I got a new job……I think!

Ensure you have a contract in hand and a start date before celebrating a new job, warns Barry Whelan



12 March 2012

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For someone seeking employment, there is no better call to take than hearing those magical words, “We would like to offer you the job”. When you get a call like that the impulse is to shout the news from the rooftops, tell your boss good luck, hand in your notice and celebrate your new job with your friends and family.
But what happens when your contract doesn’t arrive or a week goes by and there’s no word? You don’t want to bother your new employers, but you’re starting to get anxious. Was your celebration a little premature?
In this economy, things are up and down like a yo-yo, with strange and untraditional job situations becoming more and more common. You can get an oral offer, then never hear back from a potential employer or just as bad, you can get offered a position and find that when you start it is a completely different role. Worse still, wage budgets are based on sales, so if sales drop the position could end up being pulled, right at the end of the recruitment process. You are just happy to be offered a job and perhaps don’t seek clarity. Unfortunately clarity and confirmation are really important.
Here is some advice to make sure you don’t run into problems if you’re at the end of an ambiguous job offer.

First things first!

Firstly, your job search is never over until your offer is in your hand. You may go for multiple interviews and hear the role is as good as yours but until you have that officially in writing, keep your options open. A position can disappear through no fault of your own. It is important that you keep on searching to the very final moments; having a few irons in the fire will make you a more desirable candidate and give you better scope to negotiate.

Get confirmation

Clarity and confirmation are king in the job offer situation. You get the call, the job is yours, but before you hand in your notice, wait for your contract to arrive and read it. Don’t leave a meeting where you get a verbal offer without solidifying the details. What is the job title? What is the remuneration? How long is the probation? What are the general terms? Cover all the details and get them in writing before jumping in. Make sure you have an official offer letter and that it is signed, sealed and delivered before pulling the trigger on either your current employment or job seeking.

Call them!

Don’t be afraid to call them. HR teams are under pressure as well. This part of most businesses has been rationalised considerably and you might find that follow up hasn’t taken place, just because someone couldn’t find the time to get round to it. A gentle reminder in this case will do no harm. If going through an agency, then simply follow up with them and don’t wait for them to chase you. Following up also demonstrates a real interest in a role and will help push the process along. If you don’t hear back between seven to 10 days, it is time to follow up. Even writing to say thank you for the offer, might be enough to trigger the HR executive into action. Let them know you are preparing yourself for the start date. It’s not a bad idea to ask if you will receive a formal offer via email or by post.
If after multiple attempts you’re still hitting a brick wall, it may be a sign that it’s time to move on. If you have interviewed with an employer and have checked in with them at least twice within three weeks and have still not received a formal job offer or any sign of moving forward in the process, things may have gone pear shaped.

Be open to change

You should be open to changes. Organisations today are focused on fitting the person to the task, which means the job description is either a starting point for work or something that serves as little more than a basis for recruiting. In the old world of work, employees conformed to the needs of a distinct job; in today’s world of work, employees have to conform to the needs of a task or project.
That’s not to say that if you’re unsure about the drastic change you can’t speak up. Just do it in a way that shows you’re a team player and happy to pitch in where needed, but make sure you have a complete understanding of the expectations and goals for the position. 


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