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Stalled Job Offer

by Clark

I'm a computer systems engineer specializing in banking and am in the process of migrating to South Africa. I came over here for a month with the aim of securing work and long term accommodation. I've received a lot of interest from the banking/finance sector and went to interviews with a few large companies. One of them has stated that they want to hire me and are working on putting the offer together. I'm also keen to join their team and would love to work with them.

Only stumbling block seems to be that they need to get approvals from higher management, etc in order to get sign-off on salary and creating a new position for me. They advised that this is essentially a new role they would be creating but are keen to get my skills and experience on board.

So in short, everything sounds great and all the people I have interviewed with and discussed the role with at the company seem very interested and have stated they WILL be making an offer.

When I followed up at the end of last week they advised they are still working on it and that it is taking longer than expected to get the necessary sign-offs and that hopefully by Monday (this week) they would be in touch with an offer.

By Tuesday I still hadn't heard anything so I called the same person (who will effectively be my line manager) to follow up and they advised that the approval was going up to higher management on Tuesday but that they didn't expect a negative response and that all should go well and hopefully by Wed they would be in touch with something formal. They did also say they would contact me as soon as there is any news.

It is now Thurs and I haven't heard anything back.

I'm leaving next Tue and am under serious time pressure as I also need to secure accommodation here but am hesitant to do so without the actual offer in front of me. I also don't want to come across as desperate so am hesitant to follow-up again.

Any ideas as to what the best approach from here on out might be?

Mike comments:

Your situation is very typical for companies that jump the gun on interviewing people for a job that hasn't been officially approved yet. I suspect there is politics involved.

Here is the typical scenario.

Middle level managers make the case to senior management that they need to create a new position for whatever reasons. Senior management doesn't say no, but unless business is exploding or they're at risk of losing business, they prefer to hold off as long as possible. However, if the right person comes along, they might be persuaded to approve a requisition. The active word here is "might" approve it.

The other typical "no pre-approved requisition" scenario is, the president or VP who has the ultimate authority to sign off on job requisitions is unpredictable and prone to change his/her mind. So middle management doesn't want to invest 60-90 days into interviewing lots of candidates only to have the president issue a hiring freeze because of rising oil prices or something else he/she is nervous about.

So, to avoid this, middle management quietly interviews candidates like yourself. When they find the ideal candidate, they go up the mountain to lobby for the requisition with the ideal candidate in hand.

In many cases it's easier to get the boss to agree when they tell them how you're going to solve their problem and you're available right now. Once the executive signs off, they immediately extend the offer before the executive changes his/her mind. I could share with you a couple of other scenarios, but you get the point.

Bottom line for you is you really don't have anything yet.

I've seen the requisition approval process take anywhere from 30-60 days...and sometimes it gets turned down. The reason it takes so long is because when it gets to the highest level, who is going to push the president to hurry up and sign the darn thing?! Your job requisition may be far down his/her priority list. Also, s/he may be traveling or in the middle of a big project.

Here is what I recommend you do:

Don't call them anymore. They know you're anxious about the job. If you don't call them any more, they may worry they're losing you. This will be pressure enough for them to shake the tree on their end. Calling them more could actually add to their stress and annoy them.

Silence is your best weapon right now.

Since you're already committed to moving to South Africa, go ahead and firm up your housing options, unless you're going to stay in Canada if you don't get this job. Also, keep job hunting so you don't lose valuable time should you get disappointing news from this bank.

I know this is all very frustrating...and annoying...but there is nothing more for you to do but wait. If another week drags by without hearing from them, you might want to consider calling them one last time to touch base. If they still give you the run around, just thank them and don't call back again; then, really accelerate your job search.

If they finally call you 2 weeks later, great, make your decision. If you never hear from them again, great, you have 2-3 other good jobs in the works.

Hope this helps a little. Let me know how it works out.

Mike Petras

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