Job offer advice

Good job offer advice from the Marketing Headhunter. I’d say something about a bird in the hand, but I think we already determined that I don’t like to touch raw poultry.

Anyway, I’ve had candidates decline our offer and then want to revisit. The hiring manager is left thinking ” what changed?”. It’s like telling someone you’ll go to the prom with them because you didn’t get asked by someone better. How do you make the original asker feel good about the situation? And is it possible that your perception of your marketability isn’t consistent with reality. I hate to talk about it on those terms, but there it is…we all have to be real with ourselves though, don’t you think? It helps if you think about your skills as a package you are offering to a hiring company versus offering you, yourself. If they say no, it just means they are looking for a different package.

It’s a tough situation for the job seeker which is why I like the Headhunter’s advice to document what you are looking for up front. This makes you think it through. It becomes real when you put it on paper for yourself and it makes compensation not the main issue in making a decision. It allows you to put the compensation issue aside (does it meet my compensation needs; yes or no) and make decisions based on what you love to do, where you want to be, who you want to work with (or more grammatically correct: “with whom you want to work”).


Great advice.

Comments (15)

  1. randomguymike says:

    Wow, very relevant topic for me today. I’m in various stages with 3 companies right now. We’ll call them Local Company (LC), Dream Company (DC) who happens to be an amazing company you may know located in the State of Washington, and Pretty Sweet Company(PSC) on the East Coast.

    Anyway, DC’s process is moving very slowly. The recruiter I was working (a vendor of DC) with was sick and things got delayed a week because of that. We finally got together and he’s sending his briefing into DC’s recruiters. I was told DC should be back to me to talk in more detail on Monday or Tuesday.

    Meanwhile, PSC only does onsite interviews once a month and has put me off till Nov 30th. I’ve already had them book my travel and things are good to go.

    Finally, LC is ready to move. I told LC about DC & PSC and yesterday they said they’d give me an offer once I said I would end things immediately with them. Here’s where I think it gets more difficult than the article suggests. LC meets all my minimum needs I listed when I starte dmy search. However, DC & even PGC would far exceed them. The culture & geography of DC & PSC are way better. Plus, the companies are way better, overall.

    So, according to the article I should jump on LC, but it’s very hard to do, especially since I’d have to call PSC & DC and say I’m ending it.  I wish it was as black and white as the article suggests, but concurrency makes it tough.

    Plus, I could always stay at Not Good Corp (NGC), where I am now, if somehow they all bomb.

  2. Vicki says:

    Randomguymike – I really want to know what you end up as a final solution….. LC sounds like you may be settling and you would really be happier at the Dream Company or at least PSC (I LOVE that!) LOL!

  3. HeatherLeigh says:

    randomguymike-you are one funny guy (OFG). I can’t be unbiased about your situation. But I can tell you that LC is actually smart for doing what they are doing (if they trust you …which I would assume they do). Of course, they are in the business of doing what is best for them. I’m all about being up front (let me just say that up front…haha), but there is some stalling you can do and not make it too obvious. Think thoroughly about whether you are their dream candidate. They are acting as if they are in the drivers seat which may or may not be the case (but them acting that way is a power move). If you allow them to do that, you are putting them in control. Consider that you may be in the drivers seat. *If* you can work out the timing stuff, the Headhunter’s advice may not apply…you could be looking at more than one offer. Try to get there if you can. If you can’t then you can’t. But since the Headhunter’s advice was about isolating $$ as the issue and you are really talking about the work and the company (and not who will pay you the most), it’s a different situation. At the same time, if you tell LC no, then consider that you can’t go back to them and try to get an offer back right away (you could certainly try though based on how you leave it with them…it’s that whole drivers seat thing).

    This is not official advice (because I don’t want to feel bad if this doesn’t work out and I don’t know enough about you to be able to assess the situation), but it seems to me that if LC knows about the other companies and LCs recruiters are good, they think that those other companies may like you. I think that kind of gives you the upper hand with LC. I’d hate to see you turn down LC and not get anywhere with the other 2 though. I’m not sure "follow your heart" is the right advice here either (though it’s served me well, I’ve pretty much navigated my career with one offer in hand at a time).

    Just make sure you let all companies know about your timeline. I’m guessing that DC might want to light a fire under someone…I’m just saying! : )

    I’m going to ask Harry (the Headhunter) to jump in here too if he’d be so kind…since he’s a third party recruiter (who I’m guessing is very accustomed to helping people work their way through the hiring process at multiple companies), he likely has some advice/insight on this situation that I don’t.

  4. First, I’m really flattered that my post resonated with the group.  Thanks Heather for the coverage.

    I do not know why more people spend more time planning their summer vacations than they do their next career move.  But they do.

    I’ll get to RandonGuyMike in a minute.

    Before starting a job search, job seekers need to understand TWO things in order to separate the logical and the emotional aspects of this major life decision:

    # 1.  Know EXACTLY what they are looking for in a new job in terms of the 3-Fs (Fun, Future, and Finance), and they need to write it down so they don’t waffle later on.

    Look at it this way:  If I were single again and looking for a spouse, I might run a classified for a SWF, Catholic, aged 35-45, etc.  Not because I’m prejudiced against anyone who doesn’t fit that profile — but because marital happiness is based on "value confluence."  People should be no less discriminating with their jobs — and companies should be no less discriminating with their candidates.

    Typically, candidates get hired for what they have done and fired for who they are.  My advice is to figure out who you really are and then screen your potential employers as intensely as you would a new spouse.

    # 2.  UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPT OF STATISTICAL INDEPENDENCE.  Job offers are statistically independent — like coin tosses.  Just because you got "heads" six times in a row does not mean that the seventh coin toss will turn up "tails."  There is a 50/50 chance with each coin flip.  Likewise, in a job search, just because you have been declined six times does not mean you won’t be declined six more times.  OR … The very first interview could be a job offer.  If that happens, then you should know exactly what you want in your next job to make a quick decision.

    Far from thinking that you make quick decisions, your new employer will think that you are A.) decisive and B.) really want to work at their company.

    Those are two very good impressions to make, and they tend to maintain the momentum in salary negotiations and extend the honeymoon period in the new job.

    RandomGuyMike is going to have to create a spreadsheet with all of the career attributes that are important to him and stack rate them.  Then if the timing of the offers is tilts things in favor of LC or PSC, so be it.

    But I’d shy away from stringing companies along.  Companies have feelings and long memories, too.  They’ll remember they weren’t your first choice.

  5. Deb says:

    Here’s my problem with LC….I would NEVER tell someone to "end it" with other companies they were interviewing with.  (Yeah, Heather.  I know I just ended that with a preposition.  ha)

    I want everyone to win.  If our company isn’t the best for them, or it isn’t the right time, I’m okay with that.  I want what is best for the candidate as well as what is best for us.  

    Ideally, I want someone to want to come work for us.  (I’m hearing an old Cheap Trick song.)

    I like knowing that other companies are interested in you.  (It’s kind of like dating.)  If you’re good, they should be.  What I don’t like is someone playing the "Um, yeah, I have another offer" game to get me to move faster than I can.

    Basically, I want honesty.  And I’ve played the honesty cards on both sides of the table.  I’ve called DC and said, "LC is making me an offer and they aren’t my first choice."  And it worked out.  Then again, I just had a dream candidate ("DC") for an opening that isn’t quite open yet (and he knew this) but he couldn’t wait anymore.  I was honest with him.  I told him exactly where we were, he told me exactly where he was.  

    Chalk it up to timing, but it just didn’t work.

    As for the original question….again, it’s like dating….turn me down and then come back?  I’ll be wondering.  Most of all, I’ll be wondering if you weren’t playing both sides and really wanted the other company to come through….but they didn’t.  Which not only makes it seem as though we aren’t a good fit for you, it makes you seem self-serving and dishonest.  (Which, by the way, also isn’t a good fit for us.)

    But if you’re honest about where you are in the process (we all need a job and have a dream and are looking for certain things in life)….if it works, it works.  If it doesn’t now, but works later…then that’s cool.  

    But it’s close to impossible to come back after turning us down after we’ve made an offer.

    By the way, I’d also be terribly interested in how the whole DC, LC, PSC thing works out.

    All the best!


  6. HeatherLeigh says:

    Harry- you rock. It’s about evaluating the opportunities. Great way to frame the decision.

    Deb-hehe…I’m not the grammar police, trust me. I just figured out the difference between it’s and its. I like the way you present the company perspective. I also like the honest approach. I at least appreciate that LC is trying to play poker. But yeah, you are right..f you are just open with everyone, nobody gets ticked off. Not being up front can present a separate set of problems. I hope that doesn’t leave randomguymike without an offer though.

    I agree that we defnitely need to know the outcome. Of course, I am rooting for DC to come through!

  7. Wine-Oh says:

    Im all about not settling and going for what you want. Similar situation happened to me this summer. I got an ok offer from an ok company. Wasnt my dream job, but it was a job. After seeking advice from others (including here) I turned it down knowing I risked not knowing when the next offer may come. I didnt want to waste their time or mine. It was the right thing to do. They could hire someone else, who really wanted the job and I wasnt going to be miserable eating Ronzoni for dinner for the next year.

    A month later I did land a dream job that I didnt know I could land. The opportunitiy fell on my lap out of nowhere. That also touches on the functional resume topic of another thread. Its all in the presentation, and chemistry of who you are meeting. The group I work in has some off beat but (but fun) personalities. They told me some other candidates didnt fit in chemistry wise, whereas I fit in right away.

    And yes the interview was like a first date. 2 months later there are days when I am like is this going to work, and days when I enjoy my job. I repreatedly tell myself not to take things personally and I continue to find my footing. There are parts of the job I hate, like status reports and chasing down team leads for things (when they dont respond to e mails), and strong personalities who get offended when they arent invited to a meeting.

    Ok this is way too long, so Ill wrap it up. Bottom line, follow your instinct. If you want the DC or PSC focus your attention on it. Ask the recruiter if theres anything you could be doing in preparation for the meetings. Keep in constant contact and be enthusiastic and upbeat. Dont let them see you sweat.

    Good luck and keep us readers posted!

  8. Since I don’t know jack about recruiting (well, apart from having applied for internships and part-time jobs) I’ll focus on what I do know:

    "…make decisions based on what you love to do, where you want to be, who you want to work with (or more grammatically correct: "with whom you want to work")"

    "who you want to work with" is a perfectly grammatical subordinate clause in modern English. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Your may prefer a different way of phrasing it but that doesn’t make it wrong.

    Same goes for ending a sentence with a preposition. I assume the reason for avoiding it when possible is that it makes a sentence harder to parse, but that doesn’t make it incorrect (or, more precisely, ungrammatical).

    I case you don’t believe me, take it from a real expert:

    More about…who?

    A story up with which I will no longer put

  9. Vicki says:

    So hunting for a new job is like dating? Hmmm… that is interesting. I’ve been married forever and don’t know what dating is like – so maybe this is why I am unsure about the job hunting game. I don’t have SKILLS for proper hunting! (Yet another Napoleon Dynamite reference there.)

    Ok, I’m breaking out my Excel and going to prioritize a bunch of things I see myself needing/wanting from my next job move, get a career coach and learn proper grammar. (I’ve been livin’ too loooong in the south to reeemember how ya’ll communimicate with finesse-nuss und married to uh German who makes me backwards speak sumtimes like da Arhnold in Kalifornee-ah.) 😉

    Thanks to everyone here – great info. Heather, you’re going to have to start charging admittance. Are you getting PPC at least? (I learned all about that from the Marketing Headhunter!)

  10. HeatherLeigh says:

    VIcki-I really hope it’s not like dating. I’m great at the job hunt stuff, the dating stuff not so much : )

  11. randomguymike says:

    Well, I know some folks were curious, but it appears my story may end rather anti-climatically. DC was supposed to get in touch with me Monday or Tuesday, but as of end of business Wednesday nada. So, I’m guessing no news is bad news.

    Meanwhile, LC is dragging things out, which is actualy good. They say they have an offer waiting for a VP’s signature, but now think I may be a better fit for a different position and are going to get back with me at the end of the week with details. This should delay things long enough for me to meet with PSC. I guess PSC now gets promoted to the best available option.

    To be honest, I’m very bummed about DC, but to continue the dating analogy:

    Even though I got stood up by my dream girl and am sitting alone at a nice Italian restaurant, it doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the nice bottle of Chianti I ordred. Maybe after a couple of glasses PSC will even look like DC.

    I’ll keep the readers posted when the story has an ending, though. Hey, maybe I should start one of these blog things :-). I guess I’ve also figured out the answer the next thread, maybe people blog to avoid hijacking other people’s blogs.

  12. HeatherLeigh says:

    Don’t count DC out. Maybe she just couldn’t find the restaurant.

    You are welcome to share your stories here any time! Gives us someone to root for!

  13. randomguymike says:

    Well, just to close this out and to whine some about my poor decision making (sorry) and tout the value of the recruiter:

    On Thursday, LC finally threatened to revoke their offer if I didn’t decide by end of day (incredibly reasonable on their part since it’d been a week since they gave the formal offer).

    I was informed I made it through all the hoops at PSC on Dec 7, except the final job allocation. Unfortunately, I hadn’t heard anything all last week from them, despite many phone messages asking for something and letting them know the source of my urgency. I really didn’t know what was happening.

    Despite that, Thursday at 4:00 I decided I’d wait out for PSC since after interviewing onsite they were absolutely the best thing east of DC in my mind. The fit was amazing, and the culture was great. They also provided numbers of what a position might pay (wow-type good) and that they were looking to bring me in a full level higher than I hoped. Geographically, it was wicked-cool too.

    Then, I called my external recruiter contact with LC to let him know I was going to call LC to decline and why. He went into a 15 minute lecture about how I was turning down an offer for no offer and rebutting many of my reasons for declining. He eventually created a solid seed of doubt in my decision.

    I’m pretty sure he informed LC of my intentions before I gave them a call.  When I called them, and after I hemmed and hawed for a few seconds about declining, they suggested an increase of the offer amount, based on the fact that the difference between $ of LC’s offer & PSC’s indications. I got caught up in the moment, the impressive nature of LC’s sales pitch, and my frustration that I hadn’t heard back from PSC all week. I accepted. So, Jan 2 I start at LC.

    Friday morning I got a voicemail from PSC stating that on Monday they’d have manager to speak with about a job fit at the higher level for a position. Oddly, they didn’t acknowledge any of my voicemails, though.

    I feel a good chunk of doubt now about my choice, but I think this is a testament to the power of the recruiter to the company. All PSC had to do is return one of my calls over the course of the week. Their recruiters lost me. LC was really on top of things and did a sweet sales job. They made me feel like the most important person ever to their organization.

    So, I’m still going to be in a WAY better place than I am now and am happy to be giving my two-weeks notice tomorrow, but I think I’ll always have a lingering "what-if" now that i only have myself to blame for. The call to PSC tomorrow to close things out is going to be heartbreaking for me.

    Thank you all for your help and thank you for this awesome blog. It’s even possible, I guess, that a few years down the road, my new experiences at LC can be leveraged to move to DC if things don’t work out. Of course, that west coast weather right now has the Great Lakes area seeming oddly attractive. Thank you global warming.

  14. HeatherLeigh says:

    Random, I’m thinking that you may be happy with your decision yet. Once it sinks in.

    As for the weather out here in DC land…I’m counting this year as an anomoly. I am finding out all the things that I really did need in my survival kit (the radio, the bettery free flashlights) and that I didn’t know I’d need (air mattress). Of course once I go buy a generator, we won’t ever have another winter like this again.

  15. 247Blogging says:

    Good job offer advice from the Marketing Headhunter. I’d say something about a bird in the hand, but I think we already determined that I don’t like to touch raw poultry. Anyway, I’ve had candidates decline our offer and then want to revisit. The hirin