Wednesday, 24 October 2012

A Job Offer's Not Real Unless It's On Paper

I hummed and hawed about writing this post.  Not because the information isn't important, but because I didn't want to "out" myself to my employer as a casual job seeker.  So I waited, and I waited, and now the time has come.

Last spring I was approached by a headhunter for a position within their own recruiting firm.  I politely declined.  I have zero interest in leaving my current role to work for a competitor.  I work for a great company and I do not wish to compete with them.  That same recruiter mentioned another role that I might be interested in - one with an online staffing services company (that's all I'm going to say about them).

I was intrigued and agreed to take it to the next step.  2 more phone interviews and a face to face meeting later I was offered the position!  I was so excited!  The base pay was a substantial increase over my current rate, plus there was commissions and a car allowance and other benefits of working for large company.  This was the end of June.  A week later and I still hadn't seen a formal offer.  I called the recruiter, he said he was "on it".  Then another week went by, then another.  Finally, 4 weeks later, I broke the recruiter protocol and e-mail my new would-be boss and asked him what's up.

A month after receiving the verbal offer, they rescinded it.  Not because they didn't want to hire me, but because the corporate office had put on a temporary hiring freeze.  Thank goodness I'm a smart cookie, I knew to wait to receive the formal offer before giving notice at my current job.

So that was this summer, now things have taken an interesting twist.  I was in initial talks with a different company to join their team.  I was to meet the Director at 1pm for coffee.  At 11 am the same day, this first company calls me to say the position is back on and am I interested.  "Sure" I said.  After all, it is a good opportunity and I had no additional offers. At my coffee meeting I got a second offer.

Yes, I did verbally accept both.  Could that be considered "douchy"?  Yes, but given my own, personal experience can you blame me?  Company #2 followed up the next business day with the written offer.  And, after much deliberation, I accepted.

So now more than a week has passed from my initial conversations.  I bit the bullet and called the recruiter for Company #1 to tell him that I had accepted another offer.  How did he take it?  Not well.  He's mad, very mad.  He said that I should have told him about the other offer so he could have negotiated a better deal for me.  He doesn't understand that it wasn't about the money.  His last e-mail to me bordered on being un-professional so I didn't respond.

I've worked in the recruiting industry for 10 years and I understand better than anyone else what this means for him.  It means that he won't get paid a fee.  I get that it sucks to be him right now.  But I know that he needs to learn that this stuff happens.  He hasn't lost the order from the first company, just the candidate.  He will still have an opportunity to earn his fee.

I've most likely burned a couple of bridges, and I always endeavour to act professional at all times, however, when it comes to one's career, you have to put yourself first.

Is there a lesson here?  Maybe, maybe not, maybe there are a few:

  • Always wait to receive the written job offer before you quit your current job
  • Communicate!  Never leave a candidate waiting for more than a day or two when an offer's on the line
  • As a candidate, be honest with your recruiter (technically I was since I didn't have any other offers on the table when they called)
  • As a recruiter, have a thick skin, you will need it.  This is a tough industry.

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