It may seem strange, but in my career, some of the most unprofessional behavior I have witnessed from a candidate has been at/post job offer. You would think that would be far from the case, as a job offer is usually the culmination of multiple conversations and a determination that you would be a good fit for the company. Furthermore, you would expect the Job Seeker to still be on his/her best behavior right to the start date (and beyond).
It is almost as if some candidates let their “interview guard” down once the offer is delivered, and the real person starts to come out. Of course, in a perfect world, a person will show up as they always do and there would be no offer “surprises”. For the sake of this article, I am going to assume you are not really a “jerk” and just need some guidance regarding professional behavior during the offer and notice stage.
Let’s take a moment and frame out what I am NOT referring to when we focus on unprofessional behavior. I am NOT referencing when you delay giving an answer right away because you are thinking about it or wish to speak to your family. As long as you are working within the deadline for a signed approval that is given to you, then you are doing nothing wrong by asking for a little time to decide. I am also not referring to when a candidate waits for all testing to be completed in order to give notice. To me, it is an acceptable practice for those wanting everything settled before communicating their resignation.
So, let’s provide an outline of some of the unprofessional behavior that I am referring to. This way you can be self-aware if you find yourself doing it and can stop immediately.
• Delaying By Going Silent – Sometimes a candidate will temporarily stop responding to a Recruiter. This is either a negotiating ploy with the prospective employer to show them that you won’t jump at their first offer, or the Job Seeker is waiting for another offer to come in for comparison purposes. Either way, ignoring the Recruiter is just rude. Answer your phone or call them back.
• Providing False Information – Sometimes a Job Seeker will give a Hiring Manager false information in order to avoid telling him/her the actual truth of what is going on. For example, a Job Seeker may be tempted to communicate that notice has been given and there were no issues, when in reality they are talking about a counter offer. The idea being that if the counter offer falls through (or is not as much as he/she wants) then they want the luxury of still changing jobs.
• Expressing Issues for the First Time – Any critical concerns or issues should be brought up and addressed prior to accepting an offer. For example, post-offer is not the time to express how challenging the commute will be and how you want to work from or something closer to home.
• Communicating a Late Need – Similar to the last issue, is when a person communicates a need after accepting an offer, such as informing your new Manager of a two-week vacation you have already scheduled for a month or two after you start.
• Becoming a Communication Burden – You do not need to know everything about the position and company prior to starting in the role. The exact opposite of the person who goes quiet, is the person who does not stop calling with questions. You will be given key policies and other pertinent information once hired.
It is important that you stay professional throughout the hiring process (and, of course, even after the offer has been delivered). There are at least two major reasons why you should be on your best behavior at offer:
1. Employment is at-will for most employees and an employer can pull an offer in almost every situation. So, your behavior runs the risk of being left without the position.
2. You may also be setting yourself up for failure once you start in the position. This is because your behavior will most likely carry with you into the new role and negatively impact your reputation.
For some reason, once a candidate reaches the offer stage, their behavior sometimes changes for the negative. It is imperative that you stay professional right to the end of the process (and why not try to stay professional after that).
As always, the best of luck in your job search.
The following has been prepared for the general information of WNYJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.
Joe Stein WNY Human Resources Professional
Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at: Joe Stein