The Worst Possible Thing to do After Receiving a Job Offer

It doesn’t happen very often but every once in a while I present a candidate with a company’s job offer and ask them to think about it and write down a list of questions and concerns and set up a time to talk the following morning or preferably after the weekend on a Monday. Then it happens. They vanish. I can’t get a hold of them by phone, email, or text. They have become completely unresponsive. Recruiters call this “going dark.”

This is exactly the wrong time for this type of behavior. The hiring company has a job to fill. They have spent a lot of time and effort going through the entire interviewing process and they have chosen you. Now they want to close the deal and get back to other issues.

You are no longer one of ten or even one of three candidates. You are – the one. Since you are no longer part of a crowded field, awareness of your communications skills has now become amplified. Yes, you may have a difficult decision to make. Yes, there may still be a few things to be worked out. But, if simple communication suddenly breaks down, the company has every reason to think that you will carry that same behavior into their workplace – and they don’t want it (see the Communication Manifesto).

More than once, I’ve seen a company pull a job offer because, at the eleventh hour, the candidate plunged into a hidey hole. By the way, if you’ve been a poor communicator throughout the process, your recruiter may have been able to cover for you while you were one of many. He can’t really cover very much for you now. The hiring company knows that the recruiter is on top of things. They know that the recruiter didn’t suddenly go all lackadaisical just at the end of the project. The company knows that the problem is you.

Candidates typically go dark for one of three reasons:

  • The candidate needs more time to make a decision. This shouldn’t be a problem. Your recruiter can almost always talk to the hiring company and buy you a couple of extra days. What he can’t do is explain away the reasons you are unresponsive to phone calls and emails.
  • There are some problems with the job offer. This is not unique. It happens most of the time. A strong recruiter is highly skilled at bridging the gap and bringing parties together. Your recruiter will ask you to go home and write down any questions or concerns you may have with the offer. It’s best to throw everything into the pot at once for one grand negotiation, rather than to keep adding items and going back and forth and back and forth. Your recruiter will go over the items with you and then talk to the company and try to address them.

In a negotiation, it’s unlikely that either party will get everything that they want. Through the process, your recruiter will have learned your priorities and the company’s. He will seek to manage expectations on both sides and put together the best possible offer that he can get that everyone is pretty happy with. Then you get to make a decision based on the company’s best possible offer. At the end of the day, you are in complete control.

  • The candidate just really doesn’t want the job. Maybe you don’t even really know why. Maybe its intangible, a gut feeling. That’s fine. Tell your recruiter. In fact, the sooner the better. Your recruiter will ask you a few questions to make sure you don’t have misconceptions about the job or the company. If there seems to be a misunderstanding, he will try to get you the information that you need to clear it up. Maybe he can, and maybe he can’t. Or maybe there aren’t any misconceptions and you just don’t feel comfortable moving forward. In the end, you are still in control. You still get to make a decision. If you really just don’t want the job under any circumstances – just tell your recruiter. Cut to the chase. You can go back to work and he can go back to trying to fill his client’s job opening.

I think a lot of going dark stems from a candidate’s fear that a recruiter is going to try to “sell them.” The reality is that a good recruiter probably hasn’t been selling too hard through the entire process. He knows he can’t make you do something you don’t want to do. If he sells too hard, there is a much greater chance that you will go through the process and then at the end – turn the job down. Recruiters hate job offer turndowns. When a job offer gets turned down, clients tend to blame the recruiter for not doing their homework. If you’re really not interested a good recruiter will want to nip it in the bud as early as possible.

Going dark helps no one and especially not you. The hiring company thinks you flaked out and won’t want to consider you again. The recruiter understands that everyone has to do what’s best for themselves – he’s certainly experienced job offer turndowns before. But if you go dark, it’s unlikely that he would ever want to work with you again. I wouldn’t. For the candidate? Yes, changing jobs can be stressful. Yes, there may have to be some negotiations. But business is often stressful and there are always all sorts of negotiations. By hiding, a company will think that’s how you’ll react in the workplace – their workplace. Companies have been known to rescind job offers due to sluggish candidate communications during the job offer/negotiation phase. Don’t let that happen to you. Face questions and concerns head on. Your recruiter will help you. At the end of the day you still get to choose.

P.S: If you happen to be someone who has decided “I can’t talk during the day” – during the job offer negotiation phase, you’ve got to just stop it. There is a lot of immediate exchange necessary for a negotiation process to work. If you’re causing every question on every issue to take 24 to 48 hours to be resolved, you’re going to drive everyone involved crazy. Companies don’t want to add people who are going to drive them crazy.  You have a mobile phone. One of its key features is that it’s mobile. You can walk down the hall to take or make a call. Companies want to hire people who can get things done and get them done efficiently. The job offer/negotiations phase is the time to show that you are one of those.

©Tom Keoughan 2016