I’d like to bring up an old subject — a rescinded job offer. I’ve been a reader for a while and have been helping my father in an interview process. He has been in the construction industry for 30-35 years and consistently climbed the ranks from laborer to owning his own construction company and hiring and managing project managers. He was recently approached for a president position at a mid-sized company. I spruced up his resume and helped him prepare for the interviews.
All went well. They said they wanted to grow the division to 3X its size under his leadership, and that they would make it worth his while. We were shocked when the offer came through without mention of any incentive plan to meet the ambitious growth objectives that were a cornerstone of their discussions. The offer was just a solid salary and a promise of a “review in 6 months.”
He was disappointed but still interested in the job, and he wanted to think it over for a few days. He had some concerns about the leadership team and the way this job would change his life. On day 2 they gave him a deadline to decide: evening of the next day. He replied, asking until the afternoon of day 4. On the afternoon of day 3 they rescinded the offer because they wanted someone who was “all in.”
I believe he dodged a bullet. The sudden rush for a decision, no plan to reward the ambitious growth they want him to commit to, and the sudden withdrawal of the offer — these are all red flags to me. What are your thoughts? Am I off base?
Last week we discussed how job opportunities go south. This is special case because a tendered job offer went south! Sometimes you cannot see an employer clearly until you witness its behavior after it makes you a job offer. These people sound like jerks, and I’ll explain what I mean in a minute.
What’s behind a rescinded job offer
First let’s look at the facts and at the employer’s behavior. These are signs a job offer might be rescinded.
- They came to your father; he didn’t approach them. In such situations, the employer should be extra respectful (they want you to marry them!) and deferential (no rush for intimacy!). This employer demonstrated neither the appropriate respect or deference.
- Their pitch was not matched by their offer. I agree – there should be terms in the offer about rewards for meeting the key objectives for the job. It appears that 3X growth is a cornerstone of this job, so where’s the support in the offer?
- You don’t woo someone that you really want to hire by giving them ultimatums.
- It seems to me this company was not “all in” on hiring your dad, and while there are several indications, it became starkly evident when they ignored his request for an extra day. Granting it would have been a courtesy — and a sign of good faith.
Based on what you’ve shared, I agree your dad dodged a bullet. I think the company rescinded the job offer because your dad’s hesitation signaled that he saw problems — and this employer likes its executives to be a little bit blind. The reason for my conclusion is simple: What you see is what you get. If he accepted the offer under these circumstances, he should expect to be treated exactly this way once he’s in the job.
Pursue dreams, not nightmares
Regular readers know that my mentor taught all his students this rule: “Never work with jerks.” The dismissive behavior of the company reveals jerks. Withholding a simple courtesy that your dad requested, and pulling the offer without any discussion, tells us all we need to know.
I know your dad is stinging a bit. It’s understandable that he was having dreams of running a larger company, growing a business, getting rewarded for doing a heavy lift (3X growth would indeed change his life!), and rising to the level he thinks he deserves. It’s hard when you can see it and taste it, it’s so close. But when we look at the reality of this deal, this company is not part of that dream. He’s got good dreams that he should absolutely pursue, except not with jerks that almost dragged him into a nightmare.
Turn the tables
How to Say It
“For our mutual benefit, I’d like to make sure we’re all on the same page regarding the company’s ambitious growth plans. Before we finalize our decision to work together, I’d like to suggest we meet to review our objectives and plans for growth. Is your team available tomorrow?”
I could be wrong, but I think that might have bought him more time as well as more data points on which to base this important decision. I’m guessing the employer took more than 3 days to decide to make the offer! However, I don’t think any of this would have changed the outcome, except perhaps that your dad would have been the one to end the discussions.
Rescinded job offer? On to the next!
Please congratulate your dad on getting an offer to run a company. Even jerks recognize a talented manager, even if they don’t know to treat him. I’m sure your dad knows the difference between good people and jerks. In the throes of getting a job offer, we sometimes set aside our good judgment. Having had time to consider the signals this company gave off, I think your dad might see what life probably would have been like working there.
Please tell him I suggest that, now that he knows how to sell himself as a top executive, he should pursue that kind of job with good people at a healthy company that demonstrates respect and appropriate deference.
Some might view your conclusion and mine as “sour grapes.” But I really think the evidence you’ve shared tells us your dad dodged a bullet.
I hope something I’ve said is helpful. On to the next! I wish you both the best.
Is my analysis sour grapes? What could this executive job candidate have done differently? Was the employer to blame for rescinding this job offer? Have you ever dodged a bullet? What happened?