Receiving Offers and Accepting Employment

Believe it or not, receiving and accepting an offer can be one of the most challenging aspects of a career search.  For many transitioning military officers who have not started the interviewing process, just  receiving an offer seems challenge enough.  However, planning your transition effectively can put you in much better shape for receiving offers and accepting employment.

Initial interviews – Often, for a business leadership position, a first interview is not to determine whether or not you will receive an offer.  If you have not worked with a recruiter who has matched you with an opportunity, a company will generally review résumés and then set up an introductory phone interview.  At Cameron-Brooks, we help match you with opportunities for which you are a fit, so your initial interview is in-person where you will be evaluated for key competencies to determine ability, interest and match with the company.  Once the company has determined that you are a likely candidate, they will bring you to an onsite location to run through a series of interviews.  These follow up interviews are the ones that are used to determine whether the company will give an offer.  From initial interview to offer can take 2 to 6 weeks.

 What an offer represents – When a company decides to give you an offer for a development career position, they have decided that they would like you to be a part of their future.  You have proved to them that your leadership skills and your career goals will help you be a part of their current and continued success.  They will define for you, normally in writing, the job, total compensation and location where they would like you to step into a position of responsibility.  This is not a contract or set of orders.  It is their invitation to you to be part of their team.

 How to receive an offer – Two words – get excited!  It may sound like common sense, but too many officers get caught up in making a decision and forget to celebrate that an offer means they have achieved a significant milestone.  A company has thought long and hard about whether to bring you on to their team.  You’ve worked to prove to them that you are a fit.  When that goal is achieved, it is natural to do a little fist pumping and show appreciation.  How you react when you receive the offer will be watched closely by the company that has chosen to give it to you.  Sometimes candidates who have been working hard to show interest and prove their fit do an about face when they receive an offer, and pull back as if they are being pressed to commit to something.  For a company, it is as if the candidate goes from talking about sunny skies to all of a sudden seeing storm clouds.  After showing your excitement, you can usually ask when they’d like you to get back to them and to whom you should respond.  There is no need to commit immediately, but of course, if you know it is the offer you want, there is nothing wrong with saying yes!

 How to get multiple offers – When a company extends an offer to you, they will put their search for that position on hold until you make your decision.  This means they cannot give you an indefinite amount of time to decide.  Generally, they will give you five to ten days.  If you are hoping to get offers that overlap, you will likely have to start your initial interviews at the same time.  If you have received an offer from a company and then try to start an interviewing process with another company (remember it takes 2 to 5 weeks), you will likely find that the company extending the offer will not be able to wait.  The best way to be able to compare multiple offers is to submit your résumé to companies and conduct interviews at about the same time.

 “Negotiating” an offer – Contrary to what you may hear in some areas, this is not the time to “shoot for the moon.”  In a leadership career, you will earn your promotions, bonuses and opportunities through performance.  Many officers tell us how much they look forward to stepping into an environment where hard work allows them to improve their quality of life.  An offer means that a company is inviting you to join their organization and to break out through great performance.  Your best opportunity to impact your offer is during the interviewing process.  The better you connect, show ability and prove interest, the more the company will see you as a fit and the more they will look to “reward” that performance.

 Declining an offer – If you decide to decline an offer for employment, a company expects you to tell them why.  It is best to be up front and honest with your reasons.  However, telling a company that you don’t want to work in a job because of factors you knew up front is obviously frustrating to them.  If you don’t like the location or the communicated salary range is insufficient, then don’t pursue the offer.  If you have other offers that are a better fit for certain reasons, a company will be disappointed but will understand.  Work hard to keep from burning bridges when you decline an offer.

Accepting employment – When accepting an offer, you want to start your career on the right foot.  Show excitement and accept the offer as soon as you have made your decision.  While it is natural to want to consider an offer, sitting on such an important process for too long is frustrating and may result in a company rescinding the offer.  Give the company reasons why you are accepting the offer and be ready to discuss a specific start date.  If there is time between accepting the offer and the start date, discuss staying in touch and any initiative you can take to prepare for starting your career.  Make sure you know exactly where and when you will start and how you can get key logistics information.  There will be some paperwork.  Have a great attitude about it and handle it efficiently and effectively.  Make it a priority since it is the first “work” you’ll do for the company after having accepted their offer.

Be ethical – One of the aspects that business appreciates about military officers is their sense of professionalism.  When you accept an offer, a company would love to get you started right away but will likely be considerate and give you some time for your transition.  The company considers the offer a commitment to you that they will be a part of your career.  To them, your acceptance means that they have filled a critical position.  Some books may suggest that you play your cards closely after accepting an offer and to “look out for #1”.  If you’ve done an effective search, you should only be ready to accept an offer when you are sure that you are going to step into that opportunity.  Now that you have proven you are a “marketable” leader, you may find other companies or people that try to entice you away.  If you use the time period after accepting an offer to continue your search or try to leverage your way into another opportunity, you are deceiving the company whose offer you have accepted.  If you want to keep looking, be ethical and make them aware of that fact.

 First impressions – You will make a number of first impressions in the hiring process.  From the résumé through the first interview, to the first onsite visit and the first day on the job, you are under a microscope.  The company that has brought you in has done so because they are confident you are a great fit to help them be successful.  It is natural for them to want to watch closely as you “get to work”.  They want to help you be successful and take care of any issues that result from the new “relationship” while it is being established.  Your role is to have a great attitude, learn as much as possible and make a positive impact where ever possible. 

Scott LePage