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Career Advisor by Edgar Saadi

How to handle multiple job offers

Juggling too many offers? Here's how to turn them down politely. We also help you ask for a raise and decide whether or not Java is for you

April  1997
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In this month's article, we again address a somewhat eclectic mix of reader mail. The first is about handling multiple jobs offers, the second about asking for a raise, and finally we return to the issue of Java and what it means for your career. (1,100 words)

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Handling multiple offers

Dear Edgar,

I'm currently a graduating senior at Washington State University. As you might imagine, I have been interviewing quite aggressively. As a result, I have also encountered an intriguing dilemma -- the multiple job offer scenario. What is the proper etiquette with regard to handling multiple job offers without burning any bridges? Thanks.

Treading Lightly

Dear Treading Lightly,

Multiple offers are always tough: you want to please everyone and just can't. Step one is to write a short thank you note that honestly states how you were impressed with the people and the company. But, after thinking about your current goals and career direction, you have decided to accept another offer. Make the point that, down the road, you hope you are lucky enough to cross paths again (you never know -- you might be interested working with them if the opportunity presents itself in the future.) Thank them for the opportunity and wish them success. Once you have written your note (and organized your thoughts), also give a quick courtesy phone call to thank the manager personally. It will be appreciated.

It's easy. Just be polite and thankful and leave it open as far as the future goes.


How to ask for a raise

Dear Edgar,

I was wondering if there was any way you could send me an example of a "raise proposal." I'm considering sending my boss a proposal for a raise, but I don't know how to word it. I've been working here for over 10 years, and my work load has increased immensely but my salary hasn't changed. Please help. Thanks.


Dear Stuck,

First, talk about it.

I don't understand why you have to write a raise proposal to your boss. If you have any rapport with your boss, I suggest that you talk to him or her directly about it. These kinds of issues are best brought up face-to-face.

Next, state your position.

Mention that you've been there for ten years and watched as other people's salaries have increased while yours has remained the same -- even though your workload has grown significantly. Say that you like it there, but simply feel that you are not properly compensated.

Finally, put it in writing.

Once you get into real negotiations, your boss may in fact ask you to justify your position in writing. This document would then be much like a resume, listing or describing the various tasks you perform in the company and projects that you have brought start to finish.

If your salary really has not changed in ten years, you may also want to update your resume at the same time. It could be time to start looking around.

To Java, or not to Java

Dear Edgar,

I have surfed the Web for days looking for this specific information with little success. I am planning on making a career change. I am trying to determine whether or not to jump into Java programming or into a relatively safer bet with Visual C++. I would prefer Java (more exiting and easier to learn), but I am not sure if it would pay as well or even close to a Visual C++ career. I have also heard that it might even take a year or two before Java is taken seriously by corporations. I have a wife and two kids, so I can't afford to go down from my present salary.

My questions are:


Dear Java-interested,

Ahhh, a familiar question we hear these days. Mark Mangan, from the Pencom Web Works/PWW team, wrote an article on Java careers in last December's Java Report magazine. In researching the story, he developed a salary survey using the feedback from the Pencom recruiters at all our offices. He found that, depending on geography and years of experience, Java programmers make anywhere from $40,000 to more than $90,000.

At the moment, most of the Java work being done is for front-end Web applications; however, this is changing so rapidly that it may be incorrect by the time this column hits the Web. Java is being used heavily on the backends of intranets as well as for entire shrink-wrapped applications. The current version of Corel Office, for instance, was written entirely in Java.

Our research department forecasts that it is very likely that Java will replace C++ over time. And I strongly agree. Once performance issues are worked out, C++ will not necessarily be better than Java. It is quickly becoming a language for general application development. One main reason is that it has a faster development cycle -- it is easier to code in Java.

C++ is so widely used mainly because it is derived from C, allowing developers to implement whole libraries of C and C++ code. (It is, however, useful to point out that C code, which is implemented in C++ applications, is being stuffed into an object-oriented territory, creating a hodge podge that compromises the entire OO nature of the application.)

Although some performance is lost in Java in comparison to C++, and there are virtually no existing libraries in most corporations, it is important to recognize the crucial feature of being cross platform. It is for this reason that the coders of Corel Office only had to write it once. Besides, the performance issues will be worked out (with the advent of such things as the new Java chip), and as people use it, the problem of lack of libraries will of course change.

I think if you are interested in Java -- as you clearly seem to be -- then you should go for it. I think you'll find that there's much more to this new language than just the hype.

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About the author
[Edgar Saadi's photo] Edgar Saadi is senior vice president for Pencom Systems Inc., the largest open systems/advanced systems recruiting firm in the U.S. He specializes in guiding advanced systems careers and helping employees explore all staffing alternatives. Reach Edgar at

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