Readers often want to know “Why didn’t I get the job offer?” Although I wish with all my heart I had an accurate crystal ball to see exactly what happened and what the person needs to do next time to get the offer, that’s a tough question to answer. Many factors on both sides of the interview desk play an important role. And in some cases it can come down to little more than a feeling – even if you do all the right things (listen carefully, do your best to be real, stay in the moment, etc.) sometimes it’s just a matter of mutual chemistry and NOT a reflection on who you are as a person or how much you have to offer an employer.
But recently, I’ve been seeing a different type of question: I got a job offer, but why isn’t it the job offer I want? Deciding whether or not to take an offer can be excruciating. Here are some of the ways your offer can leave you wondering what to do.
Are you a good offer or a bad offer?
While I know most of you are still caught in the waiting game and hungry for any job offer at all, for those of you in the following situations a whole new misery begins:
- Timing problems – You get an offer for a job you’re less interested in before your preferred job offer comes through – assuming it ever does come through. How do you handle a poorly-timed offer without leaving yourself without any job at all?
- An offer without commitment – You get an offer, but it’s not what you had hoped for. Instead of coming through with the whole package, they want to try before they buy (more and more common nowadays) and suggest a consulting stint first so they can see if there’s a fit. (Except when you hear this, you have the fit!)
- A different job completely - You interview for one job, but they decide you aren’t qualified for that one. Still, you made a good impression on them and they offer you a lower level job (at lower level salary of course.) Is it bait and switch or is it opportunity knocking?
- Salary, salary, salary - They love you and tell you how much they want you to be part of their team, but they come to you with an offer so low your eyeballs freeze up in disbelief.
- Bait and switch for real – You get the offer for the job you want, but they decide to change the scope of your responsibilities, adding some things you were not counting on doing.
- Simultaneous offers – Within a few days of each other, you get two offers, but neither of them is your dream job. How do you compare them? Which one will be best for you in the long run?
- Your boss counters - You get a good job offer and when you tell your current boss, s/he starts looking for a way to keep you. How do you decide whether to stay or go? Is there a point when it’s too late no matter how good the counter offer is?
Of course there’s no way I can tell you what to do or how to decide which if any offer to accept, but here are a few articles I hope will help with your decision:
Here’s a Q & A with Megan, who found herself in the position of having an offer in hand but wanting the one in the bush. In my answer, I tell her about the time I had a similar choice to make – and how it turned out in a way I never expected. So often we get caught up in an idea of something, but there can be so many unknown factors at play when it comes to making life decisions like accepting a job. When it comes right down to it, all you can do is make your best guess and then roll with it.
In this article, I discuss different ways of looking at an offer which may help you think through whether to accept a job or not. Sometimes, the job you get offered instead of the job you wanted can open up doors you never imagined, even at a lower level. This is a time to put ego aside and think strategically. If it’s really a crummy job that’s one thing. But please…before deciding, think about any new skills you might learn, connections you may make, areas of the business you might get to deal with (even tangentially).
Sometimes a job can be an interim step to a new direction you’ll enjoy even more. So if the offer isn’t quite what you expected, take a deep breath and consider your entire career and not just a moment in time. Then again…if you’re sure the offer stinks and holds no possibilities for you to creatively carve new paths for yourself, don’t be afraid to let it go if at all possible.
Some more ways to look at a job and determine if it’s right for you. This can be just as useful when thinking about jobs to apply for or even new career paths. Take a look at the comments too. I have the smartest readers!
In case you’re interested, this post offers tips from John, who after a long, drawn out interview process was asked to come in as a consultant first and see how it worked out. Although he was tired of being strung along (or so it felt) and wanted an offer NOW, he made a smart move and let them try before they buy. And he wound up getting an offer!
Having done it many times myself, starting as a consultant or free-lancer can open up all kinds of possibilities. My suggestion is don’t wait for them to bring it up. If they seem interested but hesitant, think about making your own offer – propose a “try before you buy” arrangement as a way of getting your foot in the door.
We should all be so lucky, huh? Some thoughts on what to do if you get an offer and your current employer wants to get into the bidding.
I’m including this because it may help give you some perspective on why you might not have gotten the offer you want – or any offer at all.
Hope that helps you with your decision. And since some of you are still in job search mode, I want to close with an excerpt from that last post:
An interview is never over until it’s over
Even if you get the feeling the interview is going south or was never a real interview to begin with, you still want to give your strongest, most naturally likable interview no matter what. Don’t decide to reject them before they reject you.
Why? Because there may be someone you meet during the process who remembers you for another time. In fact, I just recommended someone I met a year ago who was wrong for that job but may be exactly right for the position they’re looking to fill now. It always pays to turn on your best interview charm until you are out the door – and out of the building. Remember…each person you meet counts. Even impressions made on receptionists or doormen matter!
Whether it’s a job interview or anything else – all you can do is your best
If you don’t get the job, it just wasn’t meant to be – at least not this time. Use each rejection as a chance to redouble your determination to get the next one. Or the one after that. Your job is coming.
~ Ronnie Ann