Don’t Jump the Gun!

Remember that odd old saying “It isn’t over ‘til it’s over”? One way to interpret that old saying is: don’t assume something is finished, or a done deal, too early. In the world of career transition, this still applies. We’ve recently seen several situations in which a career transition client of ours has received an offer, verbally and also in writng, that was subsequently withdrawn or rescinded due to organizational changes. It has been a good lesson for all of our candidates since we preach keeping other options open and the network active and warm until the start date is reached.

Active professionals in career transition can sometimes generate two or three offers, with the trick being getting them to “land” at roughly the same time so that an effective comparison can take place. This also mitigates the risk that one of the offers is withdrawn or rescinded.

The issue of offers evaporating is not a common occurrence by any means and I think our recent experience was a bit of an anomaly. However, it did remind us of the importance of not pulling back when an offer appears close. The world is full of stories of career transition clients who were told an offer is coming and so relax and stop networking, following up on leads or applying to positions for which they appear qualified. In many situations, this has proven to be a mistake. After the offer fails to materialize, the candidate is left with ramping up the search they let grow cold. We understand that the job search is painful for many people so it’s not surprising how seductive it would be to stop the process once an offer appears imminent. But, it’s important to press on and keep all options open, and continue to generate more, until it’s really over. Some thoughts to consider if you are currently in transition:

1. Be alert and vigilant when you interview. Understand how critical the job is and how subject it might be to organizational changes. This also suggests doing sufficient research ahead of time to understand what’s happening at the organization that might affect this role. Be comfortable asking about potential impacts to the role.

2. When told an offer may be coming (or is coming) take that with a grain of salt. Keep all other activities going, don’t cancel scheduled networking appointments or stop reviewing and responding to leads sent your way. As one might do in sales, keep filling the pipeline.

3. It’s ok to let other organizations know you have been told an offer is coming… not to necessarily use that as leverage but rather to be courteous. If people at other organizations are working to bring you in, they should not be surprised by learning that you received and accepted another offer. Give them the chance to accelerate their process if they can and are that interested in you. However, never make up an offer to put pressure on a prospective employer and understand that if their interest isn’t strong, you may force their hand and just make it easier for them to dismiss you as a candidate (e.g. since you are all set).

4. Stay in contact with people you’ve met in your networking travels. Many people build and expand their professional network through the career transition process, only to let it lapse once they have a legitimate offer. Make sure to notify the people in your network and thank them for their help and guidance along the way. Follow up later with your new contact information. That network has real value for you.


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