Monday, July 29, 2013

Resignation Prep

Some readers see the title and think, “What, resignation prep, is that a joke?” Resigning from one job to move on to another is an afterthought for most people. However, among experienced recruiters, we know the process is not yet finished when a job offer has been accepted. No, we still have to get the person we’ve represented through their resignation; we know there is still potential for things to go wrong and kill the deal. So what does this mean for you, the applicant, who has just emerged from a strenuous interview process. After all you’ve won, you got the job, the rest is easy isn’t it? Not so fast. 

I’ve worked with a lot of people who dismissed my advice and found that, when it was time to leave their current job, they experienced just as much, and sometimes more, stress and grief than they did going through the recent interview process. Especially if you’ve done a good job, performed well and have been a valued member at your current place of work, when it is time to leave, a few things can occur you may not expect or be prepared for. Here are a few examples:
  • They may not want to accept your resignation
  • They may ask you to delay your resignation so they can consider other options
  • They may present you with a counter-offer
  • Your manager may take it a little too personally
Each of these points are easily a topic for separate blog entries at a later date, but let me at least explain each one just a bit. 

Won’t accept your resignation
If you are a valued employee they may recognize you’ll be hard to replace. So they’ll just come out and tell you they don’t want you to leave. Meanwhile, in your own mind you’re already outa’ there and looking forward to your new job. So, now what are you going to do? If your decision is final, there should be no problem as you stand your ground, resolute about your decision to leave. If you are not then, well, get ready, you are about to get back on the roller coaster. 

Ask you to delay your decision
Perhaps they will conceive of the idea that if they can get you to delay your resignation they can convince you to reverse your decision. You’ve likely caught your employer off guard; they weren’t ready for this. Giving them breathing room will only make it tougher for you to make a clean break, if that is what you seek. Likewise, they are betting you will blink first with this delaying tactic. 

You may get a counter-offer
They may offer you more money or some other enticement to stay. You may take the bait and be willing to stay. Depending on the circumstances, it might not be a career killer, but I know that most of the time, about 6 months after the fact, most people who’ve accepted counteroffers realize it did nothing to cure the symptoms that led to their decision to leave. Meanwhile, the other job for which you interviewed and won has gone away.

Your manager will take it as a personal affront
Managers at all levels are under increased pressure to deliver results; your boss also has a boss. Your choice to leave might cause an unpleasant reaction if they personalize your choice to leave. The brevity of this blog prevents me from sharing some nasty treatment others have experienced when they tried to professionally exit. Most people might not experience this, but many of the people who did also thought that resigning would be a simple matter. 

So, how can you avoid this potential difficulty at a time when you should be celebrating? I suggest first and foremost that before you accept a new job offer you consider these scenarios, because if you aren’t serious and you haven’t yet discussed with your manager the reasons you are not happy and considering a new job, then you’re not serious. Likewise, if you haven’t run these scenarios through your head and are ill-prepared, then you’re just asking for the drama. 

However, if your mind is made up that you want to leave, you have a new job and all that’s left is to resign in a professional manner, don’t be swayed by delaying tactics or anyone projecting onto you their own issues. Before you resign craft your resignation letter, make an appointment and hold your head up, confident of your decision - its business, it’s not personal and don’t allow anyone to make it that way.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Three to Five

No, I am not describing a prison term although some people feel incarcerated with jobs that are taking them nowhere, leaving them stuck, chained in place, withering away their full potential. I know there are those who might say in the current overall jobs market you should be happy just to have a job. Sorry, but I don’t belong to that crowd. I’m cursed or blessed, depending on your perspective, with being an optimist. I think in terms of potential opportunities that can improve and elevate one’s station in life. I consider most obstacles to be distractions and bumps along the road of life, to be avoided or overcome. 

Three to five years is my general guideline when I advise people about their career forecasting, development, occasional self-appraisal and progression planning. 

Even if you are gainfully employed and relatively happy, I think it is wise to periodically stop and take stock of where you’ve been, where you are and where you’re going, even if it’s momentary and you conclude all is generally okay. 

I also suggest this unit of measure when you will ask the interviewer, someone who would potentially be your direct hiring manager, “If I perform well in this job, where can I find myself in 3 to 5 years?” It is also a great question to ask someone who might be your future boss and you can learn a lot with this question. Even if they evade you, this has value to you regarding your decision to continue to pursue that particular job, or not. Asking what may occur in one year is too shortsighted, as you’ll have had barely enough time to truly settle into the job, and asking about a longer time frame, such as 10 years out, is unrealistic and silly. But 3 to 5, as Goldilocks (of the three bears fairy tale fame) would say, “…is just right”. 

I am often asked how long a person should stay in a job before making a move and this same time frame applies. Again, using this same measure, if you find that after 3 to 5 years your career progress is stalled, and you don’t see any development or progress ahead of you, maybe it’s time to go elsewhere, where if you do your part, you can advance. Your periodic performance review is a good time to raise these questions without adversely attracting attention. This attitude of periodic appraisal and subsequent goal setting helps to maintain your value as an employee, because to keep you they should be investing in you; if they are investing in you they are less likely to let you go. And if they invest in you it will also make you more desirable, whenever the time comes and you will be searching for a new job.  

I’ve spoken with people who worry that changing jobs every 3 to 5 years could have a negative affect as to how you are perceived by future potential employers, but this is not the case. Consider this; as a headhunter I know that companies, for various reasons, are sometimes reluctant to consider a person who hasn’t advanced themselves, who sat idly in the same job and position 11, 12, 13 or more years, as they are to a person who’s  changed jobs every 10 to 18 months, time and again. I intend no ridicule of those who have been in the same job and have performed the same function for a long time, but it is a fact that if you are not making an effort to continually further develop your professional skills in the current jobs market, you are limiting your potential for both retention in your current job and future opportunities with other employers. That’s just how it is. The jobs market is fluid and you need to adapt to and move with it to your best advantage. Using the forecast measurement of 3 to 5 years is my best recommendation to periodically consider what is on your horizon.

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Monday, July 22, 2013

The Great Equalizer: Being An Active Participant

At face value, it’s obvious the interviewer and interviewee are not positioned equally. So, when you get the call and it’s your turn, you can either step up and show your best, or just show up. If you think you will have little influence over the situation, then you won’t. An interview is an opportunity over which you can and should exert influence. After all, this isn’t just about them and their company, it’s also about you also. If you attend the interview only as a bystander, just there and only reacting to that which is asked of you, the reality is that you’re not even trying. 

If you seek to maintain your dignity and to be treated with the same respect you show to the interviewer, there is one sure way (among many) to raise your stock in the eyes of those considering you for potential employment. During the interview, actually be a participant in the process. 

By listening and asking well-formulated questions you are demonstrating another dimension of your qualifications for consideration. Oddly, there are many people who, for a variety of excuses, are reluctant to do more than answer only that which is asked of them. It’s not only the interviewer who determines the course of the meeting; you, too, have the power to influence and you owe it to yourself to do so. Perhaps there is something about which you require more clarification, additional information or you feel compelled to investigate and further probe an aspect you think is being glossed over or overlooked. You have a responsibility to not only yourself but also to the company you may end up working for to speak up and ask.

Being an active participant isn’t always easy, it requires effort; your brain shouldn’t be set on cruise control but, instead, be watchful for twists, turns and potential obstacles and react accordingly. Believe it or not, some interviewers are accustomed to people who sit there and nod in agreement; FYI, companies don’t usually hire someone who is like everyone else, they want to hire the person who is best qualified, suitable and stands apart somewhat from the rest in a positive way. I have heard hiring managers comment about someone they interviewed, who “really paid attention and asked great questions”. Compare that with, “Ah, they were okay but no different, no better or worse than anyone else I’ve interviewed.”

I am confident at one time or another most everyone has heard, near the end of an interview, “Do you have any questions?” You absolutely should have questions, both those you’ve brought with you and others you’ve formulated during the interview. In fact, it is odd and a bit awkward when a person replies that they have no questions. This kind of flaccid response might cause them to pass you by, in favor of someone else who is more interested and demonstrated their interest.

So, instead of being little more than only physically present for an interview as too many people do, be an actual participant, leverage the event as best you can, get the information you need to make an informed decision. At the same time, you’ll clearly define yourself in the eyes of the interviewer. You don’t have to be a bystander or a victim of fate, it all depends on your commitment and willingness to invest in yourself; to what extent you want to gain control of your own individual circumstance. And if you do encounter some occasional unpleasantness for the simple act of asking questions you think necessary, best to find out during the hiring process, before you begin to work for such a person or company with so little concern about what matters to you.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Importance of Interview Prep

It is a simple and sad fact that most people do very little interview prep before they show up, all nervous and sweaty. I suggest part of the reason for their anxiety could be because they’ve shown up having invested little or no time in learning about the very company for whom they seek to work and, therefore, have good reason to be nervous. 

I recognize that interview styles and methods vary, and everyone does things slightly different from one another, however, you can never really know what to expect when you walk through the door. On the other hand, some things are predictable and somewhat ritualistic. If you are aware of this you can capitalize on it and thus gain advantage over others, who show up for their interview, go through the motions, but do little or nothing more. I am not suggesting anything that is too tough and anyone who wants to make a better impression at an interview can do so. Plus, no amount of education takes the place of simple prep. I’ve witnessed college grads with a sense of entitlement get blown out of the water by a supposedly lesser-educated person, who was more serious and better prepared. It doesn’t require much time, 30 minutes to an hour max and, with so much information available online, no one has an excuse to not be better prepared by the time they shake hands with an interviewer. I am referring to basic stuff that people take for granted; some of the same people who later complain about how unfair the system is. But it’s up to you whether you will choose to navigate the system with aplomb (confidence, self assurance), or wander aimlessly only to be chewed up, no better off.

Here’s an example of a very typical and predictable question you can almost always bet you will hear, “So, what do you know about our company?” This is one of the first questions you’ll get during a first interview and the only thing we’ll focus on today. It is a fair assumption, is it not, that if you want to work for an organization perhaps you might have done a little homework and know something about the company? Depending on how you answer will set the tone for the rest of the meeting, for it’s an easy question, if you took a few minutes to be better informed. Would it surprise you to know many people are actually caught off guard and are at a loss for words? This simple question is about as predictable as, “So tell me about yourself”, which is a whole other blog entry.
Even if you are meeting with a company with as high a profile as, let’s say, IBM, Microsoft, even McDonalds, how well can you answer that question? This, ladies and gentleman, is just one of many examples as to how people, who are serious about improving their chances, begin to separate themselves from the herd of others, who are simply goin’ through the motions and stumbling their way through the process. 
So, what do I mean about preparing yourself for this kind of question? First of all, I’ll assume you actually have sincere interest in the companies with whom you are applying to work. If this is the case, go to the company website. Read through About Us or the equivalent page. There you’ll find historical company info and a good explanation of their business. Don’t brush this off, if you go into Microsoft and they ask this question, and you only tell them you know they are a software company without an elaboration, you will have wasted their time and yours. Next, check out the Press Release or News page. This will give you info about current company events, so that during your interview you are clearly well informed. If it is available, check out their page that lists company management; who knows, you may be able to learn something about someone with whom you’ll be meeting. 
What I’ve just described is the very basic fact finding you should do before any first interview. So that, when you have occasion to be asked this question you will have more to offer than other people and demonstrate why you are a better choice than someone who interviews by the seat of their pants, with their fingers crossed.

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Negotiating The Money and The Big Picture

In my last blog entry I shared the most basic guidelines for a sensible way of looking at the subject of money and for what to aim. In fact, I suggest you step back and view it from a wider angle. 

There is and should be a balance and trade-off consideration. For example, if it’s a great job you may be a bit more flexible on your monetary demands and vice versa. But let’s say you get a verbal offer and the hiring manager floats a test balloon to see your reaction. If the money comes in lower than you wished or expected, your first reaction might be to counter immediately and begin the back and forth banter. However, not before you ask more questions and learn about the entire package. Anytime there is a bonus structure or benefits at stake you have to take into consideration the total cash value. For example, if they provide to you a cell phone for business, an expense account, or paid meals, a notebook or other things, these have cash value when you lump it all together. So, before you focus singly on the salary, get the full picture of what is being offered and how it is structured. 

Another important thing for you to consider; when is the first performance review, is there a probationary period linked to a pay increase? For example, they may start you out at a salary level that is lower than you want, but if you ask you may learn that after a short probation period it will be boosted close to where you’d like to be. Or, you may learn the first performance review is 6 months from start date, so if you prematurely roll your eyes and bristle at the low salary you are being offered before learning the additional details, you might make yourself look impulsive, short-sighted and not as clever as you may think you are, so use your head. Especially if it is a verbal offer relax, you’re not signing anything at the moment. On the other hand, they may make you an offer that, when you probe further, you’ll learn they scratched together enough to meet your salary expectations. However, the trade off is that you won’t be eligible for a pay increase for a year-and-a-half because, to get the deal done, they’re essentially bringing your first review pay increase forward now and the budget won’t allow another pay increase, which you would have gotten later. The only way to know this is to ask – and you should ask; they asked you a lot of questions to prove you are worthy of hiring, you should exercise the same scrutiny. 

Don’t lose sight of the opportunity itself, there may be a justifiable reason for sacrificing your wants a little bit to get your needs fulfilled and maybe the job in question has good job growth potential and/or security. My motto in any and every business endeavor, whenever possible, is a goal of both sides engaging from a standpoint of shared risk and mutual respect. Sometimes people enter a process with the right mindset but, as soon as money becomes the subject, they get tunnel vision, lose their mind and let greed take over. Falling into this trap can cause you to blow it so take stock occasionally as to what your primary motivation and goal was / is; it is never only about money. 

Clearly, during these last few years there are more people competing for jobs, and so employers are in a stronger position to dictate their terms. If you find yourself in a situation that is not to your advantage, much less fair, then you’ll be in the difficult position of deciding if it is better to say thanks, but no thanks and walk away. Hopefully, you’re pursuing more than one opportunity anyway. As an individual, only you know what you can and are willing to accept. Being well informed before making any decision is your burden, and not that of the company with whom you are seeking employment. 

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

For How Much Money Should You Ask?

Ah, money! It shouldn’t be the primary motivator for any job seeker, but it ranks up there near the top. I maintain that too many people get it bass ackwards and are easily lured to the money component; but that’s not what this blog entry is about. 

In many jobs there simply is not a lot of room for you to negotiate salary or wider aspects of compensation; for example, in retail, union scale, government jobs and many others there are limitations and/or no room for discussion. You’re presented with a salary scale and an offer, take it or leave it. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least make an attempt, it is an important consideration. When is the right time to ask or discuss money and how can you best approach the subject?

First let’s talk about a few don’ts. It is never a good idea to discuss money in the first interview if it can be avoided for two primary reasons; first, because you’re there to learn about the job. Why would you talk about money before you know what you’ll be doing; in reality that advert you answered doesn’t really tell you anything about the job. Second, until you can demonstrate to a hiring manager your value as a potential employee, why would you categorize yourself (in monetary terms)? You might end up short-changing yourself or, worse, price yourself out of consideration. Until you know about the job and they learn more about you, all you’re doing is throwing numbers around with nothing on which to base it – it is shortsighted and just plain dumb. It’s no one’s business what you earn, especially in a first interview, as it has no bearing on your ability to perform the job you’re there to discuss. How to avoid this and side-step the money question is good information and instructive – but that is a separate blog topic for another day.

So, for how much should you ask?
Some people behave as if they are dickering back and forth at a flea market, swap meet or  pawn shop. They’ll state a ridiculously high number they know is out of reach with the assumption the other side will automatically come back with a much lower number. This little back and forth thing is not the way to negotiate a salary and, among pros, we know this denotes ignorance or a general lack of awareness. Or, it indicates a lack of seriousness on the part of the job candidate. I usually wash these people out of the process because I don’t like games. But it’s not just applicants; there are also some cheesy hiring managers who think nothing of insulting the intelligence of applicants they meet with ridiculously low offers, hoping they’ll get no push-back. 

So here’s a traditional guideline; if you are currently working, and seeking to change jobs, up to about a 20% increase is not outrageous; however, it doesn’t matter how much you ask for if you cannot also demonstrate during the interview process why you are worthy of what you are asking. Some people claim, due to the deteriorating job market of the last few years, the 20% needs to be adjusted downward, although I think that percentage level is still valid. If you are not working and you are unemployed, it is hard to realistically ask for or expect more than the same as you were making. Plus, the longer you are unemployed the more your bargaining power decreases. If you’re not working, I suggest your goal should simply be to try as best you can to get what you were earning previously, when you were employed. The sad reality of the current economy is that many people are finding that jobs are paying less than they once did.

During my recruiting career I ask two questions that help me frame my efforts on behalf of anyone I represent: 

·         What would you (realistically) like to earn?
·         What do you need to earn (and cannot go below)? 

Then, I try to help them obtain something between those numbers. This is the most basic guideline you can use. However, you should also look at the bigger financial picture and we’ll talk about that next time.

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Asking For Personal Concessions During the Interview Process

What happens if, during the interview process for reasons of bad timing, there could be something that might conflict with your ability to start a new job? You worry about saying anything that will jeopardize your chances of maintaining a good impression, especially if you are to be the one selected to receive a job offer. 

Perhaps you already had plans to attend a wedding out of town or have a vacation    planned in advance; reservations are made, airline tickets are bought and paid for. Or you have some exams coming up or a certification training class that will boost your value to a company, but you find yourself in the midst of the interview process. There are positive signs and they imply that if selected they’d like for you to start immediately. So what do you do, miss this opportunity? Maybe not. 

If it is something that you can’t, or really, really, really don’t want to cancel, the mistake many people make is to put it off and wait ‘til the end of the hiring process because they fear the admission won’t go over well, which often is the case. Or, they opt for the other extreme and spill everything in the first interview and then wonder why they didn’t get a call back. So what can you do, how can you interview in good faith, concentrating your efforts on proving why you’re the best person rather than a preoccupation with something of a potential problem that, once revealed, could mess it all up for you? 

I suggest you don’t bring it up at the first interview; the function of the first interview is to learn more about the job and they also want to get to know you. Who knows, afterward you may determine you don’t really want to go any further in the process and they may feel the same about you. However, once you have a second interview scheduled, it is between this point and before there is talk of a job offer when money and benefits are discussed. It is during this time to tell them you are interested but there is an issue of timing that could be a problem; however, you hope it can be dealt with in a mutually agreeable manner. Of course, there is always the chance they will not want to proceed and they may choose someone else – that is up to them. However, very often I have witnessed hiring managers will work with a person in whom they are interested and would like to hire,  as long as the applicant didn’t play any games with them, it’s not a deal killer.  

So if perhaps you were interviewing for a job that would potentially begin at the beginning of next month and you have a vacation planned for the third week of the same month, will that mess things up? It depends. You could make the hiring manager aware of it and instead of delaying a start date or removing yourself from consideration, you could suggest the following as just one possibility: “Is it possible I could start, get on board and meet my co-workers, then take my vacation (or whatever) as planned and get down to business as soon as I return?” If you’ve had a chance to demonstrate your suitability, but have not waited until a point at which they’ll feel you’ve not been open and honest with them, you might be surprised that they will work with you. Of course it is a gamble to some degree, but your alternative is to withdraw from the process, and why do that without first leveling with them, trying to make this a mutually agreeable and beneficial solution?
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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Taking Charge of Yourself and Getting Decisions

That’s what it’s all about, getting a decision. None of us can dictate the outcome of an interview although, if we could, we would. But you do have more influence than you may think. I find, however, that in the digital era more than at any other time I can remember, an increasing number of people feel more separated than ever from the process of which they are personally a part. No wonder, with increasing reliance on web-based processes, there is little room for participation until the time you get the call and subsequent interview. So you had better make the most of it, which is why I write my blog, to help people make the most of the limited time spent in the interview process, while engaged in the give-and-take dialogue with hiring managers. Just to frame this conversation, what is the goal of each step of the interview? To be invited back for the next one, and the next… But first you must recognize you have more power than you are aware to affect your own outcome. 

Frequent readers of this blog know I am a strong proponent of adapting sales methods to your job search and interviewing efforts. You have the power to influence, guide and nudge the process. If you don’t want to feel like a victim of the process, you must  position yourself as an equal participant of the process from which both parties seek a win-win result. 

The sales method for getting a decision is called a close, as in closing the sale, which merely means to bring it to a conclusion (read) decision. There are many different closes, and I can’t claim to know them all, but there are a number of them that are applicable to your interview situation. Sadly, a 600-word blog entry is not sufficient in order to provide readers with the finer points, so I suggest that for anyone interested, my book provides more details on the subject in one handy resource.

As an example of what I am talking about let’s consider one of the simplest closes to use; the assumptive close. Although it is the simplest it can be difficult for some people because it exudes and portrays a level of confidence; some people even think it is borderline aggressive – but this is not the case. 

In a sales scenario, the sales person uses the assumptive close after having answered all the customer’s questions and they have no additional concerns, and they signal that they like what is offered. So, you ask for the sale in an assumptive manner and say, “…how many would you like and when do you want delivery?” And why not, everything points in that direction, doesn’t it? 

Let’s be clear about something, companies are less than thrilled with people who display no confidence in themselves or their efforts so, with that in mind, the assumptive close strikes the right tone; learn to use it. Always be respectful and professional, but you are an individual with dignity. Ditch the submissive and ingratiating wimp words, such as “maybe, perhaps, I hope, I wish…” and replace them with, “when, how, where, I look forward to, can we…” Use these words in both verbal and written communications; for example, in a cover or letter of introduction don’t suggest, “I hope to hear from you” but, instead, use “I look forward to hearing from you”. Following an interview, your thank you note should read “I look forward to our next meeting” and not, “I hope we can meet again.” Comparing the two mannerisms, they convey two quite different perceptions of you as an individual – with which do you want to be identified; how do you wish to be viewed? Do you think it is better to be viewed as someone with a cup in their hand looking for charity or an individual offering a firm handshake on an equally respectful footing? 

In your efforts to influence change in the way you are received and perceived, applying even this small adjustment can cause others to draw a different conclusion about you, not to mention the effect it can have on your own self-confidence and self-image. Learn it, live it and believe in yourself; inevitably better things can happen as a result.

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Monday, July 1, 2013

Accepting a Job Offer While Protecting Your Own Interests

At face value the title seems a little ridiculous and elementary, but no decision should be made without some forethought, even if only a few minutes' contemplation. This topic sounds so basic some may think, “DUH!” But when the time comes, many don’t know how to react in a manner that will protect their self interest when it's decision time. 

There are basically two kinds of job offers; a verbal offer and a written offer. Sometimes a person will receive only the written job offer, without previous discussion, but a verbal offer always precedes the written. The verbal offer is really sort of a test balloon presented by an interviewer because often a company wants to ensure you will accept before they put it on paper. No hiring manager wants to go back to their boss with egg on their face and admit the person they were enthusiastic about hiring and were sure would accept, in fact, didn’t. So when you approach the end of the interview process and the offer stage, this is your last chance to clarify your questions or concerns, as well as any negotiated points, such as compensation. And no one should accept an offer unless all of their questions or concerns have been addressed. 

At a final or near-final interview you may hear something like this, “…we’d like to offer you this position. We would like to offer you a salary of XXX with a possible bonus…” If you have no additional questions and you like what you’ve heard, here is the way to continue in the process to a win-win for both sides and yet still maintain some wiggle room, in case you need or want to get out without hurting your reputation or future status. You’ll say: “Thank you for the offer and I accept conditionally, on a final review of the written offer / contract.”  Deliver it however you wish, if you don’t want to sound like a robot, but the message you want to get across, albeit more politely is this, “Yes, I want the job and if it’s as you say, the answer is yes, for the moment, but I'd like to  see it in writing.” The key is that you are clearly saying yes while making it equally clear it depends on the contract containing the same things.  

In this manner you have accomplished a few things; they know, because you made it clear, that you are interested and to such a degree they will likely stop interviewing additional candidates. This also can help to prevent a last-minute person or internal referral from coming in and scooping this opportunity out from under you because they were either more serious or interested than you’ve been perceived to be – especially if you’ve been elusive, indecisive or vague. Yet, you’ve maintained for yourself a veiled but real escape clause just in case the printed offer or contract differs from what was stated verbally to gain your acceptance. 

But be vigilant, until you have a signed offer or contract in your hand you have nothing, and should continue pursuing other opportunities, until such time. For example, it does happen that a person might get a verbal offer and in between the verbal and written offer they will get a call and someone says, in essence, “Thanks, we like you and it’s been fun but we just instituted a hiring freeze.”  GAME OVER. Then what? Incidentally, an email or text message saying “We want to hire you” is not a written offer. Spare yourself some grief and avoid the emotional roller coaster. You can’t control the outcome but you can influence the process by being at least as proactive as you are reactive.

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