Let’s say you worked hard, have done your best and were able to fend off other contenders for that new job you were seeking; you’ve been made an offer, great and congratulations. What’s that you say? You want to think about it? Okay, but don’t take too long.
Consider this; any smart manager worth his or her salt has a back-up Plan B, a secondary candidate. True, there is no prize for second place when pursuing a single job position but, until there is an acceptance and signed job offer, the race is not over. While you may be relishing your supposed victory, the process is not concluded in the mind of a clever hiring manager. If they’re smart and if they have a choice, they have not bet all their money or chips on you alone. And I assure you there’s a person waiting in the wings who also wants that job. Make a mistake or delay too long and you could blow it. In this competitive jobs market there’s always someone else, hot on your heels, seeking the same job. They’re there, waiting for the lead person to falter or stumble.
Ideally, by the time you receive a job offer, you should already have all the info necessary for a decision one way or the other. After all, at each interview you had a chance to ask questions and, if they weren’t answered to your satisfaction, then an offer is premature and you need answers, and are entitled to the info so you can reach a sound conclusion. Yes, if you want to discuss it with your significant other, of course, do so. If there is any other reason to ask for an appropriate amount of time before giving your official response, that being either a professional rejection or a signature of approval, this is fair. If, in fact, you see something in the offer that differs from what was discussed, absolutely, hit the brakes and get it addressed.
Otherwise, what is an appropriate amount of time for consideration before you commit to an answer? In my humble opinion 24 – 48 hours, or if you receive an offer on Friday they should have your answer on Monday; perhaps you’ll want to respond the same day. I advise my client company’s hiring managers that if anyone, without really good cause, asks for more than a few days, or weeks – I’ve heard of people asking for months, I advise they give a time limit or, in the most extreme case, to pull the offer, rescind it, and find someone who does want the job. Likewise, if I talk to a company looking for someone, the position has been open for a while and I learn they have an offer out to a person who’s been dragging out their decision, I’ll suggest they meet my candidate because it costs them nothing to meet another prospect in the meantime. More than once I have pulled the rug out from under a dawdler and helped a serious applicant to get the job.
Perhaps you may think, “Well, I’m the best, they chose me and if they want me they’ll have to wait!” Yeah, well, I heard some good advice years ago from a man who said, “A person should never believe their own propaganda.” It was good counsel but, sadly, the man who shared it with me didn’t even follow his own advice. Yes, we’re all special to a degree; our parents told us so as well as our teachers, but “hello”, this is the grown-up real world; you’ve got to earn special status and it isn’t awarded, nor can you rest on past laurels, the times are as competitive as ever.
So, here’s the question to ask yourself when you have an offer and everything’s ready to go except for your answer; “What will I know in three days, a week or two weeks that I don’t know today or tomorrow?” If the answer is “Nothing” go ahead, sleep on it for a night if you wish, just to make sure and then give them your answer. Say “Thank you, yes…” and look forward to your new job, or extend them the professional courtesy of telling them “…no thanks”, step out of the way, give someone else a shot and continue with your job search in another direction.
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