Reneging on an Offer

You survived the interview process, the company made you an offer and you accepted.  Now you hear from another company interested in hiring you and you want to drop the first offer and take the second one.  What is a job seeker to do?

Consider the impact.  Your word is your reputation and the manifestation of your integrity.  The first company has notified their other candidates that they were not selected and they are busy planning for your first day.  After telling them how excited you were about this opportunity, can you really call them and say you changed your mind?

The world is very flat these days.  You do not know where you might cross paths with that hiring manager or recruiter again but your reputation would precede you.  They would certainly not rush to take your word in the future.

Reneging on an offer also sends a message that you don’t really know what you want.

Before reneging on an offer, be sure you fully consider all the implications.  If you do renege let the first company know as soon as possible and be completely professional about it.  Do your best to maintain the positive relationship.  Be sure offer two is truly the offer you can’t refuse before taking the hit to your reputation.

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When Not to Negotiate Salary

Candidates often assume that they should always attempt to negotiate salary but that is often not the case.  Here are examples of times you should definitely not attempt to negotiate salary with your new employer.

You’ve Already Said “Yes”

After a long job search and multiple rounds of interviews, the call comes with an offer.  It is a great opportunity at a company you admire and respect.  In your excitement you immediately say yes.    While you are excited you begin to doubt yourself.  Should you have asked for me?  How high would they have gone?  What about all those expenses you weren’t considering?  Once you accept the offer presented, it is game over.  You forfeited your opportunity to negotiate when you accepted on the spot.  Do not damage the relationship by trying to go back to the well after you have already accepted.

Their “Best Offer” is on the Table

The new team really wants you on board and they know your expectations are at the top of their range.  Often they will push hard for internal approval first for the highest salary they can get.  They truly don’t want to scare you away with a low ball offer.  They are trying to offer the very best they can.  When they tell you, “we really want you on our team and have put our best offer together,” pay attention.  They have done the best they can.  There is nothing to be gained by pushing for more.  If they are being that direct, they are sending you a clear message.  If you want the job, that is what they can pay you.  Don’t push harder.  It can cause bad feelings.  It is still ok to think about it for 24 hours but this is not the time to negotiate.

Research Supports the Offer

Sometimes they really are offering you the appropriate salary, based on industry, experience, geography, etc.  Do your research in advance to know what to expect.  If you are presented a great offer, say thank you!  Resist the urge to negotiate for the sake of negotiating.

While it is important for candidates to be fairly paid, always keep the big picture in mind.  Don’t walk away from an awesome career opportunity for the sake of a couple thousand dollars.  Know what your floor is in order to live comfortably and find the best fit in role and company.  In the long run, you will be more successful in a job you love.

Don’t Say “Yes” Immediately

Looking for a job is hard work.  It takes a lot of time.  Between informational interviews, networking events, resume updates, customized cover letter and then multiple rounds of interviews, you have invested a significant amount of time and energy.  It is understandable that the excitement peaks when the call comes with an offer.

It is great to be excited but do not accept immediately.  Thank the caller for the offer.  Let them know you are very interested (if you are) and ask for at least 24 hours to review the details.  This is a significant next step in your career and you want to make an informed decision.

First of all, accepting immediately eliminates any option of negotiation.  You may or may not want to negotiate but review all the details before rushing to yes.  Once you close that door, you can’t open it again.  Use the time to identify any outstanding questions and be sure to get answers before you accept the offer.  If you need time off for an upcoming family wedding or some other pre-planned event, this is the time to get that on the table.

Be sure to follow-up within the time you agreed upon with the recruiter.  Hiring managers will respect the fact that you are taking this seriously and are making an informed decision.

Following Up During the Job Search Process

You saw the perfect job posted.  You meet the qualifications.  You submitted your resume and cover letter.  Now you wait.  The waiting can be the most frustrating part for job seekers.  When is it appropriate to follow-up at various stages of the process?

From the moment you first apply, you need to remember that recruiters and hiring managers are busy people.  Filling this open position is far from their only priority.  The company also has a process that needs to be followed.  You don’t have to like this, but you have to accept.  No amount of follow-up from you or other frustrated candidates which change these basic facts.

Following Up On Your Application

If you submitted your application through a referral, wait at least 5 – 7 business days and then politely check in with your contact to inquire about status and next steps in the process.  Check in just once.  If you applied blindly, sending your application online, don’t bother to follow-up.   It is unlikely that anyone will respond and if they do they will not likely share any valuable insights.  You have to let the process play out.

Following a Phone Screen

You just completed a phone screen.  You should send an email thank you to the phone screener before the end of business that day.  Thank them for their time and the information they shared.  Confirm your interest in the opportunity (if indeed your are interested.)  Acknowledge any next steps that were discussed.  This shows interest and strong follow-up on your part.  To really stand out from the crowd, send a handwritten thank you note as well and have it the mail the next morning.

Following an In-Person Interview

Before the end of the day, send an email thank you to the interviewer.  Thank them for their time and the valuable information and insight they shared.  Confirm your interest and next steps.  Refer to something specific you discussed.  Again, write a handwritten thank you note to mail the next morning.

The Black Hole

If time goes by and you continue to hear nothing or the only updated is the dreaded “continuing to evaluate candidates,” it is important to be patient and to respect the process.  Aggressive follow-up or stalking can quickly eliminate you from any further consideration.  Certainly if you receive another offer, it is important to reach out to let them know in case they are interested.  If at least 7 – 10 business days have elapsed, it is acceptable to reach out once for a status update but not all companies will respond.

To help manage the process and your expectations, be sure to ask the interviewer, at EVERY step in the process what next steps they anticipate and what timeline they are pursuing.  Knowing what to expect helps ease the waiting game.

Responding to the Salary Question

Historically, job seekers have been advised to avoid the salary question for as long as possible in the interview process and to never be the one to bring it up.  Reality has intervened.  Hiring managers and recruiters do not want to waste their time or the candidates.  Often the very first question the candidate is asked is about salary in order to qualify the further conversation.  Don’t be surprised if you are asked your salary expectations or your current salary in an initial screening call.

In Massachusetts it will become illegal to ask salary history starting in summer 2018.  In the meantime, you need to be prepared in advance as to how you want to address the question or not.  It is ok in a professional manner, to state that you consider salary history personal information.  You can inquire about the range they are offering or even state your expectations in terms of a range.

In order to provide a realistic range, you must do your homework in advance.  Use online tools to research comparable jobs in the same geography to determine an appropriate range.  Using a range gives you more wiggle room later for negotiation and acknowledges that there is variation company to company and based on the candidates’ experience.

It seems strange to be researching salary data before your initial screening call but it is critical to be prepared for these questions that are being asked earlier and earlier in the process.  Do your homework so you are prepared with an answer you can substantiate.  If the recruiter pushes back on salary history data consider whether or not this is really a company you want to work for going forward.

What Questions Are Recruiters Asking?

To prepare for interview success, job seekers must anticipate the recruiters’ questions and be prepared to address them.  To help with the preparation process, here’s a list of questions recruiters are currently asking.

  • What are you looking for in your next role?
  • Why do you think you’re a fit for this position?
  • What projects/tasks are you looking for do more of in your next job and what do you hope to do less of?
  • What excites you about ABC Company?
  • Why are you interested in working for ABC Company?
  • What’s your favorite part of your current position?
  • What is your least favorite part of your current position?
  • How would your manager describe you?
  • How would your colleagues describe you?
  • What areas of improvement would your manager mention?
  • Why did you leave your previous company?
  • What motivates you?
  • Tell me about a time you relied on emotional intelligence.
  • What challenges have you helped your company overcome?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • What is your current salary?
  • Wit which other companies are you interviewing?
  • How do you need to be managed to be successful?
  • What do you know about ABC Company?
  • What do you already know about me?

Why Should We Hire You?

Students are often shocked to be asked directly in an interview, “Why should we hire you?”  Whether the question is asked directly or not, every candidate needs to answer that question for every interviewer in the process, if the candidate hopes to succeed.  If you are prepared to answer it directly, you are ready but in case they don’t ask, you can use that preparation in your summary.  You want to be sure the interviewers leave the room with the answer to that question firmly in their mind.

Take this opportunity to demonstrate your fit and your interest.

Skills and Expertise

What does the employer specifically need that you can offer?  How are your skills and expertise uniquely aligned with this position so you could contribute at a different level than other candidates?  Demonstrate that in meeting the specific needs of the employer that you are interested and excited about contributing to the goals of the company and the department in this specific role as a great next step in your career.  In addition to your skills and expertise you bring  motivation and a strong work ethic as well.

Unique Qualifications

If there is something unique about your qualifications be sure to emphasize that.  It is important to be well informed about the company, the department and this specific role in order to sell the on your unique skills.  Of course they are talking to other candidates but what is it about you they can’t find in others?  Do you have experience in their industry, using their software, working with their clients, or other unique perspectives?  Are you willing to share your knowledge of others for the good of the team?  Be sure the interviewers have a clear sense of your unique qualifications.

Solve Problems

Often the need to hire for a specific position is related to solving a business problem or eliminating a pain point.  Do you have a track record of solving problems?  Share some examples.  Are you motivated by the challenge of finding a better way to do something?  How could you specifically assist with this particular problem?

Don’t duck this question if it is asked.  Demonstrate your unique value add.  Be sure to do so even when the question is not asked.