First let me say Happy New Year - the Mayan's had it wrong and it appears we've sailed safely into 2013. I hope everyone had a warm and happy holiday!
In regards to Accepting or Declining a Job Offer... I picked this topic due to recent events. My company has been involved in filling 30+ roles as part of a large client project and during the mad rush to present qualified consultants, schedule dozens of interviews and make multiple offers I've seen and been involved with some very interesting situations pertaining to offers being accepted or declined or accepted and then declined. More on this later.
Let me be the first to say that a Recruiter has the task of keeping the candidate informed throughout the entire interview process. If you have been submitted to a client and you aren't hearing back from your recruiter regularly on the status of your resume.... there is an issue.
That being said, it is the candidate's responsibility to make sure their questions are being answered. You should assume from the beginning of the interview process that you will be offered the role. Not only is the power of positive thinking a great frame of mind to be in, but that frame of mind will also keep you on your toes. On more than one occasion I've had candidates that for all intensive purposes seem really excited about the opportunity they are interviewing for, right up to the offer stage and then they hesitate for days or accept the offer only to call back a day or two later and decline. This reaction not only doesn't bode well for the recruitment firm, it also can get a consultant black-listed from the intended employer. Now you may think "big deal, if I didn't end up wanting the position, I'll never want to work there, so who cares?" What that mindset is missing is the bigger picture. What about the team of people you interviewed with at the client site? What about the Manager that extended the offer? Those people may not always be at that client site and might at some point in the near future be the same person you are interviewing with for another role at another employer. Not to mention how many people they know in the industry that just might call them and say "have you ever heard of so & so? - she is interviewing with us right now and I wonder what you thought of her". The possibility of this happening is very real. I have submitted highly qualified candidates to opportunities and had clients decline interviews stating that they'd interviewed the person at a prior employer and the person accepted and didn't show or accepted and then declined so they refuse to interview them again.
Another important part of the acceptance stage starts with the initial interview. Are you taking notes during the interview? When the client or recruiter discusses: job responsibilities, job title, pay rate, benefits, start dates, length of project, payment terms, travel reimbursement etc are you writing it down? I have had clear discussions with candidates on all of the above only to have them come back at the offer stage and say "what is the rate?" or "when is the start date?" or "how much travel is necessary?". I have it all in my notes - you should have it in yours!
And finally, be OPEN with your recruiter! If you have questions throughout the process ASK! If you are considering their offer but you're on the fence - ASK questions, ask to talk to another consultant that they have on the same client site, ask for an additional interview with the client - ASK ASK ASK. Always make sure you're making an informed decision. While there are many opportunities in our industry, the RIGHT opportunity doesn't necessarily present itself every day, you don't want to be kicking yourself for passing up a great thing. If you need time to consider the offer - request it. There is no harm in saying that you need 24 or 48 hours to make a decision. The worst possible thing you can do is accept the position and then turn around and back out a few days later. Additionally, if you are involved in the interview process and you feel the position isn't for you, remove yourself from the process immediately. Don't continue conversations with the client just to "follow-through" if you have no intention of accepting an offer if one is made. This is a waste of your, your recruiter's and the client's time. Navigating the interview and offer stages can be frustrating and confusing, by taking notes and asking plenty of questions you should find yourself comfortably making informed decisions.
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