Entertaining two offers

One of my students came to me with an interesting scenario. He received a verbal offer from Company A (think FAANG, the big leagues) and was waiting for the written offer. While waiting, a recruiter from Company B (another FAANG) asked him if he was interested in applying. He said yes, but that he was waiting for an offer. The recruiter asked him to delay the offer 2 weeks, as that would be enough time for the recruiter to get him a written offer.

The real question: should he?

From his perspective, he was on the verge of getting a written offer to work at a wonderful company and there was no benefit in delaying it. It seemed it was all downside: what if he asked for (up to) 2 weeks to give them an answer and they withdrew the offer? Even if the recruiter from Company B was right and they could get my student a written offer in two weeks, would he even entertain working for Company B?

Companies only want one thing from you and it’s disgusting

Once you’re past the hurdles of understanding how to code, after you’ve practiced day in and day out, you’re going to ace the interview. I guarantee that you’ll eventually get a job offer from a company to actually code for money. Reading that email is just an indescribable feeling.

And accepting the offer will feel amazing. It’s not about the money (though it is about the money). It’s about the thrill of being accepted into the community. It means someone out there thinks that you’re good enough that they pay you actual money to do what you love.

There’s no feeling that compares.

I try to understand my students and I still remember applying for companies, but that’s how they get you. The only thing companies want is for you to think you need them more than they need you.

From my perspective, it was a no-brainer: yes, you delay the offer two weeks. He wasn’t super happy that I thought it was a no-brainer. How could I feel that way?

I explained that programmers are hard to come by – and good programmers? They’re worth their weight in gold. The value any company – let alone a FAANG-level company – gets from a developer is enormous. Think of the best case scenario: Whatsapp. In 2015, Whatsapp was maintained by 50 engineers. 50 engineers were delivering value to 900 million people. There are obviously some caveats but, in general, companies pay insane prices when it comes to the best of the best.

If Company A has already invested weeks (potentially months) and they’ve deemed my student good enough to receive an offer, there is very little risk in him asking “Give me 2 weeks to think about this”. There may be some pushback from Company A saying that 2 weeks is a long time, but they are not going to rescind the offer immediately. Worst case scenario is they put their foot down and force him to accept an offer within a few days and he says yes. Boom, got a job!

If they say “sure, take the two weeks”, best case scenario is he gets competing offers and he can do at least one round of negotiation between both companies.

Companies don’t have feelings

In the end, he started the process with Company B and ended up getting a competing offer. I advised him to do one round of negotiation, but he didn’t feel confident enough in his ability to negotiate, so I calmed him down and told him to think about it and do whatever he felt was right. If he feels he can do a round of counter negotiation, great! If not, he has two amazing offers on the table.

In the end, he ended up accepting the original offer without countering and all was well.

The lesson here is that companies don’t have feelings and you do. When it comes to processes like job offers, compensation, and other touchy subjects, it’s best to remember that the company only cares about money. They have a fiduciary duty to their shareholders, so if it makes sense financially, they’ll hire you. If it makes sense financially, they’ll drop you. Even if they give you a decent severance package and/or bonus, they’ll drop you in a heartbeat.

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