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Leveraging job opportunities


Adam Getz Severn, MD

How does one tactfully leverage multiple opportunities? As I prepare for transition, I will likely have a DoD SkillBridge fellowship offered to me, a job offer from another company, and likely other job offers, as well. With multiple offers, how does one tactfully leverage offers to improve other offers?

16 November 2020 8 replies Career Advancement



Adam Getz Severn, MD

Thank you, everyone, for your feedback. My original post was a bit vague, and I apologize; I was not speaking so much about salary or benefits, but more along the lines of the position itself. For example, I'm socializing with several companies right now. Company A is building its DoD SkillBridge fellowship program and wants to bring me on as a project manager. Company B isn't interested in the fellowship, but has indicated they would like to hire me directly. Both are excellent companies, but the job offer is stronger than a fellowship, and the initial conversation was just that--a conversation--not an offer. I would very much like to get the job offer from company B, but I do need an offer, and that's where I'm wondering if "leveraging" the fellowship from Company A will yield an offer from Company B.

Obviously money is important, but it's not my top priority. The culture and work are most important to me. The last thing I would want to do is offend a person or company by haggling salary. I apologize if I was not clear about that up front.


Andrew Foster

Hi Adam,

I've been in this position a few times, and I would advise caution. In my experience, offers come in waves. If you get 5 offers in one week, don't expect another 5 the next. It might be months before you get another offer. Your experience may vary, but the wave-like nature of offers is a common theme among my peers.

Conduct an honest comparison of the offers. Take into consideration all the benefits, career trajectory, location, business culture, etc.. You will probably find offers with very different salaries aren't so different once all the variables are accounted for. For example: Job A has a lower salary, is outside of a city, and offers paid training. Job B has a much higher salary, is in the heart of downtown, and offers no paid training. Once you have accounted for a higher rent, downtown parking, and lost training opportunities, Job A might be less attractive than Job B.

Know what your skill set is worth in a target market. If the offer exceeds the market price for your skill set, your odds of successfully negotiating a higher salary are low. I would recommend using a site like as a starting point for that research. Once you find the job description that most closely matches what you do, look for the section titled, "Wages & Employment Trends".

Setting salary aside for a moment, what could the company offer you that would improve the offer without adjusting salary. Things like paid training & certifications (don't forget renewals), more paid time off, parking passes, flexible working hours, paid emergency child care, and other perks are on the table. If you can find out what perks are offered senior employees, you will know what is within the realm of possibility for a position. Often these perks/benefits are easier to obtain than an adjustment in base salary.

Optional - If you have a recruiter, make them earn their commission. Recruiters should be able to help you navigate these waters, and while most won't reveal the true range for the salary, they should help you stay within the bounds of reason. They can help you understand the going rate for your skill set and what types of benefits are negotiable.

If you have done all of the aforementioned, and still want to negotiate, go for it. Be honest and keep your expectations reasonable. If the company was offering 20% under market, they are unlikely to accept 20% over market. It's unlikely you will be completely rejected as a candidate if your counter offer is reasonable, but be prepared for that. I would suggest starting with a salary based counter offer first, if the offer is under market, and then moving into benefits if the salary adjustment is rejected. If the offer is within market range, I'd focus entirely on benefits. The ideal strategy really depends on you and your goals. Once they have adjusted an offer to your benefit, don't ask for more. Be prepared to walk away from an offer that doesn't meet your expectations, but don't walk away from every offer.

Be skeptical of any company offering significantly over market prices for a position. I've yet to have good experiences with companies that significantly overpay. There is always a hidden cost, and you will end up paying for it.

Finally: negotiating is a skill and it takes lots and lots of practice. Do some reading on negotiation theory and start practicing those skills in every conversation. Every conversation is a negotiation in disguise. I'd recommend "Never Split the Difference" by Chris Voss as a good introduction to the topic.

Good Luck!


Lindsey Colvin Apex, NC

All the respect in the world to my fellow IBMers.... But I respectfully disagree that showing interest in another company dilutes the facade of only wanting to work for that one company.

Personally, I feel the way you show your passion for working for that company is by having options but CHOOSING the one your passionate about. If a company ditches someone because they were shopping around, I'd wonder how hard they'd fight to retain good talent.

With that being said, I wouldn't be name dropping companies.


Brian Armstrong Ridgefield, CT

Usually prior to an interview, the recruiter will ask you what your salary or compensation requirements are. If you are asked this question, start by asking the recruiter the basics for the position - amount of vacation, if there is a bonus available, etc. Once you know the baseline compensation for the job, you'll have a better idea what to ask for. At this point you can take the best offer you've received and use that as your salary requirement to see if the company can match. You may also want to say that you have "some flexibility", as you don't want them to withhold an offer because the job does not match your requirements. Hope that helps, and thank you for your service.


Lindsey Colvin Apex, NC

These are good problems to have...amiright?!?!

I'll agree with what Mr. McDuffie said... pinning companies against each other never works out to benefit you. However, there is (like you suggested) tactful ways to use the benefit to your advantage.

1. Negotiate salary. If Offer A is 5% less than Offer B, but you'd prefer to work with at Offer A, you may want to gently mention it as part of your negotiating tactic. Honesty sometimes goes a long way here, "I want to work at your company, but I have a similar offer that's only $XX more. I don't want to feel like I'm cutting my family's salary short just because I personally want to work there. If you could match that, I will say Yes today, otherwise, I need to discuss with my family what's best for us." If Offer A is 50% less than Offer B...that's something really different.
2. Compare the benefits. You won't be able to negotiate these as much, but ask a lot of questions about benefits. "What's the 401k plan? Do you match? How much? How frequently do you match?" "What's the ESPP plan? What's the discount? Is there a lookback?" "What do you cover for parental leave?" "What's your vacation and holiday plan?" These are often overlooked about a lesser salary could have far more in other benefits that matter to you.
3. Understand the work environments. If you have multiple offers and you understand the compensation and benefits... start asking about the things that don't really have dollars to them. Ask about what type of computer you'll have, what setup will you have, how much say do you have in how and where you work, how are hours tracked, can you work from home (and what's the policy on this). You may be able to negotiate these things to make work far more compatible with your life. THIS CAN BE INVALUABLE!


Chip Brown Durham, NC

HI Adam, In addition to Westley's comments. Congrats on anticipation of multiple job offers! Not an easy task. Past the fellowship, (which is a great opportunity), with the other potential companies and salaries and perks etc,have you investigated where they are competitively, what's their market share, might they be prone to an acquisitions, resource actions. Some things to consider.


Thom Roose Ft Mitchell, KY

Westley makes a couple good points. If you are looking to pit one offer against another, I would avoid using the "my other offer is X." Most companies I've worked for in the past, to include IBM, will likely disregard that and maybe even disregard you. An employer wants to know your passion about working for THEM, and showing interest in someone else dilutes that. Instead, simply ask for a better offer. If Company A is offering 3 weeks of vacation and Co B is only offering two, then as B if they would be willing to offer 3. It doesn't hurt to ask. Companies will rarely play hardball in employee negotiations- it doesn't bode well for the health of long term employee relations. So if they can give it to you, they likely will. But just be aware- there are often hard stops in what a company can give you due to corporate policy. For example, a smaller entrepreneurial firm might be able to give you more vacation, whereas a larger Fortune 500 has a strict vacation policy; they're not telling you "no" because they're being hard asses, rather its just that they can't.


Westley McDuffie Loganville, GA

I would never pit one company against another in a direct competing landscape. If we are in the process of interviewing you and it is brought up that another company is offering more - or better X. I can assure you that you will have the opportunity to investigate them long term.
On the other side, you do not get what you do not ask for.
Be courteous in what you are asking for. Just ask. Each company will have already completed its homework on what they will be offering, ( and what is the max)
Now for a little bit of what is important.
Ask yourself what is important, money, benefits on top of money, WFH, independent, or in the office as part of a team, - what is the company culture like, how well do veterans succeed where-ever you land. Your culture vs their culture will make or break your success at a company.
In the end, you have to pick what is right for you, ask for what you want or for what you were looking for, evaluate cultures and total compensation packages.

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