The only thing better than getting your first job offer is getting your second one. And the only thing better than your second is your third.
If you are willing to entertain offers from other companies, it is your personal obligation to inform these companies that you have received an initial offer as quickly as possible. You may have only one or two others that are even in the running. If so, restrict these multiple offer tactics to them.
Contact the person within the company who would be your Hiring Manager. Let that person know that you have received a competitive offer and tell the manager which company made the offer. The reason for giving out the company name is that you usually will not have to disclose the dollar amount, since most industry insiders have at least a general idea what others in the field are paying. Do not be surprised if the manager suddenly backs off, because they may realize that their company cannot match the other company's wage/benefit package or other perks. If you have scored your initial hit with an industry leader such as P&G in Consumer Products, Boeing in Aeronautical Engineering, Microsoft in Software, or another market leader, you may find it difficult to draw a second offer. The giants are tough to beat. It takes time to put together a competitive offer and some companies may be just as willing to back away as fight. If this happens and you have a true preference for the secondary company, let them know in very direct terms that you are still more interested in them than the company that made the initial offer.
Listen to your heart when deciding between multiple offers. It usually knows what is best for you. Your head will almost always choose the highest dollar offer. Your heart will almost always choose the best employer.
You will find that once the first offer comes in, it is often quite easy to generate others. If you have done an excellent job of developing yourself differentially from your competition, employers will know they have to react quickly to sway you to their side.
You may have the uncommon luxury of choosing from among multiple job offers. While others are scratching and begging for an offer—any offer—you actually have the difficult (?) decision of deciding which employer you like best. Keep all the negotiations open and honest. You will find that honesty is not only "the best policy," but also your greatest competitive advantage. If one company comes up $2,000 short of what you would accept, discuss it with the appropriate party. The employer would much rather shoot at a specific target. For more specifics on negotiating your offer, see the next chapter on Successful Job Offer Negotiation.