the suggestion that our counsel can mitigate the risk of the losing the other offer. We don’t even like to take that risk with our own clients, let alone any other company. I would not suggest to any candidate that if they position their strategy “this way”, they will not put the other in jeopardy – we just can’t make that sort of assurance.


Second, your question says you need to delay the offer for two days. Unless you are 100% certain that you will hold an offer from your client in two days, I would avoid sending the candidate back to the “bird in hand” offer to get a two day extension. The most efficient clients I have would struggle to complete a second interview and tell me with complete certainty that they can have the offer ready in two days.


More likely, if your candidate wants to see your process through, they will need to postpone an answer for longer than two days. The only counsel I would give to this candidate is: “My client is very serious about you. They are willing to expedite their standard interview process as much as possible to try to accommodate your timeline. If you want to see this through, you will need to inform the other company that you are completing another interview process because you wish to compare both opportunities. I would encourage them to say that it is “in the best interest of me and my family that I complete this other interview process so that you can make an informed decision." If the other company is unwilling to extend some additional time for consideration – your candidate will be faced with a difficult situation. Keep in mind, whenever a candidate is working through another recruiter, he might need to go directly to the hiring authority given the situation. This is not to say you can't trust the recruiter, but that all recruiters are not created equal and you can't be sure if what you're expressing is being delivered with the intended urgency or tone...


Rather than focusing on getting an extension, you might have more luck digging in a different direction. All jobs are not created equal, if they were, your candidate would take the first job, there would be no need to buy time. You should be direct and ask your candidate the tough question.... Why not just take the other job? (Believe me, you are not suggesting something they've not been weighing themselves). What is missing? By talking them through what is missing, you can weigh the opportunity... not against yours, but against what they are looking for. You may find the other opportunity is less viable than you thought, or even better, less viable than they thought.


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We have hundreds of great questions and answer blogs from Danny and the recruiters he has trained. Look for emails highlighting these questions.