As a headhunter, at least in the style by which I practice my tradecraft, my task is to represent both parties in good faith. The moment one side or the other begins to play games, all bets are off and I cease to be impartial. One reason is that my reputation is attached to those I represent, on either side, and I just don’t like sneaky and duplicitous people who portray themselves in one manner and then do the opposite.
I have a recent example of someone doing just the type of posturing and delaying as I have described. It is not one of those whom I represent, but the company is an entity that I am actively advising. They have a situation in which they were looking for someone for a critical position and the selected candidate has been sitting on the offer, with the need to, “…think about it” and thereby holding the company who made the offer hostage. So, in addition to my selection of this topic, in order to make my point I am sharing the advice I provided to the company I am advising, exemplifying the discussions that are occurring behind the scenes, while the selected candidate thinks she is in a safe and comfortable position. In it you will see, the reasons as to why I’ve advised the job offer be withdrawn (taken away) from the applicant to whom they’ve provided the job offer:
With almost four weeks having already passed, you are still awaiting a reply. I suggest you consider rescinding the offer. There are a number of reasons to take it away; for example, giving too much time for a decision is very corrosive to your organization. First, it gives the recipient the impression that your organization is desperate and you will create your own problem if she begins to assume to be entitled to this same flexibility in future matters. What I mean is that this candidate will feel a heightened and, as yet, unearned sense of importance and an attitude that suggests that you need her more than is the reality. Perception becomes reality and you will create ego issues before she even starts, which can affect your team to a wider degree. I suggest this person is either awaiting another offer in order to consider both or is stalling in the hopes of gaining a better offer. Or, she will use it to leverage a better circumstance with her current employer. In the meantime, your management team is stalled and unable to move ahead with any indication of actually yet filling the position. So, will (company name omitted) be the bride or the bridesmaid? I suggest at this stage it is important to strongly encourage a decision one way or the other in order to not lose the secondary candidate before they tire of waiting and proceed in another direction. My suggestion is that you impose a strict time limit – a drop-dead date, if in fact she has had your offer for more than a week without any reasonable explanation for the delay of an answer. For example, the question I pose to someone sitting on an offer is: “what will you know in a week (or more), that you don’t already know, right now – it’s time for an answer.” I suggest you give her until the end of this week (longest) for either a yes or no - period. This will portray your company as it is in reality, a confident and good firm with an offering of a good opportunity. If this is the reality then the perception on the market should be the same. She should be reminded that the clock is ticking on an opportunity that, if she doesn’t appreciate and take it, someone else will do so.
So, here’s a question to readers of this blog. Do you think that by the time, or if even the job offer is accepted, the newly-hired person will be as warmly welcomed after playing games like this? Perhaps, but more time will be spent unnecessarily gaining lost ground. My intent is not to scare or to threaten but to make readers aware that, indeed, the clock is ticking. If you have excelled during the interview and there has been mutual interest and enthusiasm to the offer stage, don’t squander it with indecision or intentional delay if it is not absolutely necessary.
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