The Strange Case of the Disappearing Job Offer

disappearing actAfter weeks of tweaking resumes, scouring job boards, filling out applications, sitting through interviews, and struggling with persistent worry, it feels like a major life victory to finally receive news of a job offer. It is a victory for your career and your security. But what if your congratulatory behavior and celebrating turns out to be premature? What happens when days pass without any further communication from your supposed new employer?

Though it may sound strange, given the fragile state of the current economy, businesses are often finding themselves in nontraditional hiring situations where a job may be filled but then recognized as unnecessary and then closed, or the job that you accept may be totally different from the one for which you applied. Though you may not want to come off as pushy, if you find yourself in this type of awkward hiring situation you deserve some clarity. It is important to take a moment to consider your potential actions, should these circumstances arise, so that you avoid being penalized for simply being accepted for a new position.

No matter how certain you are about the chances of you being hired for a particular job, no matter what you hear from hiring managers during your interviews, never assume you have the job until you receive an official job offer. It is crucial for you to keep your job options open and not close off other potential employment opportunities until a job offer is in hand. As professional career coach Roy Cohen, author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide, states, “…it is essential that you continue to network and job search until the very final moments. Having multiple irons in the fire will also make you a lot more desirable and enhance the potential to negotiate in a meaningful way.”

Even if you have received a verbal job offer from a hiring manager, don’t rush to resign from your current position until you have the official offer letter and a solid grasp of the details of the offer. Career and lifestyle expert Sandra Lamb suggests, “Say, ‘Just to be clear here, I understand you are offering me the position of X, with a salary of Y, to start Z.’ Cover all the details and get them in writing. Absent [of] this, write your own letter of employment and cover all these items, and ask for a signature.”

It is not at all uncommon for a company to take days or even weeks to produce official paperwork for your job offer. However, this does not discount the appropriateness of periodically checking in on the process. Not only might your diligence help speed up the process, but it can also demonstrate your continuing desire to work for the company. In the worst case, if after several attempts you are continuously being stonewalled, it may be time to focus your job hunting efforts elsewhere.

Finally, going into a new job, it can almost be assumed that your actual position is probably not the exact same as the one for which you applied. Despite this being case, you should still feel free to express your opinion about the changes and ensure that you understand the expectations and responsibilities of your position. Just be sure to frame your concerns in a way that reflects your commitment to being a flexible team player.

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Joshua Bjerke
Joshua Bjerke, from Savannah, Georgia, focuses on articles involving the labor force, economy, and HR topics including new technology and workplace news. Joshua has a B.A. in Political Science with a Minor in International Studies and is currently pursuing his M.A. in International Security.