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How To Blow An Imminent Job Offer

When you are a finalist for a job, that’s great but you still need to actually get that offer. Here are 3 minefields to avoid.

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Too many candidates think that having already completed multiple interviews, they are a shoo-in. for the job. Actually, so many candidates blow it in the final stretch that this is a time to up your game, not get complacent. Here are 3 common reasons that an imminent offer falls through in the late stages of an interview process and what to do instead:

Employers sense hesitation like sharks sense blood in the water

I always remind my clients that their end goal with any employer is a job offer, not the job itself. The job itself may be something you ultimately don’t want – upon further research it’s not an exact fit or you get something even better elsewhere or you decide to stay where you are. But you always want the job offer – the offer gives you confidence, it provides urgency to expedite your interviews elsewhere, it provides leverage to increase other offers. Yet, many candidates go into the final stages of interviews focusing on whether they want the job itself and in this way revealing hesitation. Employers sense hesitation and will end the candidacy (like sharks sensing blood in the water go in for the kill). Of course, you want to probe and do your due diligence on whether this company, role, and career step is right for you but you want to do it without wavering on your exuberance for the job. You 100% want this employer to give you an offer, even if you’re not 100% sure you will accept the job.

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Job search is a marathon – don’t hit the wall

The job search is an exhausting test of physical, mental and emotional endurance. Preparing and researching for interviews, juggling your search with your existing responsibilities, maintaining your composure and positive attitude during countless networking meetings – all of this takes its toll. After multiple rounds with multiple companies, you just want it all to be OVER. Your stamina wanes, and this comes across to employers as low energy, lack of interest, or lack of ambition. Be prepared to hit the wall during your job search marathon and move past it. Build in refreshment breaks over the course of your search. Have that upbeat friend on speed dial for the night before big events. Remind yourself that the final rounds of interviews are for a final push, not a time to let your guard down.

Who are you again? Are you a candidate for this search?

Regardless of how many interview rounds you have passed and how good you feel and even if your prospective boss is talking as if you’re already working there, there are surely other people in the running. Yes, I’ve recruited for searches where the hiring manager falls in love with one candidate and gives everyone short shrift, but even in these cases, other people are being interviewed. When other people come into the mix, their presence changes your chances. At the very least, the focus is taken off of you and your interview performance however terrific it might have been becomes more distant in the employer’s mind. You must stay in the forefront of your prospective employer’s attention. Stay in touch. Don’t just check on status of the search -- that’s nagging. Share insights into your area of expertise – this provides a check-in that is also a reminder of how much you know and can contribute. Give the company time to make a decision, but stay close in the meantime.

The final stages of the hiring process can be the most difficult time. Your hopes are higher, so any setback will sting more. Be vigilant and make sure you stay front of mind with your prospective employer. Pace yourself and make sure you sustain energy throughout the entire process. Go after the offer 100% so you show no hesitation, even if there may still be questions about the job itself. Finally, let the fact that you made it this far increase your confidence – you’re clearly doing something right. If you don’t get the offer, it doesn’t necessarily mean you did something wrong – sometimes the headcount goes away, the job changes, or someone internal swoops in and takes the spot away. Focus on what you can control, including the points above and including adding new leads to your search even as you move ahead with other companies.

Caroline Ceniza-Levine is a career expert with SixFigureStart®. She is a former recruiter in management consulting, financial services, media, technology, and pharma/ biotech.

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