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Jan 20, 2010

The Wicked Recruiter: Waiting for the offer... and waiting, and waiting

Tina Duccini, the Wicked Recruiter

Dear Wicked Recruiter:
What does it mean when you have completed all interviews with a company, the recruiter has told you that an offer is in the works, but it's been three weeks and still no offer? Do you keep following up or just wait? Or do you just move on?

Generally, there is no good excuse for a recruiter not contacting you or letting you know what is going on with an offer if one is in the works.

Sometimes this is a difficult situation- such as:
a. the req just got frozen due to budget shenanigans, hiring freeze, impending termination/resignation of the hiring manager, or upcoming layoff that most people don't know about yet.

b. The hiring manager/team believes they can proceed with a hire and have interviewed candidates and selected one for offer and did not follow the company's required administrative steps in order to complete the hire or get a req approved.

c. Issues with compensation as in paying a market rate for a position when current team members may be underpaid and it gets held up with HR/Finance/Hiring Manager.

It is actually appalling how many hiring managers are unaware of what talent really costs, and sometimes when people have been in a company for quite some time their comp has not kept pace with the market and the first time they need to hire someone making more than themselves it takes them by surprise and they needlessly hold up offers lobbying their own bosses to raise their pay if they have to hire someone making more than themselves.

d. They have another candidate they are interested in and are waiting for them to complete the interview process.

No matter what the scenario- you have a recruiter who lacks competence. Basic competence for their job requires them to prepare you for all steps, timeframes, and set expectations in the hiring and offer process. The thing is... especially if you have a clusterph@%k of a process, a recruiter NEEDS to let a candidate know what it is like and WHY, because at the end of the day, a company needs their employees to understand what it will take to be successful working there.

Take this as a sign of what you can expect when working for this company. For some reason, the most important step for any company- recruiting talent - is something these guys think they can drop the ball on and no harm, no foul.  Do you really want to be on this team? If you choose to join them anyway, be aware that this is just an indication of their value for communication, and execution that is the "norm" in this company. Always look closely at the recruitment process and be aware that everything you see then, you will see in other ways elsewhere in the company. No company or recruitment process is perfect... but even in the clusterph@%s, it is worthwhile if you feel you are on the right team with partners that know a thing or two about how to navigate it succcessfully.

So do you follow up or move on? It depends. It really depends on your specific circumstances and reasons for considering the position. Regardless of the reasons for the delay, you have a bad recruiter, so don't expect that the recruiter will suddenly turn into a professional worthy of their title from any healthy way you might confront the situation.

However, even though none of us are perfect and I have underwhelmed myself more than a time or two..., the candidate is the most important person in the hiring process and it is perfectly acceptable for you to remind my kind of that fact, even if (and especially if) it is me underperforming.

Regardless of whether you want the job still or not, perhaps for the sake of being able to call a spade a spade when you are undoubtably being treated rudely, perhaps reach out to the recruiter something like:

Dear Recruiter,
Last time we spoke on xxxx date you indicated my interviews were complete and you were putting together a formal offer on behalf of xxxx company. It has been three weeks without contact and I am feeling confused as this rose by any other name smells like you hope I will go away. Am I reading this situation correctly, or is there another snag in the process you would like to share with me?
A disenchanted former candidate

It might not change the outcome of the situation, but it might make you feel better.

I think it is fair enough to send such a message whether you want the job or not. If you can be funny while delivering up a warm plate of shame that would be ideal. I have always appreciated it when a good natured candidate pointed out my lack of grace in a way that didn't leave me humming a duet with a dial tone when I called to beg forgiveness for my insufferable rudeness.

Granted, I never went three weeks after informing a candidate of an offer without contact.

After three weeks it is all about self respect, and even though sometimes even a great recruiter can drop the ball, this sort of thing deserves to be called out.

I would refrain from berating any recruiter in writing as the Internet never forgets and you don't want that sort of thing following you around. There is always a way to tell the truth without it making you look all afool. You don't want even a stupid company to congratulate themselves on NOT hiring you.

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