7 - Handling offers/rejections

Authors: Stefano Ivancich

What does “offer” actually mean?

When people say “I received a lot of offers”, they actually mean that a lot of recruiters (sourcers) contacted them on LinkedIn.
Verbal/email offers from recruiters after you passed the interviews are worthless.
If you don’t have a real contract that you can sign, you DO NOT have an offer in your hand.
But, sometimes companies give you a 1 page PDF with offer information, here you can be more sure.

Offer Deadlines and Extensions

When companies give you an offer, there’s almost always a deadline attached to it. Usually, these deadlines are 1-4 weeks. If you’re still interviewing with other companies, you can ask for an extension. They usually try to accommodate this, if possible.
If a recruiter doesn’t give you more time to decide it’s usually a red flag, especially for smaller companies.

Declining the Offer

Even if you aren’t interested in working for this company right now, you might be interested in working for it in a few years. Or, the HR might one day move to another company.
Decline the offer on good terms and keep a line of communication open.
Declining is fine but if you accept it and then decline, they will probably put you on a blacklist.
Provide a reason that is non-offensive and inarguable. For example

  • Thank you so much for the offer, unfortunately I’ve decided I prefer to work in a startup at this moment of my career. Thank you so much for your consideration and we’ll be in touch in the future.

They won’t put you on a blacklist for rejecting an offer, for most large companies, it doesn’t matter. The bureaucracy has no memory other than what is documented. Most of the time there is no blacklist, unless you did something horribly during the hiring. Turning down an offer for a better one isn’t that.
But for smaller companies, or where you’re applying directly to a hiring manager (instead of a recruiting org), the decision will be more variable. It’s important to turn down the offer without ruffling feathers, as much as possible.

How to handle a Rejection

They cannot change idea, so don’t try to fight. Be gentle and respectful.
When you get rejected they probably put you on a “freeze” for 6-12 months in which you cannot reapply.
Thank your recruiter for his time, explain that you’re disappointed but that you understand their position, and ask when you can reapply to the company.
Don’t ask why you didn’t pass (they can’t tell you legally), but instead ask:

  • Is there anything you’d suggest I work on for next time?
  • What areas would you suggest that I improve in the future?
  • What areas of my resume would you say I need to practice more to re-apply in the future and be more successful?
  • Can I see the debrief deck?” (maybe this is too pushy, be careful)

Example rejection:

  • Thanks [recruiter name] for your time, I think the company is great. People I have talked to have been super friendly and very smart. I hope we we’ll be in touch in the future In the meantime,given the interviews result, there is anything you would suggest me to improve? Or, what areas of my resume would you say I need to practice more to re-apply in the future?
    Thank you