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What to Do While Waiting for a Job Offer

Waiting for a job offer – or waiting for an employer to give you some sort of response and feedback following a job interview – can be one of the most frustrating parts of the job search process.

In today’s economy, many companies might be thinking twice or three times before hiring a new staff member. In that regard, it might help to explain why you aren’t getting a quick response following an interview or why you’re waiting around for days or weeks for a job offer that you believed was coming your way.

Mind you, the hiring manager might just be lazy, incompetent or both. That happens too. Sometimes you’re dealing with someone who isn’t really that motivated and will get around to it when they get around it too.

Recruiters like to say that “time kills deals.” In other words, the longer it takes to get a job offer in the hands of a job candidate, the less likely that the “deal” – the job offer gets extended by the employer and accepted by the job searcher – will get closed.

Job searchers can lose interest in the job, they can find another job in the meantime, they can change their mind, lots of things can happen.

I can recall numerous times where a hiring authority tells me that a job candidate I’m working with has a great cover letter and resume, has done well in an interview and they feel good about the person’s chances to get hired. 

A few days pass by and nothing happens so when I call the manager for an update, I’m told there isn’t one.

A few more days pass by and nothing has happened. I follow up again and am again told that there is no update.

A few more days pass by and at this point, I’m fairly certain that no job offer is coming, however I call the manager anyways to get some specifics.

Meanwhile, the job searcher thinks they’re getting a job offer because the hiring manager basically told them as much in the last interview so they’re excited and they’re calling me every day for an update.

When all is said and done, the person doesn’t get a job offer and typically they’ve soured on the company for screwing them around and maybe even on me because they think I had something to do with it even when I didn’t.

I faced this same issue early in my career when I was waiting for an interview with a company that I was told (I was working with a recruiter on this job) they wanted to interview me. In fact the recruiter told me I’d hear directly from the hiring manager on a specific day so I literally waited by the phone on the day for the call.

It never came. I never got a call that day and I was pretty upset because I figured they were no longer interested.

I called the recruiter several times for updates however he didn’t have any. The recruiter told me not to worry, that the call would come.

Two more days passed by and by now, I figured the job must have been filled and they just never bothered to tell me. Instead, I got a call from the recruiter telling me he had spoken with the hiring manager and had scheduled the interview. So I was relieved, however I was still a bit angry that two days had passed by and no one had told me anything.

Fast forward to after the interview had taken place, I again was told that good news was coming from the company, that they wanted to hire me. Again, I was given a specific time frame when I’d get a call from the hiring manager with the specifics and again the call never came on time. 

Another 2 days passed by and I was again following up with the recruiter to get an update however again he didn’t have one.

Finally, I got a call from not the hiring manager, but one of his staff who had interviewed me and she told me they were hiring me.

Once I started with the company and I learned more about my manager, I realised why he had been so late with the interview and job offer and why he’d missed both deadlines, that he had in fact set himself.

He wasn’t a timely person. 

He was late for meetings, was always rushing around trying to be on time, and this is simply who he was. He was not a person who was very good at being on time and to be honest, he didn’t seem to care much or notice. Others in our group often joked and complained about how unreliable he was in terms of timeliness. I recall group meetings when he’d show up 20 minutes late quite regularly.

Had I known about his lack of time management skills ahead of time, I probably wouldn’t have worried so much when he never contacted me at the previously mentioned times.

But I didn’t know. And chances are you don’t know much about the hiring manager(s) you’re dealing with when you’re waiting for them to do something ie. interview you, check your references, offer you the job, etc.

What can you do about it? 

I was able to follow up with the recruiter I was working with since he was working between me and the hiring manager. I could call the recruiter for updates. If you’re working with a recruiter, I would listen to their instructions and follow up with them for updates regarding a job you’re applying for.

But should you call a hiring manager directly for an update on your candidacy if you’re dealing directly with them and not a recruiter? If they’ve given you a time frame for a response and the time frame has passed and you have no response, it’s certainly reasonable that you might call them or email them for an update. It could be just a diverse workplace and they are busy. I wouldn’t contact them the moment the deadline has passed however you might try to contact them the next day for an update if you still haven’t heard.

In some cases, you might have a situation where you are waiting for Company A to respond, and then get a job offer from Company B. In this case, you think about contacting Company A and asking them for an answer in case there is a chance that you end up with two job offers and get to choose between the two (wouldn’t that be great!?)

In this instance, I’d certainly contact Company A and let them know I need an answer however only if I really do have a job offer from Company B in hand. Some people think they can bluff and get Company A to speed up their decision by pretending they have another job offer from someone else, however this is not a very good idea. If Company A calls your bluff, you’ve got nothing.

Sometimes, you’re on the hiring manager’s time frame – as I was with the example I gave above – and you need to figure out if you want to wait around for their response or not. When you have other job options from other employers, things might be a bit different since you’ve got some leverage.

Even then, sometimes you’re still on the company’s time frame.

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