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Top Ten Mistakes Candidates Make When They Are Told They Are Going to Get an Offer

1. Candidates think that their search is over and they're going to get hired. An offer is like any other step in the process of getting hired. It is just a step. This whole process really is not over until you have not only been hired, but have held the job for six to nine months.

2. Candidates let their guard down and quit selling. Candidates think that since they're getting an offer, they don't have to keep selling themselves. I have seen lots of offers become much better simply because a candidate realizes that until he or she accepts an offer, he or she needs to keep selling his or her ability to do the job and reasons why he or she ought to be hired.

3. Candidates think that the negotiations at the time of a final offer need to be adversarial. Candidates get fearful and scared and approach the final offer stages with an attitude of "fear of loss." They need to approach an offer stage with an attitude of "We're all in this together...let's work something out that's valuable to all of us."

4. Candidates are too anxious to get an offer and don't listen or ask the right kind of questions so that they totally understand the offer. Oftentimes, candidates are so anxious to get an offer that they don't really listen to all of it. They don't take good notes or take a logical, reasonable, step-by-step approach to the offer stage.

5. Candidates are too cautious about an offer and are afraid of making a mistake. Candidates often are so afraid of making a mistake and accepting a job that they become too cautious about an offer. They start thinking about things to think about and think themselves out of a very good opportunity.

6. They think that since they're getting an offer (that they might take), they can stop other interviewing cycles. If candidates recognize that offers are simply steps in the process, they're more likely to get more than one offer. Never quit getting offers until you have one that you have accepted.

7. Candidates don't take every offer seriously. Candidates will often go into receiving an offer pretty convinced that they will not accept it for lots of different reasons. I don't recommend doing this. It is important to go after every offer as though it were the last one on earth. Until you hear everything there is to know about an offer, you really don't know enough about it to know whether you accept or reject it. Assume nothing until you have the offer and you know everything about it.

8. Candidates take too much time to think about an offer. If a candidate takes more than a day or so to "think about" an offer, any employer in his or her right mind is going to rescind the offer and hire his or her number two candidate. Most employers will assume that, if you tell them that you are going to think about an offer for more than one day, you're going to leverage that offer with another company. They won't like it and will be irritated.

9. Candidates make assumptions about an offer after they have received it. Because having to accept/reject an offer can be emotionally stressful, candidates will often be embarrassed and ask further questions after they get an offer. If you don't understand everything there is to know about an offer, act like a good business person and call the hiring authority to get a further explanation.

10. Candidates set start dates out too far after an offer is accepted.

If an offer is accepted, a candidate wants to be sure that he or she starts the new job just as soon as possible. Any time that elapses between the offer and starting the job beyond two weeks opens up many possibilities for a status change. No company or hiring authority will want to admit that this kind of thing can happen, but I see it regularly. Once you have committed to take the job, start it just as soon as possible. Leave nothing to chance!

Top Five Mistakes Candidates Make When They Think They Have Been Eliminated After an Interview

1. Candidates don't follow up with the interviewing or hiring authority. "No" doesn't always mean "no." Just because you think you have been eliminated from contention doesn't mean you shouldn't follow up with the employer, thanking him or her for the time and expressing interest in him or her personally and the company for the future.

2. Candidates don't let the hiring or interviewing authority know that they would still like to be considered for other opportunities in the company. Most candidates simply stop selling themselves to a prospective employer. They confuse the job they are interviewing for with being hired. I had one of my candidates a few years back stay in contact with the hiring authority even though he had been rejected for the position he was interviewing for. He was hired by the hiring authority... seven years later at a totally different company.

3. Candidates don't ask the interviewing or hiring authority how they could have done better in the interviewing process. In other words, what made the difference between the people they pursued and you? What could you have done better? Feedback is the breakfast of champions!

4. Candidates don't ask the interviewing or hiring authority who else they might know who might need a good employee. Just

because a hiring authority may not hire you doesn't mean he or she won't like you. If he or she likes you well enough, he or she may not hesitate to refer you to friends who may need an employee.

5. Candidates don't follow up with the interviewing or hiring authority even weeks or months after the interview. If you haven't found a job, it certainly doesn't hurt to e-mail or call a hiring authority even weeks or months after the interview. Most hiring authorities love persistence and the willingness to work. Keeping in touch this way certainly can't hurt.

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