When you receive a job offer don’t celebrate, not yet, it is premature. I know it is the goal, the brass ring and the prize, but actually there are a few steps yet in the process, shortened somewhat, if you don’t have a current job to resign from first. But let’s not get side-tracked because even at this late stage you must remain focused, even more so. This is the critical part and, even here, it can get screwed up if you are not concentrating on the task at hand and that is – what is your decision?
There is an old saying among sales persons that suggests, “Time kills all deals.” There is a cycle, an ebb and flow if you will, or a level of interest that progressively builds and gains momentum during the interview process. It is at that peak period of mutual interest when the deal is struck, and good faith between parties should be at its zenith. It is at this point in time you want to strike the deal; good marketers and sales people develop these instincts – they know what you should also learn to do on your own behalf, for yourself.
This logic absolutely applies directly to the interview process, and it is most notably that critical moment in time when a job offer is presented. It’s at this moment when the mood is right, when both sides are most interested and working towards the same goal for a mutually favorable and climactic conclusion – everyone’s happy, right? Well yes, for the moment.
So imagine, if you will, more often than I can count I have witnessed all of that mutual interest and enthusiasm wither away because the potential new employee and recipient of the job offer said they wanted to think about it. In and of itself that is fine and nobody should be pressured to accept a job they don’t want or of which they aren’t sure. But how much time is appropriate to consider your answer when it is decision time? Before I answer, consider that by the end of the interview process, all remaining questions about the job should by now be answered to the satisfaction of both the applicant and hiring manager. If they haven’t been addressed then the presentation of the offer is premature – think back, what did they say throughout the interview process? “Do you have any questions?” I am referring to job role and responsibility questions, not the admin stuff that comes at the end.
So when they provide an offer and you tell them you need to think about it, okay, for how long? Unless there is an extenuating circumstance my answer to the question is twenty four, to forty eight hours or the following Monday, if you received the offer on a Thursday afternoon or Friday. That’s it, what’s your decision? Furthermore, I advise client companies I represent that if they don’t get an answer in a reasonable span of time (which I just described) they should consider withdrawing the offer – yep, that makes me a cold -hearted meanie, doesn’t it? But here is the question I asked people who suddenly wanted to put the process into neutral, “What will you know in two weeks that you won’t know tomorrow or the day after?” They usually don’t have a legitimate answer and reply with something like, “Well, I just want to think about it.” No problem, you’ve got a day or two to discuss it with your wife and family, or, if you want to run through everything in your mind one more time, sleep on it -- whatever. But then, make a decision.
You see, my background is in sales and I know that in sales situations a yes means yes, no means no and maybe means no, today. You need to consider what is going through their minds, after you have demonstrated you are an enthusiastic and interested candidate. You’ve proven yourself to be the best choice and then you tell them you want time to think about it and propose some ridiculous time frame? I have had people tell me they wanted a month to consider a job offer. This tells me and telegraphs to the hiring manger one or more of the following:
- You’re awaiting another or a better offer to compare (they don’t like the idea of being a bridesmaid)
- You’re not serious (they don’t like when people play games with them)
- You are indecisive (they don’t like people they cannot depend upon)
- Reality has hit you and you have cold feet (again, they don’t like people they cannot depend upon)
It doesn’t matter which or how many of these points apply to you, or even if they apply; the perception by itself can cloud the overall feeling about you, which was previously glowing and positive. When you do get around to saying yes, you will have squandered a measure of good will – no doubt about it, it’s just a matter of how much because inevitably, ardor cools. And, I don’t want to be a jerk but what you think doesn’t matter, they will begin to lose interest in you. But go ahead and play that game, after all, there are so many other good jobs out there you can afford to dictate terms to employers, right?
I regularly give employers heat about their inability to make decisions and leaving applicants hanging and wondering what’s going on. The excuses don’t matter, trying to legitimize indecisiveness will not better help to attract the best and brightest who might have other options…well guess what, the same goes for you. If you get in the (interview) game and portray yourself as being their best choice -- as a solid, dependable and decisive choice – then, do more than talk about it, do it, or move out of the way or you’ll possibly be run over by someone else who is more serious, while you stand around trying to make a decision.