How to Juggle Two Job Offers (And Not Burn Your Bridges), with Martin McGovern

Listen On:

The opposite of not getting a job offer is receiving multiple offers. How do you handle not knowing which offer to accept? And what if you make a decision you regret later? Find Your Dream Job guest Martin McGovern shares what to do if you find yourself in this position. Martin says your first step is to slow down. You don’t have to give an answer immediately. Next, only share what has to be shared. You don’t need to tell a potential employer everything. Martin also suggests not staying at your first position if another offer is the perfect one for you. 

About Our Guest:

Martin McGovern  is a career coach, a podcast host, and the founder of  Career Therapy

Resources in This Episode:

Are you ready to get Unstuck in your job search and career? Learn more about how Martin can help you when you visit

From our Sponsor: Find Your Dream Job is brought to you by TopResume TopResume has helped more than 400,000 professionals land more interviews and get hired faster. Get a free review of your resume today from one of TopResume’s expert writers.


Find Your Dream Job, Episode 394:

How to Juggle Two Job Offers (And Not Burn Your Bridges), with Martin McGovern

Airdate: April 12, 2023

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life.

I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.

Every Wednesday, I talk to a different expert about the tools you need to get the work you want.

Find Your Dream Job is brought to you by TopResume. TopResume has helped more than 400,000 professionals land more interviews and get hired faster.

Get a free review of your resume today.

Go to

It’s an unusual economy right now.

Some people may see a job offer withdrawn.

Others might receive offers from two or more employers.

Martin McGovern is here to talk about how to juggle two job offers and not burn your bridges.

He’s a career coach, a podcast host, and the founder of Career Therapy.

Martin’s company helps you focus your career goals, rise above your anxieties, and reach your full potential.

He joins us from Chicago, Illinois.

Well, let’s jump right into it, Martin. How common is it these days for job seekers to receive multiple offers?

Martin McGovern:

It’s actually quite common these days to receive multiple job offers. We see that a lot of people, when they are going through the job search process, it’s one of those feast and famine situations, in which, when it rains, it pours, and very often, people aren’t ready for it when it happens. And so knowing what to do when multiple offers come through is incredibly important.

Mac Prichard:

And you mentioned that many candidates don’t know what to do, especially the first time it happens. So, are people comfortable dealing with these multiple offers? Or does it make them anxious?   

Martin McGovern:

Oh, it definitely makes them anxious. I think discomfort in the job search process is probably the most common thing I come across. And it’s definitely the reason why Career Therapy is leaning much more into not only the tactics but also the emotional things that you have to deal with as you’re experiencing all of these different job search and workplace situations.

When the anxiety gets spiked, usually it’s around what do I do to make sure I don’t lose one of these offers. How do I make sure that I’m choosing the best offer? And how do I make sure that none of these offers get in the way of each other? And so, it’s really important to go in with a calm mind not to not do something that will lose you the offers, and keep things afloat until you have everything signed on the dotted line.

Mac Prichard:

Well, we’re gonna talk in a moment about how to handle those multiple offers. Before we get there, what are some of the mistakes you see candidates make when multiple offers are on the table?

Martin McGovern:

Some of the most common mistakes is this feeling or need to be overly communicative or overly transparent with companies about the fact that you have multiple job offers. Unfortunately, companies can get a little bit defensive, depending on how you communicate these things. And so it’s important to be very careful with how you communicate the fact that you have multiple offers, (if you communicate the fact that you have multiple offers) and make sure that you’re not making them feel like they’re the second choice.

I’ve seen many situations in which people will say, you know, thank you for this offer they’ve negotiated, and the company is all ready to sign and ready to get started, and then they’ll say, but I’m still waiting on this other company to get back to me; give me a few more days. And the first company gets very upset and rescinds the offer.

And then, I’ve also seen situations where people accept offers and feel like they have to stop the interview process completely with the other company. And that’s not true either. You can still finish out the other interviews to see if a better offer comes through because you have a lot more autonomy in this process than you think.

You can, you know, unfortunately, in our current world, loyalty is a fickle thing in a lot of these companies. So if companies are typically able to rescind offers that they’ve given out, which we’ve seen happen a ton in the tech world right now, well, then you should have the ability to treat companies how they treat potential employees and have a little bit of autonomy in accepting offers, rescinding offers, juggling offers. There’s a lot more room for you to make the best decision for yourself, and we can definitely get into the details of how exactly to navigate that. But knowing that you have personal autonomy in this and it’s not just at the mercy of the company is something really important to keep in mind.

Mac Prichard:

I do want to talk about those details, Martin, and I know you do, as well. Before we get there, what drives the job seeker’s inclination to be transparent? Why do people want to do that? Is that well-intentioned?

Martin McGovern:

I think it comes from insecurity. There’s this real big push in our current world to be authentic, and I think people misinterpret that as “be completely transparent.” And there’s also just nervousness.  I think there’s this idea that if I say everything up front, well, then they’ll know everything, and I don’t have to worry about anything. It can just get really, sort of, people can get really flustered in these situations.

And again, I think the job search process takes so long and can be such a difficult process for people that when the good things start happening, they get nervous. You go from all of this rejection to multiple offers. It can be a bit overwhelming. And so, you want to be like, oh, can I have more time? I’m talking to this other company, and that company says, well, we need an answer. And so, then you go back to the first company, and you’re like, well, I need an answer so I can tell the other company so that they can give me an answer.

And it seems like being transparent would make things easier. They know what’s happening. You know what’s happening. Everyone knows what’s happening. But unfortunately, the job search is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster on both sides, and I’ve seen situations in which companies can get pretty offended if you negotiate, win the negotiation, they give you the pay that you’re looking for, they give you the contract that you asked for, and then you say, I still need more time.

That can be a tough thing for companies to be really positive about because they’re looking to hire someone who’s excited to get started, and you don’t want to signal that, well, you’re my second choice, but I guess I’ll start with you. You always want to signal that excitement, and that’s why sometimes the transparency can work against you.

Mac Prichard:

Well, let’s talk about how to navigate these conversations, and I know you’ve got a set of principles that you share with your clients, and the first one is to treat companies how they treat you. Tell us more about this. What do you mean here, Martin?

Martin McGovern:

This goes right to the heart of that transparency and authenticity piece. Authenticity to yourself is important. You should be honest with yourself. You should be aware of yourself. But what you actually show to the world and what you communicate out loud should be just what’s necessary. What is necessary to move you to the next conversation, to the next round, to the next thing that you need to do?

And the same thing that these companies do. They’re not being one hundred percent transparent with you. If you go to a job description, is the job description one hundred percent accurate to the role that you’re gonna do? Likely not. The general rule of thumb is if you have sixty percent of what’s there, you should apply because companies are putting out a wishlist, not a perfect synopsis of what that role will be. And roles are constantly changing, and they might even adjust the role to your skills depending on what you can do.

But for some reason, when you’re the job seeker, you feel like if you don’t have one hundred percent of what’s in that job description, then you don’t deserve it, or you’re not qualified. And a lot of times, people will take that insecurity and bring it into the interview and say something like, oh well, I’m not the best at that, so I must not have that skill. Well, we think that’s being authentic and transparent, but it’s not really getting the point across of what the company is looking for.

We need to project our best self. We need to project our ability to help. We need to project our ability to learn on the job and solve things as we go. A company’s not hiring you to be perfect. They’re hiring you to figure it out for them. And so the company is putting out their best face, and a lot of times, the job seeker is coming in with their insecurities, and those two things don’t really align.

So, when I say treat companies how they treat you, I’m saying, the company is saying, we’re an amazing place, you’re gonna grow here, there’s all of this opportunity. And you want to meet them with that same energy and say. I’m really excited. I’m here to grow. I can do so many things for your company and help. And that’s the kind of conversation that you want to be having so that it’s not one-sided.

Mac Prichard:

What’s your best advice, Martin, for someone who might be struggling to put that best foot forward? How do you help your clients accomplish that?

Martin McGovern:

It really comes down to practice. A lot of the reasons why we sort of get to this point of over-sharing or being too transparent to a point where it’s detrimental is because we haven’t practiced ahead of time. You can practice these conversations, whether it’s an interview, a negotiation, or whatever it might be, especially when it comes to salary.

Talk to people about it. Talk to friends about it. Do your research about what the salary ranges are. Understand what the different aspects of a job offer are. Whether it’s salary, paid time off, education stipends, know the different things you can negotiate going in so that it doesn’t all come down to just that number. And know that you have flexibility and that it’s really a conversation at the end of the day.

A lot of times, we put too much of ourselves into this stuff, and we make it all about our self-worth. You’ll hear that phrase. Get paid what you deserve, and I always say, separate your self-worth from your salary. They have a budget. You have a skill. They’re paying you to use that skill to solve a problem. It really doesn’t have anything to do with you, at the end of the day or your self-worth. So, this is a budget conversation, not a self-worth conversation, and I think that helps alleviate some of the pressure.

Mac Prichard:

Terrific. I want to take a break right here, Martin. Stay with us. When we come back, Martin McGovern will continue to share his advice on how to juggle two job offers and not burn your bridges.

Want to make sure your resume is as good as it could be?

Talk to the experts at TopResume.

Go to

A professional writer at TopResume will review your resume for free.

Go to

You’ll get tips you can use to make your resume better right away.

Or you can hire TopResume to do it for you.

Go to

Now, let’s get back to the show.

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with Martin McGovern.

He’s a career coach, a podcast host, and the founder of Career Therapy.

Martin’s company helps you focus your career goals, rise above your anxieties, and reach your full potential.

He joins us from Chicago, Illinois.

Now, Martin, before the break, we were talking about how to juggle two job offers and not burn your bridges, and we’re beginning to walk through these principles that you share with your clients.

What was striking to me in the first segment is you kept coming back to this idea that this is a negotiation when you’re talking to two or more companies at the same time about offers. It’s not about your self-worth. Do you find, Martin, that people’s excitement not only leads to transparency about an offer but also maybe leads to them forgetting that, indeed, this is a business conversation? Do you see that happening a lot?

Martin McGovern:

Absolutely, our identity, our career identity, can become a really big piece of our life, especially when we spend so much time trying to find a job and we just want to get started. We want this process to be over. I hear so many times from people, should I even negotiate? I just want this to be over with. Obviously, the answer is always negotiate because the company is expecting it, and you don’t want to miss out on that extra bump that you could potentially get.

But really, at the end of the day, it is a business transaction, and that gets lost because so much of this is focused on, you know, what do you want to do for a living, find your passion, and all of these different things. And so, people can get really caught up at the end of this process. They’re so close to the finish line, and they just want it to be done, and they want to get started. But we can really sort of trip ourselves up if we don’t slow down, take a breath, and think critically about what we’re talking about here.

And again, it’s not about what you’re worth. It’s what this role is worth. And a good way to build some space between you and this conversation is, instead of advocating on your own behalf, pretend you’re advocating on a friend’s behalf, or pretend you’re just consulting with a company on what this role should be offered in order to be competitive in the marketplace.

And, again, that comes down to doing your research, going to PayScale and Indeed and all of these websites, in order to find out what the ranges are so that you’re asking for things that are reasonable and you’re talking to the company about their budget, not your worth, and really being clear.

So if you’re gonna ask for a higher number in your salary, I typically would say it as, “Is there room in the budget for this role to get up to this number?” rather than, “I’d like to make this much. Would you give it to me?” It’s taking the focus off of you as an individual and putting it on the job and the skills, and the value of the role.

Mac Prichard:

In the first segment, you said listeners should remember that when it rains, it pours. In other words, you can receive multiple offers, and you brought up a situation where it’s okay to accept one offer and still consider a second offer.

How do you do that in practical terms? How do you communicate with both organizations effectively without burning your bridges when one company has said, we want you, here’s an offer, and you’ve accepted, and then you get a second offer from another company? How do you do that, Martin?

Martin McGovern:

This comes down to compartmentalization. When I say, it rains, it pours, that typically means you’re in different parts of the interview process with multiple companies at the same time. And the problem with that is that they don’t usually line up perfectly.

So you might have one company that you’re on the third interview with and the other company that you’re on the first or second interview with. The first company gives you a verbal offer while you’re still waiting for the next round interview with the other company. And this creates a lot of tension because very often, when I’m talking to people, the offer that they’re about to get, maybe by the end of the day or the end of the week, is not their top choice. So they don’t want to say yes or no to that until they’ve gotten the next offer.

But what ends up happening there is if you wait too long to respond to the first offer you get, they might pull it because you’ve waited too long. They give you an offer, you wait a week, two weeks, with no communication, they’re gonna assume you don’t want it or you ghosted them. And then when the other one comes through or doesn’t come through, then that’s either all you have or you have nothing left on the table.

I’ve seen, too often, someone say no to a real offer that exists, that’s in writing because they think the next offers gonna be better, and then the next offer doesn’t come through, and they’re left with nothing. So, I would say, deal with reality, not imagination. The first offer, the one that’s in writing, that is reality. If that’s all you have in hand and you haven’t gotten the other offer yet, don’t compare the two. Just compare reality to reality. And then if two, three, four weeks later, you end up getting the next offer, then you can compare the reality of what you’ve accepted to the reality of the new job offer.

And I’ve seen so many situations where someone has started a job, maybe they’re in training or two or three weeks in, and they get that next offer come through, and the first job was a contract that paid a low hourly rate, but the second one is a full-time role that pays 30-40K more. Well, of course, it’s understandable that you’re gonna want the second offer.

So in those cases, what I would say is, go to the first company and don’t burn the bridge. Don’t just disappear. Don’t just quit on the spot. Go in there, and again, and try to be the most helpful person that this company has ever met in the job search process.

I actually helped a client once that this exact thing happened to them. They got a part-time contract, they accepted it, they started working. Then the full-time offer came three weeks later. They went back to the first company and said, hey, unfortunately, some things have changed in my professional work and in my life, and I’m no longer able to continue with this contract. However, I do know a number of people that I could introduce you to who could take over the role, and I’d be happy to set up the transition so that it’s really smooth. If you would like those introductions, I’m happy to make them.

And the company was very happy with it. The person was very happy with it. Someone new got hired, and everyone was okay. So, if we can just calm ourselves down and try to be helpful, it can really, really make sure we don’t burn those bridges.

Mac Prichard:

That has to be challenging for a candidate who not only accepts an offer but then starts at a job, whether it’s a contract position, and especially if it’s a full-time permanent position, to continue having conversations with another employer. How do you recommend they manage that process and keep their energy up, and feel authentic and professional?

Martin McGovern:

It’s tough. It can be a really tough process, especially if you are starting that new role and it’s quite busy. How do you make sure that you can do all of these different things? One thing I’ve seen people do is if they know there’s other offers that might be coming, they’ll push that start date out. So they’ll sign the contract but push the start date maybe two, three, four weeks out so that they can just finish all of the rest of the things that they have in process.

The other thing is to remember that companies are talking to multiple people and comparing you to these other people. So, again, treat companies how they treat you. You should always be talking to other companies, just the way that they’re always talking to other people.

And I’ve seen people who, I’ve talked to people who are like, well, I can’t leave this company until I’ve been there a year, or two years, or three years. And maybe it’s a bad environment for them, or it’s not the right role, or they start the job, and the role completely changes two weeks in. I try to tell people, look at the long-term of your career. Thirty years from now, this two months that you spent at this company is gonna be something you don’t even remember having happened. So, I know right now it feels so big and so stressful.

But the truth is, if the other offer is better and it’s going to lead you in the right direction in your career, as long as you do things respectfully and you try to be helpful, you’re probably not gonna burn bridges too poorly.  The way that you burn bridges is by shoving things in people’s faces.

So, I had another client at the same time as the other one who got the first offer, negotiated it, was waiting on the second offer, and told the first company, I’m still waiting on another company, so I need a few more weeks. Well, the first company was not happy with that, and the CEO wrote a message saying, I’m actually quite offended that you went through the whole negotiation process and aren’t gonna sign the document. We’re gonna rescind the offer.

So, these are just, you’ve got to think about this on a personal, person-to-person, inner-personal basis. If you’re being respectful. If you’re trying to be helpful. And if you’re advocating for yourself in a way that is good for you and good for them, they should be respectful in return. Again, companies should treat you how you treat them. So, if you’re being respectful, they’ll be respectful, and I think that that’s a good way to just approach this whole process, no matter what variation you have in your offers and negotiations.

Mac Prichard:

Well, it’s been a terrific conversation, Martin. Now, tell us, what’s next for you?

Martin McGovern:

What’s next for me is I’m actually studying to be a therapist in addition to being a career coach, and I am very excited about workplace wellness and how to manage anxiety, and I’m currently working with clients through my Unstuck Coaching Program and really helping them overcome these mental barriers, and move things forward in their career.

Mac Prichard:

Terrific. I know that listeners can learn more about your Unstuck Coaching Program and your services in general by visiting your website,, and you also invite listeners to connect with you on LinkedIn. As always, I’ll hope they’ll mention that they heard you on Find Your Dream Job when they reach out to you.

Now, Martin, given all the great advice you’ve shared today, what’s the one thing you want a listener to remember about how to juggle two job offers and not burn your bridges?

Martin McGovern:

The main thing I’d want to say is slow down. You don’t have to respond within ten minutes. You can take your time. Talk to someone, go for a walk, calm your nervous system down before you start sending emails and trying to have these conversations. You want to do these things in a calm, helpful way, and if you can just help yourself calm down before you respond, it’ll make this process much easier.

Mac Prichard:

Make sure you never miss an episode of Find Your Dream Job.

Subscribe to our free podcast newsletter.

You’ll get information about our guests and transcripts of every show.

Go to

Again, that’s

Next week, our guest will be Scott Clyburn.

He’s the founder of North Avenue Education. It’s a tutoring company that offers test preparation, study skills coaching, and academic tutoring.

When you apply for a job, you may think all you need to do is to provide facts about your career.

That’s a mistake, says Scott. Every application should share who you are and what makes you different.

Join us next week when Scott Clyburn and I talk about how to tell your career story in your job application.

Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.

This show is produced by Mac’s List.

Susan Thornton-Hough schedules our guests and writes our newsletter. Lisa Kislingbury Anderson manages our social media.

Our sound engineer is Matt Fiorillo. Ryan Morrison at Podfly Productions edits the show. Dawn Mole creates our transcripts. And our music is by Freddy Trujillo.

This is Mac Prichard. See you next week.