Being Strung Along

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Often in job hunting, you can’t control the process. What you can do is control your response to what is happening.

There are many places in the job search process where that can be true, but none more than when waiting for an offer.

I was recently representing someone for a C suite position. The candidate would have had to relocate, embraced the job and the opportunity, clearly did a great job at each step in the process, yet when it got down to checking references, there was this little lag that took place.

Our “BS detector” went off. He continued interviewing. References were checked. They were to make a decision by that Friday and no offer was extended. He continued to interview.

The following work, he called to say; he was close to another offer and had promised the CAO to let him know if he was about to receive another offer. It was time to do so.

He dropped him a great note, taking what might be an ordinary courtesy letter into another selling opportunity. No response.

Friday (a week after when the hiring firm said they would be making a decision), he emails saying that he has another offer.

“Contact the CAO,” I say, “Let him know you have the other offer. I suspect I know how this will go.”

“Do you know something,” he asks.

“Let’s read the tea leaves. I could be wrong in how I read them, so don’t treat this as fact. My guess is that they made the offer to another person and you’re the second choice. They will have a decision today or Monday . . . but let him know what is going on; after all, it’s your first choice.”

He called and let the CAO know that he had another offer.

“Can you give us until Monday?”

“Bingo,” he thought. “I’m the second choice.”

“I can’t. I need to commit to a decision today.”

“Let’s speak at [6:30].”

At [6:30], my candidate was thanked for his professional conduct throughout the process and told they had chosen someone else.

Can you imagine what might have happened if after his final round he had sat back and not continued interviewing?

You never stop interviewing until you have the offer letter in hand.

And when delays occur (and these were very modest delays), adopt the headhunter axiom– Time is never an ally. Time delays rarely indicate something good will happen for you, particularly on later rounds of job interviews.

Understand it for what it is–procrastination. Sometimes, procrastination is caused because of bureaucracy. Sometimes because they are “shopping” for a better candidate. Rarely is it because of good circumstances.

Keep going until you receive an offer you are ready to say, “Yes,” to.


© Jeff Altman, Asheville, NC, 2014, 2022



Jeff Altman, The Big Game HunterJeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1800 episodes and “The No BS Coaching Advice Podcast” and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council. “No BS JobSearch Advice Radio” was named a Top 10 podcast for job search. is also a Top 10 YouTube channel for job search.

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