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Minding Job Search Etiquette P's and Q's

The Milton Job Doctor answers Milton residents' questions about proper job search etiquette: how to schedule a follow-up interview; how to say no to a job offer; and how to juggle two part-time jobs.

Are you a job seeker having trouble figuring out proper interviewing etiquette?  You’re not alone. Here are some questions that your fellow Milton job-seekers have asked and my suggestions to help set them on the right path in the job search. 

Please share your questions and experiences concerning anything career-related with me at miltonjobdoctor@gmail.com and/or stop in during my walk-in hours at the on Wednesday mornings throughout the summer.

For a job that I really want, I had an initial phone screen, an in-person interview with several staff, and was just called for a third and final interview with an off-site manager. I was offered two possible days/times.  I told the coordinator that neither day was good, but that I could do the latter date if necessary. She scheduled the appointment for that date. I have some personal and family matters that I need to attend to, and now I’m wondering if I can call her back and try to reschedule the appointment.

Whenever possible, it’s a good idea for the job-seeker to be accommodating and flexible when it comes to scheduling – and keeping - interviews. Sometimes a genuine conflict or emergency situation arises that forces a candidate to have to reschedule. If you can, try to figure out how to postpone dealing with your personal and family issues until after your interview; or perhaps you can delegate some of the work to another family member. Especially as this is a job that you really want, you cannot afford to do anything that would jeopardize a successful outcome. Your goal is to get the job offer, so that should be your priority right now.

Update: The candidate kept the appointment as originally scheduled, and was offered the position.

I have two job offers. My question is not which job to take. I know which job I am going to take – Job A. Although the salary is slightly lower, the benefits are much more generous, and the job is in a new industry, the nonprofit sector, which appeals to me. My question is more one of timing and strategy: Do I decline the offer of Job B before I accept Job A? Or vice versa? How do I turn down Job B – via e-mail or on the phone? What do I say? What if they ask me where I’m going and why? What if they try to match my other offer?

First, let me congratulate you on your job offers! Getting one, no less two, offers in this economy is quite an accomplishment. Second, it sounds as though you have given careful consideration to the two offers and have chosen the one that offers better opportunities and perks for you, in both the short- and long-term.

Now, to answer your question: You definitely need to finalize your job offer and acceptance of Job A before contacting anyone at Job B. Call your prospective employer to happily accept your job offer verbally, or to negotiate further, and then ask for the offer in writing (it can be e-mail). You always want to have a permanent record of an offer.  

Once you have finalized Job A, you are free to turn down Job B. It is entirely up to you whether you are more comfortable communicating your decision via e-mail or telephone. If you developed a rapport with the people at Job B, and don’t want to burn any bridges for the future, you may wish to call them instead. On the other hand, e-mail has the advantage of allowing you to avoid any follow-up questions from the employer.   

I just got a job offer for a part-time accounting position. The employer suggested that we both try things out for awhile, to see if it’s a good fit. I have another part-time accounting job. At present, I can easily juggle the hours at both jobs, but during tax season, the new firm wants me to increase my hours, which would mean decreasing my hours at my other job. My boss there knows that I have been looking for a second job. Should I discuss my anticipated change in hours with him before starting the new job?

You don’t need to bring your first boss into the discussion about your new job right now. Wait and see how the new job pans out. If you like the second job and the employer likes you, you will have ample time before tax season begins to try to negotiate your hours at both places.  Hopefully, you will be able to keep both employers happy while still maintaining your own sanity.

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