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Juggling Job Offers with Grace

By Lisette Hilton

It's easy to cop an attitude in this job market. You're in demand. And it looks like nurses will be in demand for the long term. Your job search might lead to one, two, three or more job offers. Should you grab the job you think you want and blow off the others?

The saying "Don't bite the hand that feeds you," might apply. The fact is, you don't know if you'll someday need the person sitting across the desk from you, making you that offer. The employer or human resources person you turn down today could be the one you're begging for work for in the future.

Turning the job down is your right. How you handle it is in your control. Don't be smug about it. Don't burn bridges. Be honest. Be responsive to those who are waiting to hear from you.

Valerie Young, EdD, publisher and editor, Changing Course Newsletter, at, suggests that the potential employee be aware of what she wants and courteous of those making the offers. According to Young:

Know what you want, first

Before you apply for a new job, understand what your ideal professional life would be. "I think a lot of people start with the job and the work, and I think people need to back up and say, 'What do I want my life to look like?' 'What do I want my pace to be like?' 'What part of the country speaks to me?'" Young said. Take a job before answering these questions and you might find yourself in a job that's out of sync with what you want in your life.

Do unto others?

We all know what it's like to wait for that important phone call. Put yourself in the recruiters' shoes and don't leave anyone dangling for too long. "More than likely, they're [the people hiring] anxious to fill the position. Job recruiting, interviewing and the decision-making process are probably something that they're doing on top of their other responsibilities. It can be tricky if there's a feeling that you're hanging them up," Young says.

Don't hold potential employers hostage for other offers, Young said. Organizations are made of people, with egos and personalities. Think of it as being invited to three parties and you can only go to one. Accept and decline jobs with grace and appreciation.

Alert potential employers about when you'll make your decision. You can say, "I appreciate the offer. I have some others that I'm considering, and I'll get back to you Monday of next week." You can also put the ball in the employer's court, asking when the latest is that they'd like to know, according to Young.

Treat employers the way you would want to be treated. After all, you never know when your professional paths will cross. Also consider that the job that you decideto take might fall through, forcing you to go back to your second or even third choices.

Honesty, confidence: Two keys to preserving future relationships

Let the employers know in "an information sharing way" that you have other good job offers on the table-if that's in fact the case. Make a date, if possible, of when they'll get back to you with an offer.

"There's always an element of risk. There are so many internal factors when organizations hire people. So there are times when the nurse's first choice can't give the nurse a date. The ball would then be back in the nurse's court [to wait or decide on one of the other offers]," Young said.

Stay friendly with everyone

Remain respectful and look at everyone as a potential member of your network in the future. Send everyone you interviewed with thank you notes. Thank them for considering you and perhaps mention how tough it was to decide. Remember, the job search is also about people's egos. You're rejecting those others who made you offers. In your thank you note, try to build them back up, according to Young.

All the while, know you're in the driver's seat

Being nice doesn't mean selling yourself short. This job market should arm you with confidence. Ask for those perks that are important to you during the offer process. Young suggests that nurses and others frame their requirements to potential employers by saying, "Let me tell you something I'm thinking. This is something that's important to me. How might that fit in terms of this job and your needs?"

"Go for it," Young says. "Once you have the job, it's too late."

Copyright (c) 2008, MedZilla, Inc. Re-print permission granted by MedZilla, Inc.

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