Recently, one of my out-of-state clients got pinged from a VP-level hiring manager after she looked at his LinkedIn Profile, In-Mailing him that they talk to further explore opportunities at her fast-growing company in the Silicon Valley. After my client worked out the call logistics they connected and ended up talking for almost one hour during their first call. When the hiring manager asked my client if he would be interested in talking to few more people to further explore the opportunity my client agreed. The hiring manager then sent the job description, and when my client read it he was flattered that he was being considered for a more senior (a director-level) position, which was a promotion from his current role as a program manager. In return, she asked for my client’s résumé to pass it around.
Within a few days my client had talked on the phone to a couple of the hiring-manager’s VP-level colleagues. Those calls were more conversational in tone than they were job interviews. Within a few days after that round the hiring manager called my client and asked if they could make him an offer for that director-level job. My client was surprised that without any on-site interviews he was being considered “offer-worthy,” something unusual for that level of opening. In fact, this is quite unusual for almost any level of opening, even for rock-star candidates; my client was a solid performer with an excellent track record of accomplishments. Such offers can come about, though, when the hiring manager has already worked with the candidate in the past, but such was not the case here.
During this process my client and I were keeping track of this development and he expressed his apprehension about getting a job offer without meeting the team, checking out the place, and knowing more about the job through an in-person exploration, critical for better understanding of the fit, expectations, and the company’s culture. He wondered if he should first ask them for a visit to their facilities, meet the team, and check the place out before the offer. My preference was to get the offer first and then use it to ask for more due diligence before accepting it. Since the company was in a hurry to fill this position there was the possibility that if my client had asked for a visit as a condition for the offer they could go after some other candidate; making this a dicey strategy.
So, my client asked the hiring manager to proceed with the offer, which was given to him orally the next day. It was a substantial offer with a major bump in overall compensation. Even after comparing the cost-of-living from where my client was to that of the Silicon Valley, it was a generous package.
Despite all the positive signs, my client felt uncomfortable accepting the offer because the speed with which it came about and without either party meeting the other in a more meaningful setting. So, my client responded to the offer by suggesting to the hiring manager that he was not comfortable accepting this offer, as impressive as it was, without in-person meeting with the key players and without checking out the place first-hand. Since the offer was already made the hiring manager quickly organized a trip with key people lined up to meet with my client in the next two days. My client then completed the needed due diligence, further exploring the details of the job he was offered, came back, and accepted the offer the next day.
So, what are the lessons from this episode? Here is my list:
1. Always keep your LinkedIn Profile and résumé up-to-date, even when you are not looking for a change. Having a professional headshot as a part of that Profile is also a must if you want others to take it seriously. In setting up your Profile and in your résumé, learn how to showcase your leadership stories when presenting yourself; merely listing transactional bullets that read like job descriptions does not make you that marketable. Learn how to tell your leadership story in a compelling way, both in your Profile and in your résumé.
2. Handle all in-bound calls from your Profile in a professional way as if you are facing an interviewer, even when an in-company recruiter calls you after reading your Profile.
3. Be open to further exploration after you qualify the opportunity and keep things moving.
4. Make an assessment of the company’s need and manage the conversation and its pace on your terms to stay in control of the process. Remember, they approached you first. This permits you to stay in the driver’s seat. In this case there was the possibility that if my client had asked for an on-site interview before the offer was made they may have gone to their #2 candidate. Always protect your position by carefully maneuvering your next step.
5. Do not accept an offer if you feel uncomfortable about not having done prior due diligence. In the case of this client he had to uproot himself from another state with a short notice and go into a much more “risky place.” My client was in his mid career, so taking a risk by moving to the Silicon Valley was not something he found easy to do without mitigating some key risk factors.
6. Show good faith in protecting the company’s requirements (timelines, start-dates, etc.). In this case my client was willing to give the required notice period to his current employer, pack-up, and move within the timeframe the company wanted.
7. Even though you have an offer in hand and you are asking for additional data points to complete your due diligence as a condition of accepting that offer, remember that you are not obligated to accept the offer just because they met your condition. In this case the company agreed to organize a visit for my client to complete the process, but both parties knew that it was not a done deal even when everything checked out.
8. Always use your judgment in making your final decision. Do not feel pressured to accept a hurried offer just because it is a great package, if you otherwise feel uncomfortable about the way it came about.
9. Consult your own trusted advisors and seek their guidance even if you are confident in the way you plan to proceed.
10. Think of a plan B if you cannot liquidate all your risks. In this case of my client this plan would have been to explore if the current employer would offer some consideration to improve my client’s package (title, salary, benefits) to offset the better offer.
Rushed job offers—such as the one cited in this blog—are not common. But, when they do come about learn how best to deal with them to protect your career options.