Don’t Get Stuck In “Offer Letter Limbo”
Recently we concluded the placement of a Senior Sales Representative for a publicly traded company. The role was ripe with potential as the company products were being widely embraced by current and new customers. The recruiting process went smoothly as the candidate progressed through several rounds of face to face interviews with company executives.
At the conclusion of the final interview, our candidate was pulled aside by his prospective boss, the Vice President of Sales. Substantive conversation took place as the candidate and prospective employer agreed upon the terms of a potential offer. The candidate and prospective employer spent approximately 30 minutes discussing in detail the offer terms: base compensation, commission schedule, profit sharing and bonuses, insurance coverage, car allowance, expense account and other related matters. At the end of the conversation, the candidate and the prospective employer shook hands to “seal the deal”. The VP of Sales told him that their HR Director would follow up with him in the next “few days” with an “official offer letter”.
Four business days later, the candidate called me. I could tell this normally cool and collected sales professional was a bit flustered. He had not heard anything from the company or their respective HR Director. What should he do? Should he call directly? Was that making him look too eager? Was the deal off? Our candidate was now in “Offer Letter Limbo”. Offer Letter Limbo occurs when the candidate waits and waits for a company to take the action of creating and sending him a formal offer letter of employment. This waiting period can be avoided by following a few simple steps:
1. If you do not sense continuity, create it on your own. Smaller and even medium sized companies sometimes suffer from a lack of continuity in the hiring process. After your interview and especially one like our candidate experienced where an actual verbal offer has been made, be certain to follow up the next day with written communication to the participants. If a verbal offer has been made, be certain to reconfirm the terms and parameters of the offer in writing to the person extending the offer. Make certain that your communication reflects your commitment and desire. Set a specific time period in which you anticipate hearing from them back in writing. Remove any possible obstacles to communicating with you by giving the employer various methods to reach you directly and conveniently.
2. If you have not done so already, open a channel of communication with the HR department. Make an inquiry with your prospective boss as to who will be handling or coordinating the creation of an offer letter. Follow up, preferably via telephone, to reconfirm your interest in working for the company and your anticipation in receiving the formal offer letter. Knowing and understanding that HR is constantly dealing with multiple job candidates for multiple departments, reconfirm your contact information and timeline directly with the HR representative.
3. Never stop your job search. Our candidate was fortunate to experience only a significant delay (2 weeks) in receiving his offer letter. As a candidate, you do maintain negotiating leverage against a verbal offer in that you will continue your search and interviews until you surface a complete offer (verbal and written). This leverage can assist you in applying negotiating pressure to get the letter completed and ready for your acceptance if it is properly framed. The employer should assume that as a quality candidate you do have options. These options may materialize faster if they do not act in turning their verbal offer into a formal written offer. Thus, they stand the chance of losing your services.
“Offer Letter Limbo” can be a helpless and frustrating place. Careful and planned steps at this critical stage of the interview process will assist you in reaching the finish line.
William Werksman is a professional recruiter and frequent columnist to job boards focusing on pertinent recruiting and human resources issues from both the candidate’s and employer’s perspective. His firm, Resource Partners LLC, is recognized as the leading source of “specialized and executive talent” in the Casino and Gaming industry. He manages a select staff of dedicated professional recruiters out of their Las Vegas, Nevada headquarters. He can be reached at email@example.com.