As you conduct your job search, there’s a chance that you’ll get an exploding job offer - one that has a short expiration date. Employers who want to hire quickly and decide between two or three final candidates often give their first choice an offer that is taken off the table if decision-making takes too long. The longer they wait to hire, the more productivity they lose. Further, the more time they give you to decide, the more likely you are to land a competing offer that you might pick over theirs or use to negotiate.

Handling an exploding job offer introduces a lot of uncertainty in the hiring process, especially if you’d rather work at another company. But you have to make a decision fast, so here’s how to do it without making any big mistakes:

Know what you want beforehand

When you’re interviewing with companies, it’s important to figure out at the very start of the process whether or not you’d be happy at the role and workplace they offer. You don’t need to make a rigid decision -- it can change in response to your experience in the hiring process. But it is important to update that decision at each step of the process so that you know based on all the information you have whether you want to continue to any next stage.

As you near the end of the interview process with a company, write down all the pros and cons you learned about them. Rank the list based on how you weigh each pro and con and give the company a final grade at each stage. You can then use those grades to not just painlessly decide on an exploding offer, but also to easily compare multiple offers or the potential quality of other jobs you’re interviewing for.

Introducing this level of clarity in your own job search will make it so that an exploding offer never catches you off guard. You’ll always be ready and able to properly analyze the offer and make a smart decision. And best of all, it’s easy to keep all that information stored and available in your JobHero dashboard.

Negotiate against it

Sometimes a company's exploding offer is an unreasonable ask that doesn't give you the opportunity to make a smart and unrushed decision. It is possible to push back against the offer's expiration date and land yourself a bit of extra time. It's important that you do this immediately rather than waiting for the last day, as that puts everyone in a tight spot.

Talk to the hiring manager about the expiration date of the offer and your decision making process. Choosing to whether join a company is a big step in your career that can't be made on the spot. In your conversation, make it clear that you want to make the right decision both for your sake and the company's. After all, you hating a job you were rushed to take results in a bad outcome both for your career and the company's bottom line. That type of hiring mistake leaves them with thousands in hiring and productivity costs.

If the company isn't willing to budge on the expiration date of the offer, it's important to have a valid alternative on hand if you decide to let it expire. If your entire job search has led you to this point with no other interviews and no interest from other companies, you may not have much recourse. But if you are in the process with others and are confident about your job search, you can walk away from the table without too much risk -- tell them you’ll need more time or you’ll have to reject the offer.

Extending your job search a short while to find the right role is almost always better than joining the wrong company, but if you’re not in the right position to do so, taking on the role for the short term can relieve your financial pressure while you find a better gig.

Make a preliminary decision

The moment you receive an exploding job offer, start the decision-making process. Talk to your family, friends, and mentors and make a preliminary decision as soon as possible. The faster you do so, the clearer and easier the rest of the process will be to navigate. That preliminary decision will be based off your current attitude and thoughts about the offer, something that can change as you take more time to negotiate and consider other offers.

Don’t tell the company your preliminary decision. You have a deadline to go by and you don’t have to answer them on day one. Most importantly, keep an open dialogue with your point of contact about things like salary, starting date, benefits, and onboarding. Wait a few days, analyze the offer, and continue your conversations and interview processes with other companies.

The time you’re given to make a decision presents opportunities to make a deliberate decision. Your preliminary decision will guide you toward how much attention you want to give to competing offers and interviews. Further, you’ll stop yourself from making a final decision to accept or reject a job without considering alternatives and negotiating.Take your time and analyze all possible pros and cons of the job and your alternatives before telling the company your decision. Not doing so can result in a lot of regret.

Become the exploding offer

When you get an exploding job offer, time begins to tick away not just for you to accept the job but also for other companies that might be interested in hiring you. If you’re in the interviewing process with other companies that you might be more interested in working for, you can use this offer as an incentive to speed up the process.

Immediately email your points of contact with those companies to inform them of the competing offer, give them your timeline, and let them know you’re still interested in working for them. Companies that consider you a potentially valuable hire will respond with urgency and schedule your interviews quickly. Companies that aren’t as motivated will let their time expire in the face of the pressure -- that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it may show they weren’t enthused enough to hasten their process for you.

When you become the exploding offer yourself, you increase your chances at landing multiple job offers that you can use as negotiation tools in the hiring process.

Get a good deal

Sometimes, companies use exploding offers as a way to force candidates into making a quick decision without negotiating offer terms and getting the best possible deal for themselves. It’s a tactic that enables them to hold all the cards in the negotiating process and effectively shut out the candidate from getting better pay, better benefits, and a clear view of what the final job entails.

Falling into this quick decision trap prevents you from getting a good deal from the job and can end up with you getting underpaid for the work you’re performing. Always look for spots to negotiate on and get the best job offer possible. Do your research on the salaries of past and current employees at the company and compare your offer to the market rate for your role. And immediately start the negotiation process with the company within the timeline. Waiting for the last few days before the offer expires puts you in a bad negotiating position.

Be especially wary of companies that use exploding offers as a way of saying there’s no opening for negotiation in the process. This signals that they undervalue and underpay the people they hire. It can also signal that a lot of people they’ve hired in the past were unhappy with their initial offers and looked to negotiate. If you feel in any way that you’re being taken advantage of, walking away might be your best option.

An exploding job offer doesn’t have to induce panic. It can be a simple and methodical process if you get prepared ahead of time, take all the time you need, and analyze all your options. You’ll do yourself a big disservice if you just take a job offer on the spot, so make sure you go through with your other interviews, negotiate the terms of your offer, and pick the right job for you.

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