a company rescinded my job offer after I asked for more time to think it over

A reader writes:

I received a job offer on a Tuesday and they wanted to know whether I’d accept by that Friday. Thursday rolls around, and I’m still unsure, as my current company had produced a counteroffer to keep me.

I sent an email to the company that offered me the job, asking if I could have until Monday to think about it. I didn’t think it was that big of a deal, since this was a Monday through Friday job, and the weekends wouldn’t count as business days. I thought the worst they could say was, “No, we really need to know by Friday.” (And just FYI, I did not mention the counteroffer from my current company.) Instead, they completely rescinded the offer, over me asking for one weekend to think it over. Is this normal? It completely took me by surprise!

The short answer is no, having an offer pulled when you ask for a few more days isn’t normal.

The longer answer is that there might have been other things going on.

If they already had the impression that you weren’t particularly enthusiastic about the job, that might have been solidified when you asked for more time after the initial time you’d asked for was gone — and made them think, “Nah, we’ve got other good candidates we’d be happy to offer it to, and who seem a lot more invested in doing the work.”

The same thing could be true if they’d had other doubts — like if they weren’t 100% sold on you but made the offer anyway (which sometimes happens if they’re feeling pressure to hire but haven’t found someone precisely right yet).

The most likely explanation, though, is that the way you asked for more time is what put them off. They’d already given you several days, and asking for more time on the day they expected your answer without explaining why could have come across as if you weren’t very interested. With no other explanation, it likely sounded like you were waiting on another offer or (as in fact was the case) negotiating a counteroffer with your current employer. They’re not going to be thrilled about giving you more time — and possibly losing their other top candidates during the wait — if it’s just so you can negotiate a better deal from your current job.

When you’re asking for additional time to think over an offer after already having been given some time, it’ll usually go over better if you explain why — like “I’m very interested, but I just found out about something happening in my family that might affect my availability and I want to make sure that won’t be an obstacle.” Or, if you’d only been given a short period of time (like a day) to think it over, “I need to run the numbers and make sure this works on my end.” (That one doesn’t work when you’ve already had most of the week though.)

Without an explanation, it comes across as either “I’m waiting on another offer I’d like better” or “I just haven’t been able to make myself that interested in saying yes” — and that’s pretty unappealing to a company that has other candidates they’d happily hire if you don’t work out.

To be clear, asking for time to think over an offer is normal. The issue here is (maybe) that you asked for time, it passed, and then you asked for more time without giving any context.

The thing that I think tripped you up here was the counteroffer. Accepting a counteroffer from your current company is usually (not always, but usually) a bad idea. Employers often make them in a moment of panic about losing someone at a bad time, but once they’ve succeeded in keeping you, being the person who was looking to leave can change the relationship in ways you don’t want (like landing you at the top of the list if they need to make cuts in future, since you were “looking to leave anyway”). If you’d stay at your company if they gave you a raise, it’s generally better to try to make that happen before you’re at the point of fielding offers from other companies. Plus, if it takes a counteroffer to get paid what you’re worth, think about what it means to work for a company that makes you have one foot out the door before they’ll pay you fairly. And if it’s not about the money, then whatever factors drove you to search in the first place are still going to be there once the glow from the raise wears off.

In this case, the counteroffer also muddied your thinking about whether you wanted the new job or not. That’s not to say it’s not sensible to compare two competing offers and take time to think them over — it is — but in this case it sounds like the timing messed up the process you were in with the other company.

{ 225 comments… read them below }

  1. anonymoushippopotamous*

    I agree, accepting a counter offer is usually never okay.

    But no commentary on the exploding job offer? I really hate those and that they’ve become a norm. When did it become okay to not even give someone a week to decide?

    1. anonymoushippopotamous*

      * never okay wasn’t the best phrasing, I meant like, not going to end well in the long term for you.

      1. KayDeeAye (Kathleen_A)*

        I think 3-5 days for a decision is a perfectly reasonable expectation, and the OP’s request was generally reasonable too. But…

        Since the OP didn’t give a reason, the company took this to mean the OP had reservations, and – here’s the thing – the company was *absolutely right*. The OP was waiting for a counteroffer from her current employer, and that’s a pretty significant reservation! Plus, if the OP wanted longer to make a decision, she shouldn’t have waited until zero hour to ask for more time. What that signaled was that she had reservations – and of course reservations is exactly what she had.

        So while I think in general, a company should give potential employees adequate time to make a decision, I can’t help but think that in this case, the company sensed problems here. It could be that they’re always this rigid, which would be bad. But it could be that they would have been more reasonable for an prospective employee who wasn’t signaling loudly and clearly, “I am hoping for a better offer.” It’s impossible to say for sure.

        1. Public Sector Manager*

          At my office we give candidates a week to decide, and when we’re asked for more time at the end of that week, even if it’s just over the weekend or a day or two, 95% of the time the candidate rejects our offer.

          So I agree–it’s not unreasonable for an employer to pull an offer in this context when the OP asked for more time without any context, such as “I have a question about how benefits will work” or “I need to sit down with my partner to discuss some details and they won’t be back until Saturday.”

    2. Lance*

      Because companies want to start things moving as well, for as long as the hiring practice might’ve taken otherwise; honestly, I don’t begrudge them wanting an answer three days after they sent the offer. At the same time, I agree with Alison; providing a vague request for more time, on the deadline day for responding to an offer, doesn’t look great for a candidate, and I could easily see a hiring manager wanting to cut the potential loss and move on to the next candidate before that one might be gone.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        I think that’s my issue, is usually the delays and things getting dragged out was on the company’s end, not mine; so don’t rush me after you took two months longer than we discussed! See also: need me to start right away, begrudge my two week notice period but somehow added an extra 60-plus days to the timeline.

        1. SomebodyElse*

          Because those delays are usually not caused by the hiring manager, but the process itself. The hiring manager has probably been more impatient than you (the candidate) to fill the role. Now that they have a candidate they want to move and get things going.

          If I’m lucky… I can get a budgeted backfill job posted 1 month after I start the process, can be as long as 2. It then takes me another month to get enough resume’s (and I don’t have to have a specified amount) to get my top 3 candidates, then I’ll spend a week interviewing… add another week to get an offer put together and out to the top choice. Then I get to wait for another 2 weeks for a background check to complete, and then a start date is issued which could be up to 3 weeks later depending on pay cycles.

          1. Yorick*

            But none of that is the candidate’s fault, and none of it changes the fact that 3 days is just not enough time to make a huge life decision.

            1. AnotherAlison*

              I’d argue that you don’t need much time at all for the decision, unless the facts of the offer weren’t provided to you, or you’re waiting on a counter. (I’d also argue that if you’re waiting on a counter then you probably shouldn’t take the new job. You must really rather stay at the current place.) The ongoing decision making time is just internal head-heart arguing.

              1. Ben*

                This isn’t realistic. People have families, mortgages, commitments, that they need to account for.
                They might be interviewing for multiple jobs in multiple locations all at once, without any indication that any one opportunity will come through until the offer arrives. And then they have to assess the compensation and everything else associated with the offer. It’s nuts to expect people to be able to make that decision in three days.

                It’s the employer’s prerogative, but they’ll lose out on loads of good candidates who simply need some time to process all of the implications.

                1. SomebodyElse*

                  How long do you ask for to evaluate an offer?

                  (just curious more than anything else)….

                  My company’s offers have a 48 hour deadline. I’ve never had a candidate request more time.

                2. Colette*

                  I really don’t think it should take that long, unless the job involves moving.

                  But I also think that asking for a week when they make the offer is reasonable; asking for another couple of days 3 days in is where the OP went wrong.

                3. Ben*

                  It depends, and I’d strive to be as efficient as possible about it. But I would hope to be given up to a week, and would be turned off by an employer who balked at that. Especially if the employer couldn’t explain the urgency, and especially if I had been strung along for a long hiring process.

                4. Ben*

                  FWIW my last job change entailed a sudden offer after months of radio silence and a cross-country move, so I may be somewhat biased/residually salty.

                5. Yorick*

                  I come from a field where people tend to relocate. I’ve usually heard of about 2 weeks, or 1 week if there’s a need for things to move really quickly.

                  Sure, when you’re not relocating to a totally different area, you don’t need so much time. But IMO it’s pretty silly to think that someone is wishy-washy or not a go-getter if they want to think about a serious life change for more than 3 business days.

                  And no matter what’s making them impatient, why pull the offer? Why not just say, “sorry, we really do need to know by Friday”?

                6. CheeryO*

                  I think three days is very reasonable! By the time you get an offer, you should have a very good idea of whether or not you’d accept the job. Obviously that’s contingent on salary and benefits, and it’s totally understandable to need time to discuss with your SO and go over all of the details, but a line needs to be drawn somewhere. I’ve never heard of anyone getting more than a couple days to mull over an offer.

                7. Grapey*

                  “It’s nuts to expect people to be able to make that decision in three days.”

                  Three days PLUS all the time already spent researching and interviewing at the company seems like a lot of time.

                8. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  I think it’s different if you have to relocate, but not by much. Three to five days sounds totally reasonable if you’re not negotiating the offer package, which would include moving costs, start date, etc. It’s reasonable to ask for time to double-check with all the things that matter to you, but a five-day response window does not seem unduly short to me.

                9. pleaset*

                  This from Grapey is spot on: “Three days PLUS all the time already spent researching and interviewing at the company seems like a lot of time.”

                  If the offer doesn’t involve moving and is in line with that was discussed, this doesn’t see particularly short. Five days would be nicer, but three days for a mid-level job seems OK.

                10. Just Another Techie*

                  No, it’s really not. In the time it takes the employer to make a decision, I’ve generally had plenty enough time to know whether I like the work environment/culture fit/intangibles. And I should already know what my minimum wage requirements are. So once I have an offer, it’s simply a matter of grabbing the insurance premium numbers and deductible from their benefits pamphlet, and throwing that + base salary in the spreadsheet I’ve already designed, and letting it calculate a yes/no on the wages and spit that back at me. At most that might take a full business day to ask and receive the bennies pamphlet if HR didn’t provide it in the offer. And if they decline to provide it, that’s a glaring red flag about how they operate.

                11. Smithy*

                  @SomebodyElse – personally, 48 hours would be too short for me. That being said, in my industry – relocation or not – I’ve not had any interview process go fewer than three rounds. And so if I do get an offer, I usually do really want the time to distill all the interviews and the offer as well as to share with family/friends for their feedback. 48 hours would mean rushing other people in my life who’s input I value as well as making me feel rushed.

                  I would also flag that in my last interview process I was lucky enough to truly have a 1A and a 1B opportunity. I truly do believe I would have been happy with the 1B opportunity, but being allowed time (5 business days) to see whether 1A was a possibility let me truly make the right decision for me. It wasn’t until 1A made the final offer that I was able to truly compare 1A with 1B and assess whether my initial ranking stayed the same once I saw the offers.

                  Had 1A not offered a lot or said no – I would have been really happy to accept 1B’s offer even if it wasn’t perfect and would have excepted with a full heart. But to accept under pressure and with anxiety….I don’t see how that starts a relationship in a great way.

                12. A*

                  Part of the job hunt process is to proactively walk through how you’ll handle different potential outcomes. It shouldn’t take more than a handful of days to assess if anything has changed in the offer that would cause you to deviate from your planned course of action.

              2. Yorick*

                In my experience, it’s not that common for jobs to give you all the salary and benefit information beforehand. So you’re thinking about whether you want the job itself, but you can’t really consider the pros and cons of everything until you get the offer. And sometimes they don’t even give you all the information, so you’re making calls to HR and whatnot to ask questions in those 3 days.

                1. JM60*

                  In my experience, most things you need to know for determining how much you want the job are determined before you get an offer. Usually, the main variable I don’t know until the job offer is the compensation package, but I usually have a good idea of what compensation it would take for me to decide to accept.

              3. Allison*

                I’m inclined to agree here. I’ve been under the impression that 3 days is fairly standard, any more than that might be pushing your luck. Surely by the time you get the actual offer, you’ve already been thinking about what life would be like with this job – you know the location, and whether you’d need to move there and how long/expensive that process might be, you know the benefits if the specifics of things like insurance or PTO could be a deal-breaker, and you have an idea of how much they’d offer, plus you’re usually able to negotiate if they offer less than you were anticipating, and if you have a partner or spouse who’d be impacted by the offer, surely you’ve been keeping them in the loop throughout the process, so that if an offer comes through, you don’t need that much time to think and talk it over.

                1. Working Hypothesis*

                  A key piece of it often is how much information they’re giving you in the first place, and when.

                  A company which lists the pay they’re offering in the advertisement, or who tells you outright what the job pays in the first interview, has just ensured that you will need less time to decide after they make you an offer. A company which plays coy about pay until you name a number, and then makes you an offer which doesn’t bear any resemblance to the number you asked for (and which they indicated wasn’t a problem when they were interviewing you), has just ensured you’ll either need more time, or say no outright.

                  A company which makes their offer in written form, accompanied by all the details of compensation including their insurance plan benefits booklet and the specifics of their 401K plan has just ensured that you’ll need less time to decide. A company which makes you a verbal offer and then has nobody available who knows the other information when you call around their office to try and find out which insurance company they’re using and what it covers has ensured that you’ll need more time to decide.

                  Etc., etc. As Yorick said, if you’re spending your three days phoning their office eight times to try and find out what they haven’t bothered to tell you about the specific terms under which you’re going to be expected to work, you are NOT going to be able to spend those three days evaluating the information you’ve (actually not) been given. If you get it all up front, with as much as possible actually told to you long *before* the offer at the start of the hiring process, then three days starts to look a little more reasonable.

                  I’ve never had to take three days or more to decide whether or not I wanted a job, but I’ve also only once been the sole support of my family, and in that case I needed whatever job I could get quickly, so it didn’t become a question. When we have decided which job offers my husband should accept, OTOH, every detail of finances, time off, and medical coverage comes into play. We have to discuss how each of those details will impact ourselves and our children, and how we will cover for whatever needs aren’t met by a given offer — whether to counteroffer, accept it and find a way to work around the gap, or just turn it down. It takes time. It takes less time if we’ve been able to talk about most of those details in the hypothetical, long before the offer even exists; and if the offer itself has everything lined up in one place for our inspection.

                2. The Other Dawn*

                  I agree. Unless something comes completely out of left field in the offer, it seems like three or four days should be plenty.

              4. Mongrel*

                Another point is that the hiree(?) should have had most of the details before the final offer.
                They’ve already decided that, for whatever reason, they’d like a new job. They’ve, hopefully, already started balancing travel time\conditions, salary, PTO & benefits, career path etc. if not in detail then at least generally so they’re just looking to ‘plug the final numbers in’.
                I don’t think it’s to much to start with the question “What am I looking to get out of a new job?” before the job hunting starts, needing an additional weekend to mull it over at the end of the process sounds ass backwards to me.

              5. Lucette Kensack*

                I agree. Applicants are actively participating and can/should be making their considerations along the way. The only new information at the offer is the salary and benefits (and even that is sometimes discussed earlier). I can’t imagine why — other than considering another offer — someone would need more than a day or so to either make a decision or come back with questions or to negotiate salary and benefits.

            2. SomebodyElse*

              “But none of that is the candidate’s fault”

              I never said it was… but it will help the PP understand why there is often an inpatient hiring manager on the other side of that offer.

              Just a little perspective.

              ” that 3 days is just not enough time to make a huge life decision.”
              On your other comment, presumably the candidate has already put some thought into this life changing decision and by the time the offer comes (unless it’s wildly different than comparable benefits and equal or more pay) then all that’s left is to run the final numbers, look for surprises, and accept or negotiate.

              It’s been awhile since I’ve interviewed, but 48-72 hours is pretty standard in my experience.

              1. Emily K*

                Same here. I would definitely expect longer if say, some old contact popped up and said, “I’ve got a position open and I think you’re perfect for it – whaddaya say?” so it was a completely brand new idea I hadn’t spent any time considering already. But when you’re in an interview process, you’re expecting a possible offer and have presumably gotten yourself 90% of the way to the decision already and have already though through considering all the facts you knew thus far, all that’s left is to plug in the last few numbers that aren’t revealed until the offer and then make a choice.

                And it may depend on the role, but for my part I would honestly consider it at least a yellow flag if someone was so indecisive that they needed more than 3 days just to make a decision, when they already have all the information to inform their decision in front of them. That’s why context might have helped LW here – if you’re still trying to gather information you need to make a decision that’s reasonable. Without context you come across wishy-washy and weirdly unable make a decision. I would definitely wonder if you were going to bring that same wishy-washy indecisiveness to work once you’re on the job. Being able to make decisions/commit to a course of action is one of the more important skill components of succeeding in a creative job.

                1. Yorick*

                  I have never been told the salary before getting an offer. I’ve had an idea of what it could be, but it’s usually a range that’s kinda large. I then had to take time to figure out how the offer compared to my old salary (jobs in my field often involve relocating).

                  I’ve also rarely gotten benefit information before, or even after the offer. My current job is union, so I could look up the union contract to find everything. Or I’ve had to call multiple people in HR or whatever. There can be a lot of work, which is in addition to your job and your personal obligations. It can definitely take more than 3 days.

                2. Emily K*

                  Right – that’s the kind of context I’m talking about. If you tell me you need time to gather information that you’re missing (“It’ll take me a few days to get all the information I need from HR to make a decisions,” or “I’m expecting an offer from another company and need to do my due diligence and see what it is before I decide,”) I’m not going to worry about your decisiveness. If you come across like you’re just on the fence and can’t decide which side to come down on and want to sleep on it 5 times, that’s way different.

                  For what it’s worth, at my org the benefits handbook PDF is always attached to the job offer email (which includes the salary in writing).

            3. Colette*

              I’m not sure I agree that a new job is a “huge life decision”, as you’ve mentioned several times. Yes, it’s a change, but unless the work involved is a new type of job, the location is much farther away or requires a move, the amount of travel is significant, or the salary is much lower, it shouldn’t have a serious impact on your life.

              1. Working Hypothesis*

                Really? I do the same type of work at every job I take, and for more or less the same money (adjusting for inflation), and exactly what company I work for and what boss I work for is one of the most important decisions I make. My job is important to me. Even though I don’t work full-time, so I’m not there half my waking hours the way most people are, it is enormously relevant to my quality of life. Am I going to be working for a power-hungry jerk and among a group of colleagues who have been taught to backstab each other as the only way to survive? Or for a servant leader who has deliberately recruited a group of helpful, kind, friendly colleagues and given all of us reason to love our jobs?

                I can easily see making a decision on whether or not to take a given job within three days; that’s not my point here. What I really *can’t* imagine is considering which company policies, manager, and colleagues fill 40 hours of your week as “not having a serious impact on your life.”

                1. Mama Bear*

                  Agreed. Taking a new job can be a HUGE deal, especially if you have circumstances like aging parents, children, poor personal health or any number of things where your benefits will greatly impact your quality of life.

                2. Emily K*

                  I agree here. It’s definitely a very big decision, enough of the time for enough people to call it that.

                  Where I quibble is I think with the assumption that “big decision” = “requires multiple nights of mulling and conducting thought experiments after all relevant information is received.” Spending more time just doing the thinking step of the decision-making process very quickly hits a plateau in terms of the benefit of spending the additional time. You want to spend enough time to be sure that you’ve thought of/considered everything, which could take a couple of days, but once you’re sure you’ve thought through everything, you could spend forever just endlessly second-guessing yourself and changing your mind – at some point you just have to decide, and putting off that decision isn’t necessarily going to help you make a better decision.

                3. Not your dad's recruiter*

                  But how does taking a week or more to decide helps one to figure out if their future boss is a jerk?

              2. Quake Johnson*

                What? How is deciding where your going to spend a majority of your waking hours for the foreseeable future not a major life decision?

              3. A*

                Seriously? Workplace, co-workers etc. are a huge part of most people’s lives. I spend 40+ hours a week there / with those people – changing it up is one of the biggest life decisions I can make!

            4. Mommie.MD*

              It is if you’ve already made the choice to move on. If you’re ambivalent they can usually sense it. OP was waiting on another offer and they probably knew it. Onto the next good candidate. OP agreed to the answer on Friday. When it didn’t come, company declined to wait. Unfortunately asking for more time on the day they expected an answer was a risk. Especially with no explanation.

            5. Person from the Resume*

              3 days to a week is the normal expected length to evaluate a job offer once you have all of the facts i.e. full list of compensation and related details.

              It is not intended to allow you to compare multiple offers unless you’re lucky enough to get them within days of each other.

              It is not intended to allow you start figuring out if you can make a move. You should have that mostly figured out before the job offer comes in to the point saying I won’t move for less than $x. Note: I’m not saying you know before you apply, but during the process of interviewing you should be learning things and making evaluations and decisions so that there’s not much to think about once the offer comes.

              1. Emily K*

                Yeah, usually throughout the process as I learn more about the job, I’m beginning to form a number in my head of what this job would need to pay for me to be willing to take it. Not that I would share that number with the company up front :) but I usually have a sense that anything over $X is enough, and if it’s not much over $X I’ll try to negotiate up just so I don’t leave anything on the table. And I usually have a floor of $Z that I literally could not live on any less than that, so if the offer comes in between $Z and $Y, I’m thinking ahead of time about what working conditions or benefits I might be able to ask for that would make me feel good about accepting the overall offer. I may not know exactly what they’re going to offer until they offer it, but I know what my range is.

          2. Quickbeam*

            Plus drug screens in my line of work, nursing. I’m surprised I have any hair left (drug analysis). Takes time.

            1. SomebodyElse*

              I wasn’t sure if it was worth mentioning, but this could be a red flag too. Generally speaking the drug test is scheduled immediately after the offer is accepted. There could be some red flags if there is a significant/unexpected delay in accepting the offer.

              1. Masha*

                Yes, this can definitely be a red flag for some employers. Certain jobs mandate that you schedule the test within a certain time of receiving the offer – I recall this being the case for a government contractor job early on in my career.

        2. Aquawoman*

          We don’t know that it took 60 days to issue the job offer here, but even if it did, it’s apples and oranges. Deciding on a candidate requires getting a number of candidates interviewed by a number of company folks who are probably hard to coordinate, then considering all of the information in the resumes and interviews prior to making an offer. Even if that’s 60 “extra” days, that’s 60 days the candidate has to consider the nonmonetary factors, and all that’s left once the offer has been made (usually) is the financial aspect. People should be able to crunch the numbers in a few days. I think rescinding the offer is unusual but if they had 2 candidates who were very close, they may be thinking that this one seems not all that interested, and they may have made the wrong call on the candidate PLUS they may lose the other one.

      2. Sam.*

        I could see being annoyed/concerned about a vague request for an additional week or for additional time if you’ve already given them a week or so. But asking for effectively one additional business day when you only gave them three to begin with? Rescinding a job offer over that strikes me as particularly inflexible and unconcerned with employee needs. Unless there were other circumstances involved where it was reasonable for them to expect a quick turnaround, I’d frankly consider this a bullet dodged for OP.

        1. Mama Bear*

          The way I read it was the company asked for a reply by Friday and the OP asked for one more business day. “…they wanted to know whether I’d accept by that Friday.”

          At any rate, I do think that some context could have helped, but any company that immediately rescinds the offer instead of reiterating that no, they need it by Friday is unreasonable. I’d wonder what else they were unreasonable about.

    3. Allypopx*

      Well, a week to decide and then presume two weeks to start – there’s a lot of reasons that might be hard for a company’s timeline.

      And, especially if someone appears to be on the fence, that’s time when they might lose other candidates.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        That doesn’t justify not giving the candidate time, it just sounds like excuses of “we can take as much time as we want, but you better dance to OUR schedule once we finally make up our minds”.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The whole post is commentary on that :) There are a bunch of reasons why it might have happened — the possibilities I raise are speculation, but if any of them are true, that would explain it.

    5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      It doesn’t sound like it was an exploding offer, though. Five days, with the option to extend for good cause, is fairly normal. We don’t know if they would or wouldn’t have extended the timeframe for OP because of the way the request was worded, but presumably a person thinks about whether they’ll take the job (and the circumstances under which they’d accept) ahead of time. It would have been different if OP was negotiating the offer itself, but it doesn’t sound like that scenario was in play.

      1. KayDeeAye (Kathleen_A)*

        Yeah, I think the OP’s vague (or so it sounds like) statement about how “I need some more time” was a big problem here. It signaled that she was on the fence, and guess what? She absolutely was. Maybe the company is always this rigid, and that would be bad, but with a less ambivalent candidate, maybe it’s not. We’ll never know, I guess.

        In theory, I agree that the OP’s request was reasonable. But if it was as vague as it sounds here, and if the company sensed all those reservations, which it sounds like it did, well, that makes it a lot easier to understand why the company decided that maybe it would be better to start fresh with a more enthusiastic candidate.

  2. Madame X*

    This is unfortunate. I hope the LW, find a a better offer with another company or within their own company.

  3. I Will Steal Your Pen*

    I agree that taking a counteroffer is rarely a good idea. And as an HR pro – I often advise against it, since the reasons they are looking are rarely monetary, and more often than not, the employee will leave within 6 months, if not sooner.

    However I think unless the OP wasn’t the company’s first choice, it was rather unreasonable not to offer one more business day to decide. Its only one day….If the role was super critical, and it has been open for a while, one day isn’t really going to make or break operations.

    With that being said – I see this as a bullet dodged, personally.

    1. pleaset*

      ” it was rather unreasonable not to offer one more business day to decide.”

      Or even say “No, we need your decision Friday.”

  4. Anon Here*

    They probably had other strong candidates who came across as more enthusiastic about the job.

    They should have handled it differently, though. They could have, at minimum, given more of an explanation for pulling the offer. They burned a bridge.

    1. AnonForever*

      We had this situation. Extended an offer and radio silence for 3+ days.
      We did the person a huge favor by even extending an interview. We knew them from a previous role at the company. They had been laid off after 10+ years of service (contract ended) and were out of work and desperately searching. The manager took this as a sign of lack of enthusiasm and “go-getter” attitude. We knew the person didn’t have any other competing offers or interviews, they knew the company benefits already and had the salary information. The person finally responded to the offer and took the job but it has been touch and go ever since. Still not a go-getter.
      In fact I am the letter writer #1 regarding this same person: https://www.askamanager.org/2019/10/my-coworker-is-hassling-me-about-his-peer-feedback-employee-calls-me-buttercup-and-more.html

      1. Ben*

        I don’t understand how you were doing the person a favor by extending an interview, yet decided to hire them? Surely the company did not hire this person over other qualified candidates and continues to employ them out of altruism?

        1. AnonForever*

          No. They actually were very qualified for the job. We did interview others. And in working with them in the past we thought they would work out in this role. They can do the job but hoping they would have been more enthusiastic and go above and beyond more.

          1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

            Protip: No one is going to be “enthusiastic to go above and beyond” for a company that feels they are doing their job candidates a favor.

          2. Cat Fan*

            I’m still not seeing how you were doing them a favor. It seems you think you’re doing them a favor because you knew they were out of work, and I’m not sure how I feel about that way of thinking.

          3. biobotb*

            Like the other people responding to you, I don’t see how giving them an interview was doing them a favor if they’re very well qualified. Why are you expecting them to be enthusiastic about their employer if they’re employer isn’t enthusiastic about them? It goes both ways.

      2. Platypus Enthusiast*

        I’m confused by this as well. When you offered the person (Barry, as you called him in your original letter) the position, did you indicate that he had time to consider the offer? And did he get back to you within that time frame? Also, how can you be sure that there were no other offers or interviews that he may have been considering?
        I also think its misleading to say that he is employed as a favor. Your comments here suggest that Barry fulfills the requirements of the role, and the issue is his lack of initiative. If an employee shows initiative, that’s wonderful, but not all employees want to go above and beyond for their employer. That said, his reaction to the feedback isn’t great.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      I was given 24 hours to consider an offer, and I asked for more time. But they were pretty clear that they had at least one candidate waiting in the wings and needed my answer ASAP. It was a little frustrating since I felt like I had no room for negotiating at all, but least they did tell me straight out that they needed to know rather than just boot me. I declined due to (other) red flags.

      1. Moira*

        Well, points to them for being honest? Or maybe they were engaging in some psychological warfare to prevent negotiation…it’s a weird one.

  5. DNDL*

    Same thing happened to me. I asked for the offer in writing and for the weekend to think it over, and they rescinded immediately.

    1. KitKat*

      That sounds sketchy. Most people need the offer in writing to feel better about giving their two weeks.

      1. DNDL*

        My company found out and privately confided in me that they don’t consider offers official or valid until they’re sent in writing. Considering the other company is more or less the same business in a different locality, it was very, very sketchy that they were not following the regional norm in terms of written offers. Offer was made on a Wednesday. I asked for the weekend to review a written offer and they pulled it on the spot.

        1. Antilles*

          I’m with KitKat, that’s super sketchy.
          That said, I see a big difference between “I asked for a written offer and a couple days to think it over” (your situation) and OP actually being given a few days and then asking for an extension shortly before the answer was due. A company being irritated when you ask for ANY time to think it over is a red flag; a company being irritated when you ask for an extension is a lot more understandable.

          1. Hiring Mgr*

            Personally, I don’t think it’s that understandable to get irritated over a one day extension request.

            1. Antilles*

              Pulling the offer was a little extreme, but I understand the irritation: I said on Tuesday “can we hear back by Friday?” and you’d agreed to that, then you changed your mind the day before.
              If you’d asked for extra time initially, sure, I wouldn’t have blinked at that. But agreeing to the date, then changing it afterwards? Yeah, that’s a little irritating.
              I don’t necessarily think it’s “pull the offer” level unless there are other factors in play (enthusiasm concerns as AAM mentioned, tight timelines with other candidates, really need to hire someone by a certain date, etc), but it’s fair to not be thrilled about a last minute extension request.

              1. Moira*

                I don’t know if I’d be irritated, exactly, but everyone time I’ve been involved in hiring it has been a choice between several good candidates. If one asked for an extension without giving me a good reason I would assume they were lukewarm about the position. I’d probably want to go ahead with another candidate at that point.

                It’s fine to be lukewarm about a position or want more time, but the reality is that most companies probably have other options, and you’re taking a risk by drawing out your decision.

        2. Database Developer Dude*

          DNDL, you dodged a bullet.

          I was interviewing with a company called RGS Associates (oh yes, I’m naming names, sue me). They’ve since been bought out by US Falcon. In any case, immediately after the interview, they called me on my cell phone as I was walking back to the Metro and wanted an answer.

          I asked for 24 hours to think it over, and I got pushback, being asked “why can’t you give me an answer right now”. I then countered, saying I needed to evaluate it properly, and offered to give them an answer by 5pm that day, but I still got pushback, so I asked for -one hour- to consider it. I still got pushback. I then declined the offer, and the guy on the phone pulled it, citing my ‘outrageous demands’ and hung up on me.

          Screw RGS Associates, and US Falcon. I will never work for them. This was a bullet dodged, and I’m glad of it.

          1. Putting the "pro" in "procrastinate"*

            I then declined the offer, and the guy on the phone pulled it.

            “Oh yeah? Well, you can’t decline out offer because we’re rescinding the offer!” Classic.

      2. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, I had competing job offers at one point and asked for everything in writing so I could compare them side by side. One company sent me a professional looking packet with numbers and details on benefits etc etc.; the other sent me a letter that basically had the title, pay and “yeah, we have health insurance.”
        (Guess which one I took.)
        And at least they gave me SOMETHING…

      3. Mama Bear*

        I’d absolutely want to have it in writing! Otherwise you could be agreeing to something you don’t want.

    2. BRR*

      That company is extremely wrong and unless you absolutely needed a job I think you lucked out. But I think it sounds different than the LW’s situation.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Wow, yeah no. I don’t care if it means that I don’t show enough enthusiasm, I need to have the offer in writing before I accept. Otherwise what will stop the company from later saying they never made it, or that it was for X/2 in pay instead of the X that they originally said.

    4. Gazebo Slayer*

      People who won’t give you the offer in writing before making you accept are straight up crooks.

    5. 1234*

      They were probably hoping to pull a bait and switch on whichever candidate took the job.

      I was given a verbal offer for OldJob and they wanted me to put my notice in. I responded back that I wouldn’t be giving notice until I got the written offer. While they were surprised I had asked that, they immediately said “Sure, that’s no problem.”

  6. Cleo K*

    OP here, with a little clarification:
    The job I was in was actually a temp job. It was fine, but it wasn’t the work I really wanted to do, so I thought I’d search elsewhere once I was nearing the completion of my temp work (a 3 month contract). I fully intended to take the new offer and told my company, which they then said they would produce a counter offer that would beat the original offer. After I emailed company 2 (the one that had recently extended the new offer) asking for the weekend to think it over, I had not seen nor accepted the counter offer, but wanted to wait to see if the original company would give me work more suited to my professional goals as well as a pay increase. So at that point, I had no choice but to accept the counter offer, since the offer from company 2 was pulled from the table.

    Thanks for the advice Alison, I’ll be sure to be more careful about asking for an extension, even if it is a one weekend one.

    1. Cleo K*

      One more thing, I actually asked for the extension on Thursday, and they wanted my answer on Friday. Not a whole lot better than the day of, but I had just had the interview that week, so I thought they would give me at least a week to think it over.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        The thing is, it’s partially about what you ask for at the start. If you’d asked for a week initially, they might have given it to you. But you asked for a few days, they gave you that, and then you came back and asked for more — which raises the issues I talked about in the post. It also could be that they’d told their second choice they’d give them an answer by Friday, based on your word, and that person had a deadline of their own to take a different offer so needed an answer by then. Lots of domino pieces can be in play.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          I agree with this. Asking for a week to consider is longer than we typically get, but usually not a big deal. In my experience, people who ask for time and then come back and ask for more time are typically using our offer to leverage another offer and not serious about taking our position. Certainly not 100% of the time, but often enough that I assume a candidate is not taking the offer when the request an additional few days after already having a few to think it over.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I co-sign this. If i were asked for a week on the day the offer was made, I could work around it. But it becomes much harder to extend an extension when I’m trying to map out when to move on to our next choice candidate.

        3. Hiring Mgr*

          To me it’s still strange to just the pull the offer after such a short time, whatever justifications are being made. At least at places I’ve worked, job offers aren’t made cavalierly like this

          1. Tallulah in the Sky*

            Same. I understand that lots of things can be in place on the company’s side and that they won’t accept to push the deadline, but to rescind the offer ? As long as it was a request, made politely, I don’t see anything egregious enough to rescind an offer.

            My experience might be coloring my judgement here. I accepted a job at a company who wasn’t willing to give me much time to consider the offer (I accepted anyway), and this attitude ended being a good representation of how they consider their employees.

        4. Britt*

          I’m a little confused where it says the OP asked for any time at start. Is that just assumed because that’s what others do? Is it the same thing as me asking upon receiving an offer “When would you need to know by?” Because sometimes I’m just told the timeframe without asking at all which is what I assumed here.

          That’s the only thing I’m getting tripped up on with this letter.

      2. Retro*

        Hi OP! It sounds to me like the only thing that might’ve turned off company 2 was the timing and notification to them on Thursday requesting more time. I’m not sure what was written in the email, but assuming you asked for the extension in a polite way, I don’t think it was fair to pull the offer. As a hiring manager, I would feel peeved that you were requesting an extra day, but accepting jobs are big decisions and since the offer only came on Tuesday, it’s not that unreasonable to ask for an extension. Last minute, yes, but a one-day extension in exchange for a weekend’s worth of thinking isn’t a huge ask.

        Was the job from company 2 a temp job as well? That would explain why they are more quick to move on

        1. Cleo K*

          The job from company 2 was not a temp job, and they had not expressed a need to hire ASAP, so that’s why I felt comfortable asking for a weekend extension.

          1. R*

            Never think you are irreplaceable. If a business wants to fill a role they will just go to the next person in the queue. It’s their call not yours. You work for them not the other way around.

      3. CM*

        I agree with Alison, it’s the second ask that was the problem. In your shoes, upon hearing from your company that they plan to give you a counteroffer, I would have said, “Sorry, I know it’s short notice, but I have to accept this offer by Friday, so I will need a written counteroffer by Thursday to have time to consider it.” That way you’re not jeopardizing the offer in hand. Your approach prioritized your current job, not the new one.

        Exception: if you really preferred to stay at the current company and were willing to risk losing the offer, then it would make sense to tell the new job you need to extend again.

        1. Antilles*

          Even if you still wanted a time extension, providing a deadline to your current company would still have benefits in that it makes it easy to know what to actually ask for.
          You really, really don’t want to be the candidate who asks for an extension to Monday, but then Monday rolls around and you have to ask for Yet Another Extension. Even the most reasonable company would be thinking you’re not interested.

    2. Lance*

      In that sort of scenario, in the future, I’d suggest going with the somewhat surer bet in the new company/job. Sure, something could pop up and you could serve to gain more from the current company… but that’s only what could be, compared to an offer with people you’ve actively spoken with about a new role.

    3. Tired DC Temp*

      Yeah, temp work by and large is going to have tighter timelines and a larger pool of possible candidates than permanent work. They may have needed coverage starting that week or simply didn’t want to deal with the hassle of extending their timeline.

      1. Mommie.MD*

        Exactly. And OP said it wasn’t really work they wanted to do. The company may have sensed something was off. It being temp work affects everything. Company most likely wanted someone enthusiastic about the position who met the offer deadline.

        1. Employee of the Bearimy*

          You’ve got it backwards – the OP was already in a temp job doing work they didn’t really want to do, and the new job was permanent and a better fit professionally.

    4. AnotherAlison*

      Slightly different reaction than the first time through, since it was a temp job you were leaving, but what was strange to me was you essentially resigned before accepting the new job. I’ve been at my job a very, very long time, but I would want everything buttoned up on the new job end before telling my current job I’m leaving. Of course, that’s when counter-offers are the worst because you have to rescind your acceptance at the new place if you take it, but I would want to avoid what happened here or potentially have no new job or old job!

        1. Mommie.MD*

          Maybe he was in the temp job. I’m confused lol. Anyway I hope he finds the job he desires. Job hunting is a huge stressor.

    5. Goofy*

      “even if it is a one weekend one”

      Based on this self-justifying language, I’m not sure OP is really hearing the advice that is being given. It’s not about the amount of time requested or the fact that the weekend isn’t business days so it shouldn’t matter. It’s the fact that, on Tuesday you said you’d be able to decide by Friday, then on Thursday you suddenly needed until Monday, with no explanation given as to why.

      The offering company (correctly) concluded that you were shopping around for a better offer because it was so obvious you were doing so that you might as well have told them explicitly. If it wouldn’t surprise you if they pulled your offer after being explicitly told you were wanting to see if you could get something better, you shouldn’t be surprised that they did so after being implicitly told, which is what your actions did.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Yes—this distinction is important. (And I agree that I’m not sure OP is hearing the advice given—they keep focusing on the length of the second extension instead of the comments that asking for two extensions without explanation is what comes off poorly for the employer.)

        1. Delphine*

          Where are you getting two extensions from? The employer said, “Can you tell us by Friday?” and OP requested a single extension on Thursday.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            Unless I misunderstood the OP’s update in the comments, the original few days to decide weren’t offered by the company, they were something she asked for at the time of the offer. That would be the first request for an extension.

          2. NotOnlyYouDelphine*

            I also can only manage to interpret the original message as:
            – Company makes offer, and part of that offer is to reply by Friday
            – Thursday rolls around, first extension is asked for
            – That’s it, the company gave exclusively weekdays and the was successful candidate asked to add some weekend days to really have time to think about it

            Everyone else seems to think “and they wanted to know whether I’d accept by that Friday” means the person *asked* for Friday in the first place though, so I guess that’s the interpretation most people have of that? The only way I see it is that the company *offered* that, but I seem to be in the minority here.

            I almost have to wonder if the original message was partially redacted, because Alison’s post in response talks with so much certainty that just isn’t in what I see here that the weekend was the second request. It certainly is a head scratcher.

          3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Oh, maybe I misread! I thought the original request of until Friday was bargained for, but on re-read it may have been unilateral. In that case, the employer’s reaction seems more unreasonable.

    6. Working Hypothesis*

      Cleo, one thing I’m a little confused about:

      You said that your current role (the temp job) was something you didn’t really enjoy doing. Was the potential new role, the one you got an offer for that was eventually rescinded, a job you expected to enjoy doing?

      If so, I’m afraid I think you made a mistake to even consider the counteroffer. It’s common for companies to throw money at people who might be walking out the door, and in this case it might not even mean they’re going to take it out of the way they think of you later, since they might simply have valued you enough to want to keep you and been planning to make you an offer before your time ran out, but not known they had to do it so quickly. But the bigger issue is that you don’t like the work. It’s pretty rare, in my experience, for companies to be able to materially change the job duties in a counteroffer from what they were originally… that’s the job they need filled, after all; and if you’re not going to be doing *that* job, they probably wouldn’t have one more to your liking that they needed to have done.

      So you’re left with more money than you might have made in the new job, but I would think it likely that you’re still going to be doing the same tasks you didn’t like. To me, that’s not a good trade. I am truly hoping for your sake that your company not only values you enough to find a way to give you tasks you like better, but is in a position to be capable of doing so! But I’m skeptical.

      Bottom line: so long as the pay is adequate, I take the job I’ll enjoy more every single time. Life’s too short to waste doing things you don’t like to do, even for money, unless you absolutely have to. I just started a job a few weeks ago which carries some indeterminate but real amount less total compensation than my previous job. (It allows and encourages tips, while my last one didn’t, so it’s unclear exactly how much I’m losing, but it’s some.) But I’ve been keeping an eye on this company for four years, while friends and colleagues moved in and out of it and always spoke well of the way they treated their staff. I’m happy to be there. I can’t imagine willingly taking a job where I wouldn’t enjoy myself, because it paid more, unless it paid so overwhelmingly much more that I could retire early after only a few years and then enjoy myself full time or something.

    7. Public Sector Manager*


      I think the big take away is to focus on the things you can change and not worry about the things you can’t.

      From your end, I see two missteps. The first is a simple lack of communication with the potential employer on why you needed more time. The second is not putting your current employer on a tighter timeline. It looks like you got the offer from the potential employer on a Monday or Tuesday. And when your current employer said they wanted to put together a package to keep you, you didn’t give them a deadline. I think you should have told the current employer that you needed their offer as soon as possible (e.g. Wednesday COB or Thursday a.m.) because you had to respond to the new company by Friday. I’d be curious to hear how long your current employer actually took to get you an offer for full-time employment.

      As for the potential employer, there could be so many things at play on their end that I wouldn’t try to figure out where they are coming from. It could be that the hiring manager liked candidate #2 best but the CEO told them to make you an offer first. It could be that they had a firm deadline on their end (e.g. candidate #2 needed to be told by Friday, employee A is leaving but they will train you and delaying the decision by 3 calendar days may cut the training component short by 3-4 business days, etc). And it could be that the hiring manager had been burned by other candidates before and was just frustrated as well.

  7. AnonED*

    As a hiring manager, it would really put me off to ask for more time. I likely have other qualified candidates who I risk losing. I’ve also been in the position of trying to finish up searches during less than convenient times – I even put off my honeymoon by a week once. It would make me feel like game playing, too. And, it’s a sign that deadlines don’t mean much to you. It’s not fair, necessary, but you don’t have a track record with them. I’m not sure I would pull the offer, but I would be prepared for a no on Monday and psychologically have moved on.

    1. College Career Counselor*

      Really? You would be put off by what effectively turns out to be an extension of one business day? Yes, it’s not ideal that the LW came back and asked for a bit more time, but it’s not like she asked for a month or even a week. And possibly the LW could have asked to give a response on the following Monday when initially given the offer on Tuesday. “Need to look at some numbers, talk with family, etc.” But we don’t always think about that in the moment.

      This company was (unreasonably, in my opinion) annoyed at being put off by another business day and yanked the offer.

      1. AllTheNope*

        People keep emphasizing the ‘one business day’ but most of the hiring managers I know don’t think about it that way. Notifying HR of an accepted offer starts a big complicated ball rolling in my workplace, and having that going over the weekend is a huge headstart when the process can take another few weeks to complete. And I’m in an ‘industry’ that almost never works weekends.

        1. Cleo K*

          That does make a lot of sense, I’ve never worked in HR so I don’t know the process. Though if that were the case, I would’ve thought instead of pulling the offer, they would’ve insisted I get a response to them by Friday, instead of completely pulling the offer. But again, I have no idea what goes on on the HR side, and they indeed could have been put off by my request and/or needed a candidate ASAP and I was not privy to that information.

        2. Yorick*

          I assume they’d give her until the end of the day on Friday, and if that’s the case, HR in most places is probably not going to start anything until Monday anyway.

        3. Quickbeam*

          I know with our HR, that day could mean a substantial delay in hiring as they start at the beginning of a pay period. Plus once a decision is made there is a LOT of heat on the hiring team to get that person up and running.

        4. pamplemousse*

          A Friday to Monday delay is actually a really big deal at my company.

          Our system needs 10 full business days to get a new hire ready to start, and we have 2 designated “onboarding Mondays” every month when we start all new hires to make onboarding, benefits, etc. more efficient. Pushing an acceptance back from Friday afternoon to Monday morning could actually end up delaying a start date by 2 weeks:

          Let’s say our next onboarding Monday is Dec. 2. Any offers accepted by end of day on Friday, Nov. 15 will start processing in the system that day, be done by Nov. 29, and be ready to start Monday, Dec. 2. If the offer is accepted on Monday, Nov. 18, then the paperwork starts processing that day, and the person can’t start until Monday, Dec. 2. The next onboarding date after that is Dec. 16.

          This obviously isn’t the end of the world for someone we want to hire — if we’re hiring people who are already employed, they understandably want a little time between jobs and so we end up pushing back the start date a lot of the time anyway. We definitely wouldn’t yank an offer over it without something else going on (a second choice candidate with a hard deadline, for example), since at that point, there’s no way you’re going to get anyone into the job on Dec. 2 unless you offer to your next candidate and they accept on the spot. But it does make the request to think about it over the weekend into a much bigger deal than it might seem!

          1. pamplemousse*

            Argh, I screwed this up. I meant to say:

            Let’s say our next onboarding Monday is Dec. 2. Any offers accepted by end of day on Friday, Nov. 15 will start processing in the system that day, be done by Nov. 29, and be ready to start Monday, Dec. 2. If the offer is accepted on Monday, Nov. 18, then the paperwork starts processing that day, and _the paperwork isn’t done_ until the end of the day on Monday, Dec. 2. The next onboarding date once the paperwork is done is Dec. 16.

        5. NW Mossy*

          Along the same lines, some hiring managers may place more-than-typical emphasis on sticking to previously agreed timelines – I’ll own up to being one myself. When you’re responsible for running complex processes with lots of dependencies, adjusting the positioning of one domino can have significant cascading effects even when it doesn’t seem like it should. I put a premium on hiring people who can appreciate those risks and strive to avoid them where practicable.

          The rules of thumb I use with my team on deadlines: assume that they’re fixed and manage to them, give the earliest possible heads-up when they’re at risk, and know that extensions come with costs you see and costs you don’t.

          And now, back to explaining why an external partner’s confident assertion that there’s “plenty of time to do this before December 1” is at odds with the practical realities of the process and the calendar….

        6. Courageous cat*

          Seriously. People’s brains don’t necessarily work on business days – people work on the weekends too. I feel like this isn’t going to land conceptually as simply 1 business day for many people.

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        The thing is, a first request for time to consider and a second request for time to consider are different creatures.

        A person who asks for a few days to think before deciding on an offer is probably running the numbers, talking it over with their partner/family, checking out the insurance plan to make sure it suits their needs, all totally reasonable and responsible things to do before accepting a job. When I was a hiring manager, I always granted those requests.

        But for someone to come back and ask for a second extension with no context? I’ve never had that lead to the person in question accepting the job. They almost always respond at the later deadline that they’ve accepted another position. I had one person say they needed another day or two to figure things out with their partner’s job, and that person did eventually accept the offer. But that second request for more time without any reason for it would make any hiring manager feel uneasy.

        1. Yorick*

          I do agree that a reason would make the request for more time seem more reasonable. Just as a reason on the company’s side would make rejecting the request seem more reasonable.

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        If someone turns down my offer on a Friday, my HR can have that offer out to a second-choice candidate same-day, which gives the next candidate in line the weekend to review the offer.

        Also, if someone comes back and asks for more time beyond their original ask, it usually means they’re not serious about taking the offer or are shopping it, which is fine, but also not something I want to delay my hiring process to accommodate, particularly if I have a close second to whom I can offer the position.

      4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        The problem is that it’s a second request for an extension, not the length of the extension. Without explanation, a request for a second extension appears (to the employer) like the candidate is not enthused about the position or is leveraging the offer with someone else. Meanwhile, other viable candidates may move on or be snatched up, resulting in a very limited pool if OP had ultimately declined.

        In my last job, I couldn’t hold a position open for more than a week before I had to move on to my second candidate. There’s a number of reasonable explanations for not allowing someone to have a second extension. Yanking the offer was really unfortunate for OP, but it’s not inherently unreasonable or punitive.

    2. Database Developer Dude*

      Candidates have other irons in the fire too, that they risk losing if they hold out for your offer.

    3. SpaceySteph*

      This seems a lot like ask vs guess culture to me. OP thinks they can ask and if the company has a reason to say no, they will, no big deal. AnonED doesn’t even want to be asked because the answer might be no.

      Certainly no candidate has any way of knowing if the hiring manager put off a honeymoon to stick around for their answer. Whats the harm in saying “sorry, no, we need to know by tomorrow or we will have to proceed with other candidates.”

      Also, there could be a reasons its taking a long time that have nothing to do with the offer at all, such as a family medical emergency.

      1. Colette*

        That’s the kind of thing you need to explain, though. “I know I said I’d get back to you tomorrow, but I’ve had an unexpected family situation that I need to deal with – can I get back to you on Monday so that I have time to fully consider the offer?”

        It’s not that a week is too long or that you can’t ask for more time if you need it, but how you do it is important.

        Imagine you have been trying to find a day to have lunch with your friend. After a few conversations over a couple of months, you agree on Friday.

        On Thursday, she says “I can’t make it tomorrow – how about Monday?”

        You had something you wanted to do on Monday, but she’s your friend, so you agree. You rearrange your plans, and all is well.

        Now imagine that, instead of your friend, it’s someone who wants to meet you to get insight into your industry. You have no history with her, and no way to know if she’s going to show up on Monday or if she’ll reschedule again. Do you agree?

        1. SpaceySteph*

          I don’t think it really equates to either a friendly or business meeting, because those involve your active participation, not you waiting for a phone call. In this case the active participation is to call Candidate #2 on your list and offer you the job. If you think calling them Monday instead of Friday is a big impact you’re still free to say no, I need to know by Friday. But its not the same thing as getting stood up for lunch. Also in your analogy I have no reason to assume that someone that gave me 24 hours notice they can’t make lunch on Friday would then stand me up with no notice for lunch on Monday.

          I do think if the candidate has extenuating circumstances then they should say that, but I can also see that not every person would want to discuss them and might not be sure what the appropriate level is to disclose and/or whether they should expect prying questions back. And especially people who are newer to the workforce (which presumably you’d know based on having interviewed them for a job) might not understand norms and could be dealt with a bit more charitably in this department.

      2. Avasarala*

        I don’t think it’s ask vs guess so much as if you need someone to do you a favor, like wait a little longer or move a little faster, giving them a reason is more persuasive.

    4. The New Wanderer*

      I think it depends on if the candidate has been given a reasonable amount of time to consider the offer. If a company is giving a candidate 2-3 day to consider an offer, then I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask for another day or two. You can always hold firm on your original deadline and that’s fair too. Unreasonable for the candidate is being given a week and then they ask for another week. Unreasonable for a company is giving 24 hours and then withdrawing the offer when asked for more time. I think OP’s case lands somewhere in the middle.

    5. MissDisplaced*

      Well it IS a game isn’t it?
      Employees have such little bargaining power as it is and employers would try to take even this away.

  8. Senor Montoya*

    Accepting a counteroffer is an extremely common way of getting a raise in academia (especially on the faculty side). Unfortunately. So common, that nobody starts worrying that you are going jump ship, or that you lack loyalty, etc. Everybody knows: if you want to get a (good/better) raise, go on the job market.

    In fact, I have gotten some quite nice raises by *just job searching*. Once a boss told me, “let me know they offer you [before I even had an interview], I’ll offer you more to keep you here.”

    1. Emily K*

      Yep – I had a boss once who was quite candid with me that he’d only ever seen HR approve salary increases above X% when it was a counter-offer to retain someone, so if I wanted to get a raise of $X I needed to bring them an offer from another company. I found it infuriating and most of all, stupid, and my boss didn’t like it either, but he didn’t hold enough sway in the org chart to be able to make a difference. I wouldn’t have worried about raising doubts about my loyalty from bringing in another offer, after having been told point-blank that was what was required to earn a more substantial raise.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yes, but academia is a twisted beast and has different notice rules and expectations than OP’s situation.

      There are a number of practices that strike me as incredibly unprofessional or poorly managed in the academy when compared to the private sector (or even the non-academic public sector). The fact that you have to drum up outside interest to leverage a merit raise or reset is one of those things, as you noted.

    3. Courageous cat*

      There’s other times where it works too. There was one context in which I accepted a counteroffer: my original offer was made by a company who I’d interviewed with prior to working there, so I wasn’t actively job hunting, and my current employer understood that it was simply a matter of money. So they made me a counteroffer of significantly more, and I stayed for quite some time. It was totally fine because they understood my decision was simply pragmatic (not culture or fit or anything) and that I hadn’t been intentionally trying to jump ship.

  9. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    My experience is dated (late 90s and 06), but, anytime I interviewed with a place that needed me to accept right away, to start right away, didn’t give me another day to think, refused to have me start a day later etc., there was always a catch. They had something for me that they wanted me to start working on right away, that was nowhere close to what they’d tell me I’d be working on. In case of one OldJob, they were honest that they had lost several people on their on-call rotation and needed them replaced asap; but that part of my interview went like “how do you feel about being on call?” – “what’s on-call?” – “you are hired!” It’s like all of these employers were afraid I’d come to my senses and decline if given more time to think. So, I don’t know if this still applies in 2019, but back when I was actively changing jobs, not being willing to give a candidate another day would’ve been a red flag.

    1. BRR*

      But they gave the candidate a decent amount of time. Yes, they could have given more. But they didn’t ask for un the spot.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      I think there may be a kernel of truth in this.
      It’s this “Oh you need more time to think about it? You must not WANT it badly enough. So sod off.”

      While unfortunate if OP needed/liked the job, I somehow get the feeling it might be a dodged bullet.

  10. Renee*

    For me a counter offer worked out great, so I must be in the minority. The only reason I wanted to leave my employer was monetary, my manager was great and I got to work from home whenever I wanted (which is an amazing benefit!). However, my managers hands were tied as far as raises went, so I went looking around. I ended up with three offers that were literally double what I was currently making. I told my manager I was planning to leave and he asked if he they could have time to draft up a counter offer. Apparently the only way to get that significant a raise is to either have a complete job title change or to threaten to leave.

    Well they matched the offer the other employers were going to give and I decided to stay. It’s been over a year and I haven’t been kicked to the curb or treated any differently by my manager or co-workers. Everything worked out great! I got to double my salary and keep my work from home benefit!

    Although I only accepted because I knew my boss and I had a good relationship, if I had a more tremulous relationship I probably would have left for one of the other offers. I know my managers character and that their was no way he would try to get rid of me just because I threatened to leave for better pay, he completely understood why I was looking around.

    1. CheeryO*

      My SO pulled off a successful counter-offer negotiation, too. I think in cases where you’re a valuable employee in an objectively underpaid role, it’s not always a bad idea to try, but you definitely have to have a good idea of how management will respond and be willing to jump ship if things go south.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Especially if it is a unique roll and HR ins’t aware of the salary benchmarks. Some professional salaries skyrocket as you gain more experience, like in IT. A small company may have no idea that their $50K IT Tech is worth $80K after a few years experience.

        1. Renee*

          Yep my role is in IT and I started out entry level, but quickly gained a huge amount of skill and experience where I basically doubled my worth in less than 2 years.

    2. pamplemousse*

      This is how counteroffers have mostly worked out at my company — if employees take them, we are genuinely happy that we were able to figure out a way to retain them, and they are usually glad to have figured out a way to stay and get whatever really appealed to them about the new job — so I’m always a little puzzled by why Allison is so down on them.

      But I work in an industry with a lot of turnover that is “talent” dependent, so there’s a lot of recruiting (meaning employees don’t have to be unhappy here in order to get an offer elsewhere) and individual contributors are seen as particularly difficult to replace. Plus we don’t counter every offer. I’ve accepted that we’re definitely an outlier!

      1. MonteCristo85*

        I can’t speak to Alison’s reasons, but I am very against counteroffers because I don’t believe that a company can’t give you an appropriate raise unless you threaten to leave. To me that a symptom of bad management at best, and down right purposely taking advantage of people at worst. I would never even consider one, in fact, I’d be highly insulted if I was given one.

    3. SpaceySteph*

      I’m glad you are happy there, but this is still indicative of problems in the company that the only way to get a raise is to threaten to leave. You could have been making 2x elsewhere so likely you should have been getting raises all along the way, such that you should have been making considerably more for the past 2-3 years at least. And in a few years you’re going to have to pull a similar job search stunt to get another raise you are due.

      1. Renee*

        Well to be fair when I was hired I just graduated with my BS and it was my very first office job out of college. So when they hired me they started me really low in the entry level intern level. But I worked hard and became a database expert at this company; however, because I started at such a low starting wage, the max 5% raises really didn’t do anything for me. And my manager told me the only way for HR to approve a higher raise is through leaving or a job title promotion/change. But at this company it sounds like a LOT of people do this, threaten to leave to get a better raise and it seems like the managers are fine with doing these counteroffers to keep valuable employees. It is crappy management, but the blame falls on the higher up executives and HR for that.

        Either way getting to set my own schedule and work from home 4 days a week is a benefit I don’t see many employers giving. So that is why I accepted the counteroffer.

    4. hbc*

      Well, you’re still working at a company that is comfortable paying half of what you’re worth while it can get away with it, which usually shows up in other ways.

    5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I knew a guy who took a counter-offer and it did wonders for his career. Now here’s the plot twist. I was the next-in-line candidate and him taking the counter-offer put me at the top. They made an offer and I accepted. I worked there six years and my current job is connected to that old one, i.e. I would not have found it if I hadn’t worked at the old one. So it really helped me that the guy took himself out of the running. I ran into him years later (it’s a small world and we turned out to know some of the same people) and he was doing great professionally! Probably better, in fact, than if he’d gone on to work at my old job, that he turned down. He’s the only success story I know. But he’s really good at what he does and he also had career development plans that were not a straightforward line and that his job, that he’d taken the counteroffer from, was better able to accommodate.

    6. Alex*

      I also took a counter offer with no regrets, but in my case, I’d let my current employer know that I was in the process of interviewing (because I had to travel to the interview and take time off of work), and by the time I got an offer, I’d actually decided that the new job wasn’t for me anyway (the offer confirmed that feeling), so I stayed at my job but got a promotion out of it.

    7. Tin Cormorant*

      Chiming in with another positive counter offer story here.

      My husband wanted to move up in his job, and his boss knew this but her hands were tied. He liked his team but felt he was ready for a promotion to manage more of the process himself. He was casually looking and ended up finding a good move up with a significant bump in pay, so he told his boss he was leaving.

      She came back with an even more significant increase in pay (we actually describe the amount of money as “ridiculous”) in addition to the increase in title and responsibilities, AND a huge retention bonus paid immediately.

      Normally we’d say “no thanks” to a counter and move on, but it was just so much money and he got the duties he was wanting and got to stay with the company he likes, so he accepted. Shortly after, his company announced that they were being acquired by another (the higher ups knew, but couldn’t tell him).

      Turns out they offered him so much because having to replace him during a sale could have been impossible and his role is pretty important to that. We don’t mind it because he’ll get an enormous severance at the end and he gets that better title on his resume in the meantime.

  11. Peter*

    From the update, it doesn’t seem to be the case of LW but sometimes candidates seems unable to take a decision and that may impact the decision.

    First they negotiate the starting date, fine. In a second separate request, they negotatiate the starting date, fine again. In a 3rd request, they negotiate for more vacation time. It’s ok, but it would have reflected way better on the candidate to ask all the elements at once instead of one after the other. It would also be more efficient. When looking to hire someone, we are usually really needing this person ASAP. Loosing several days on many different requests might push the employer go to candidate #2. Especially if the perceived difference was not that big.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I was thinking about that as well. Anytime I’ve job searched I have pretty much made up my mind before I receive an offer (if one comes, of course). I know if I want to work for the company based on my research and the interactions I had interviewing. If anything came up in the interviews, like a difference in the job description, then I’ve already considered if those differences make or break the job. I’ve discussed it with my spouse and crunched numbers so I know what salary to accept.
      I work in an area where planning and communication is very important. If I was hiring a candidate that kept dragging out their decision (as long as there weren’t major considerations like relocation) then I would start to question if I made the right choice.

  12. Blue Dog*

    I once made an offer to someone who was out of work on a Monday morning. She asked for two days to think about it. I said, “Sure.” She wrote back on Wednesday late and asked for an additional TWO MONTHS to think about it. I wrote back to clarify this was what she really meant and she said it was. I told her she could have until Friday only as I needed someone and, if she wasn’t interested, I needed to move forward with Candidate B. She agreed to let me know by Friday and then ghosted us. I think we dodged a bullet.

    1. Lance*

      Bullet dodged indeed. I cannot even begin to imagine how someone could think two whole months could possible be acceptable just for them to think about accepting an offer.

      1. Antilles*

        I’m trying to think what you could even spend two months thinking about.
        A job offer is an important decision, a critical decision, one that involves your family and finances and etc…but at the end of the day, it’s still a one-page offer letter with a set number for salary, set list of benefits, etc.
        There’s only so much evaluation you can productively do.

        1. Quill*

          My guess is that she was not actually local yet or was waiting on someone else in the household to get their situation sorted?

      2. SomebodyElse*

        Cynical me… the candidate wanted to ride out unemployment

        Not Cynical me… the candidate had a family issue that would be cleared up in a couple of months.

        1. emmelemm*

          Wow, I think cynical you has a pretty decent explanation. I wouldn’t have considered that, but it could very well be true.

      3. Bratmon*

        Maybe they looked at how long it takes companies to make a decision and assumed it worked the same way on the other side?

    2. Cleo K*

      I can tell you pretty confidently that while I may have been in the wrong for asking for a one business day extension, but I would never expect a company to wait on me for 2 months! Or ghosted a company.. that is completely unprofessional. I have been on the other side of things and been ghosted by a company that told me they were offering a job and calling my references, and they did not even respond to an email when I asked for an update and that definitely placed them low on my totem pole of respect and I would not even consider applying for them again or recommending them to a friend. Ghosting is not ok!

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I wonder if you were the first place that offered her a job and she wanted to keep fishing to see if she got something even better.

      Still, awful behavior and bullet dodged but that’s my best guess over why she’d think to ask for 2 months.

    4. Combinatorialist*

      I have actually been offered two months to think about an offer (I didn’t ask for this time). I didn’t end up needing it but it was appreciated.

      Here’s the situation:
      My partner and I were both graduating school in May. This was like October. The employer was a huge employer where they hire for certain roles on a continuously basis. The department was a team that typically works on tons of short projects — they seek out work based on the number of people currently on the team and their workloads. So there was no active need to fill a position.

      I was their intern over the summer, they knew I wanted to work there and they wanted to hire me. I had been clear from the beginning that my long term future in their city was dependent on my partner’s ability to also get a job nearby. (I had options — I could afford to be upfront about this). So, they gave me two months so that my partner and I could look around for what sort of options he might have in the area. I ended up accepting after about a week.

      I totally get this was an unusual set of circumstances that you can’t normally count on. But if there is a relocation, then a couple months to decide while other family members look for jobs is a real blessing. Impractical definitely, but very helpful. And I understand that two months is not enough time to find a new job usually, but it was a very nice sign of wanting my long term happiness/good fit.

  13. Former Manager*

    Happened to me. Couple years ago, the internal recruiter called me at about 4:45 pm as I was driving to make me an job offer. I said the salary was fine however since I was driving could I call you the next day by 9am as I wanted to speak with my wife to tell her. The recruiter said fine, that would make sense.

    8:30 AM the next morning I receive a voicemail from the recruiter that the offer was pulled. No explanation, wouldn’t return phone calls or email. Just very odd

  14. Anonya*

    Unfortunately, I think it was the second ask that got the offer rescinded. As someone who has been on the hiring side, I completely expect candidates for ask for up to a week to decide. But if they asked for a few days, then come back and ask for a few more, I will strongly suspect that they aren’t really interested and are using *my* position as a bargaining chip. Which is not a great way to start a working relationship.

    1. FindThisVeryInteresting*

      Agreed. Also, there are so many candidates ghosting, accepting and then taking counters, asking for super long pre-hire phases, etc. that many hiring managers are getting a little gun shy on candidates that don’t appear super enthusiastic.

      I don’t know what field OP is in, but I am in data & tech and competition is so fierce that any indication of hesitancy normally means we’re going to lose the candidate despite top percentile pay and benefits. (and that’s not opinion, our comp team reviews pay scales constantly and we get more than 5 weeks vacay in the US!)

      Plus, the average time it takes to fill a job in increasing for competitive markets/industries and when you’ve spent 6+ mos. trying to hire, you don’t want to be waiting on the candidate. Trust me, once an offer is made, the employer is as eager as the candidate was during the hiring process.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      It’s not always a bargaining chip, but if you’ve been interviewing a lot, you may have multiple offers. Unfortunately, they don’t all come in at the same time!
      Employers play the same game and keep candidates on the hook too.

  15. AndersonDarling*

    Something else to consider is the job level. If it was an entry level role then I would expect the candidate to know if they want the job fairly quickly. I’d assume that they were seriously thinking about the role after the last interview and considering how the job would balance with their personal life and finances. Once they are told a salary, they can take a day or two to crunch numbers, but then have an answer.
    But if it is an executive role where the candidate needs to balance a reputation, salary, stock options, contracts, and all the messiness, then asking for an extension wouldn’t be a surprise.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Definitely the level is a factor. I wouldn’t expect entry level jobs to need a week or more to think about it. For mid-level career jobs, a week seems to be about the maximum you can reasonably ask for, and executive level (and maybe academic jobs) can probably expect up to two weeks to decide as it seems some travel may be involved post-offer.

      I find it difficult to imagine needing a month or more to think about an offer(!) but it may be the case for some industries or if you’re C-suite.

  16. Do I need a hard hat for this?*

    Some of the comments on this discussion sound like poor Mr. Molesley’s storyline on Downton Abbey. First he worked in the big house, then he was given a promotion to work for Matthew, then when **SPOILER ALERT** Matthew died he was out of a job. Mr. Carson offered him another job at the big house, but it would have been a demotion. Mr. Molesley asked for some time to think about it and Mr. Carson rescinded the offer! He thought Mr. Molesley should be chomping at the bit to take the job, but Mr. Molesley wanted time to consider what taking a lower position would mean for him.

    Poor, poor Mr. Molesley. Heart of gold, but a string of bad luck. (Don’t worry, things turn out well for him in the end.)

      1. LQ*

        I feel like that would be some pretty hardcore promotion for it? It really seems to relate to the content of the post. I don’t watch the show but I kind of like the idea that they hired a bunch of people to comment on random ENTIRELY unrelated blogs, but not just random comments, ones really tailored to the blog and the audience. (I want to read some of the others to see now…)

        1. pentamom*

          Plus that would be a weird amount of effort for a show that ended four years ago. Yeah, I know the movie’s out, but this is season four of the show, from early 2014.

        2. londonedit*

          If Downton Abbey have done it then the US Office certainly have as well – I’ve never even seen the US version but I know all about it thanks to this site, because every time there’s a post with wacky boss behaviour everyone goes ‘OMG! Is your boss Michael Scott??’

  17. Cleo K*

    Also, just wanted to say:
    Thank you Alison for starting this blog, and thank you commenters for providing insight! This is really helpful moving forward. This incident happened about 2 years ago, as of now I am in a job in a completely different state and company than the other two, so it ended up working out in the end. But this has been eye opening and a great learning experience for moving forward. I did not consider how my request would be perceived by the company or HR, or how uncommon it is to ask for an extension. Now I know how to move forward if I do want a longer amount of time ton consider a job offer.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Thank you for writing in with the experience! I can absolutely see myself in my early career doing exactly the same thing because I didn’t have the perspective of the hiring side of things. One little, innocent communication can be interpreted into something much bigger!

      1. Cleo K*

        Exactly, this was my first “job offer” after grad school besides the temp job, so I was pretty new to navigating negotiations, offers, etc. Luckily I learned a lot from the experience and it worked out in the end.

  18. Sleepy*

    Man. My sister received a counter offer that was $20k above her salary plus another $10k bonus if she stayed an additional 6 months.

    She ended up staying another year. She seemed happy enough with the raise. But I couldn’t believe they were apparently underpaying her by so much prior. If she was worth the money when she threatened to leave, then she was always worth that much. She was also the highest ranked woman in the company. Coincidence…?

    1. Not sayin'*

      I worked for a company whose (open) policy was to counter-offer every time. The IT guy there was making tons of money, because he hated working there and often sought other jobs. Every time, the President countered, and every time the IT guy accepted. They now had a very expensive IT guy who hated his job, and somehow that made them happy.

      As a side note, this IT guy eventually was paid so much money that nobody could match his pay. Every time his (hated) boss would increase his pay, he’d go out and rack up debt. Ultimately he was basically stuck — couldn’t afford to leave.

    2. Courageous cat*

      I dunno, I had this same situation and I personally don’t think they were underpaying me originally. I think I was paid what I was worth for that position, but their counteroffer was much higher because by the time I’d been working there for a while, they saw a lot of promise in me as an employee.

      So it wasn’t that I was getting underpaid before, it was more that I was getting drastically overpaid after, in the hopes that it would have convinced me to stay and move up the ranks and do some good stuff I guess.

  19. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    My partner had an offer rescinded because he wasn’t “enthusiastic enough”. It was a blessing, if someone is going to be that fast to kick you to the curb, they aren’t someone you want to work for.

    But yes, sometimes things that are normal to ask for, time to think about the offer and heaven forbid you try to negotiate salary, will get an offer yanked by places that are cruddy on the inside. Or perhaps they have just a cruddy manager in place of course, you never know exactly if it’s a company wide thing or a bad apple you stumbled over.

    It’s that unfair side of the job search and working in general.

    I hope that at least you can take the counter offer and not say that you got the other job rescinded. They don’t need to know…

    1. Joie*

      I once had an offer pulled because they asked me last minute to come in and shadow for an hour before the written offer but I was working the merchandise swap shift that day at my job and had left my house already for the day (hr plus away from my work). This was last minute, it was like 10:30 am and they wanted me there at 11 am type last minute. I told them I wouldn’t be able to go home and change before coming so I was wearing clothes I don’t mind getting ruined due to the hard labour shift so maybe not today and they told me it was fine, they’ve seen how I usually look and to please come in anyway

      Surprise surprise, the offer got pulled because I “didn’t seem enthusiastic enough based on how I was dressed at the shadow” (insert eye rolling emoji here) but I I dodged a bullet on that one, apparently in the last 3 years not one person has stayed over 4 months in that role.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Oh I really do appreciate when weird priority employers like that opt out.

        My partner was originally just a bit in shock that it happened and was stressed anyways because he was between jobs. I was like “We don’t want any of those apples anyways. I hear they have worms.” and the job that did work out is for you people who aren’t you know…jackholes. win/win!

  20. Mommie.MD*

    I think that a few days to consider a job offer is enough if you are truly seeking a new position. Asking for a delay after being given the better part of a work week may look like you’re lukewarm about accepting. Especially with a temp job, they probably need someone asap. Good luck with the job hunt.

  21. H000t*

    Hey letter writer, You’re definitely the best person to know if a counter offer made sense to consider. Hopefully, it will be worth your while. This can be a chance at improving your work relationships if you turn it that way. I think the slight head wag/pursed lip reaction here is a little silly. Good for you and best of luck!

  22. Introvert girl*

    I’m always fascinated how an employer needs three months to evaluate if you’re the right person for the job but you have to decide in a couple of days. I once just e-mailed a company after the third month of talks and tests to say that in a week I would probably be signing a contract somewhere else and if they were still interested. I got an offer two days later.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      But that’s not what it is! The whole time the company is evaluating you and deciding about you, you’re supposed to be evaluating them as well. Your consideration isn’t supposed to start just when you get the offer.

    2. LQ*

      You should have been deciding from the day you applied for the job. You aren’t a passive observer in the process. You can and should be an active participant deciding all along the way continually making decisions about if you wanted to go onto the next step.
      Employer: Owns opening the job
      Applicant: Owns applying for the job
      Employer and Applicant: both can say no at any point in the process
      Employer: Owns extending offer
      Applicant: Owns accepting offer

  23. JJ*

    I’m a little surprised at the response – taking a job is a big deal, and a company should want a person to take as much time as they need to make sure the decision is right for them. If there are reasons the company needs an answer sooner, that’s fine – but say that, say no to an extension, but don’t use it as an excuse to pull a job offer from someone who is trying to be conscientious about making sure the job is a good fit for them.

    This honestly makes me think the OP dodged a bullet – over-reacting to reasonable requests would be a red flag against working for this company in the first place, at least in my book.

    (Also it’s not like she waited until the last second to ask for more time – she asked a full day early, even though Allison seems to imply it was the same day in her response.)

    1. Librarian of SHIELD*

      As a person who used to be a hiring manager, I did want people to take the time they needed to make sure the job was right for them. But by the time I was extending an offer, I had usually been juggling the responsibilities of a vacant position for around 6-8 weeks, so I also really wanted a light at the end of the tunnel for myself and my staff. So a person asking for a few days to consider, sure, yes, think this through as best you can. But a second request would definitely have put a bad taste in my mouth.

      I wouldn’t have pulled an offer at a second request for more time, but I also probably wouldn’t have granted the request.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is another one of those times that we’re seeing the balance of power in play, since it’s very much always the employer who’s in the power position. They’re invested in their business in the end. A person you’re still pretty much strangers with is easy to cut loose if you are having any kind of questions about.

      As a hiring manager, who deals with other hiring managers with their own POVs, I see it from multiple angles and lenses here. I agree, I dislike and don’t offer anyone who I’m not excited about. But I’m hiring for different positions than others. When my shop manager hires, he seriously doesn’t know until someone shows up. It’s also a role that people are used to being hired on the spot for, so when we have went back and called a #2 candidate, they’re long gone. So that one day is actually pretty big in that case. We wouldn’t give a shop position that extra day either but we aren’t jerks, we do give people the respect they deserve with a reason why we’re not doing it. “We need to have an answer by the agreed upon time or we have to keep our options open.”

      I echo Librarian of Shield here, that vacant position has been open much longer than the interview process and it’s been covered by who knows what. So we need someone in here learning it at least because learning doesn’t happen over night. So every day is precious in that sense.

      Often the interview process is so long and tedious because we’re doing our own jobs, plus picking up slack from the vacancy and hiring at the same time. The forever juggling act of keeping everything moving at once.

  24. Anonymous at a University*

    Yeah, unfortunately I think it was probably the second ask and suspicions of a counteroffer that made them pull it. I was given three days to think it over at my offer for the faculty job I hold now; that was explicitly in the e-mail. I accepted, and when I got here, I asked the first person I got to know well on the admin side of things why the three days language was spelled out. She explained that they’d had a bunch of people in the past ask for “more time” to consider an offer, where “more time” for them meant anywhere from an hour to three weeks, and that the majority of the people who asked for the longest time would then demand a second extension after the three weeks (or whatever) had passed. The university got tired of it and set a mandated deadline.

    Sorry it went that way, though, OP.

    1. Em Dee*

      From my tangential exposure to academia, 3 days seems really short for a decision, especially since for faculty offers it seemed like universities would also fly out the candidate and their family / key stakeholders to try to woo them after the offer was made. Plus, it’s not unusual for people to negotiate offers, and sending it from the dept chair to the dean and waiting to hear back (which may require a committee meeting) would take time.

      1. Anonymous at a University*

        I’d already been flown out for an interview at that point (as well as had two interviews over Skype/phone), and met all of the search committee, the Dean, and a good majority of the other faculty as well as the admin people who work for our department. I’ve actually never talked to anyone who’s been flown out for the first time AFTER the offer was made, and never anyone who’s had the university pay for their family to fly out, either. (That would actually come across as really weird to me; almost all the faculty jobs I’ve applied to have asked about willingness to relocate in the application itself, so the idea that someone would have to be “wooed” to move after the offer was made, and also that their family would have to be wined and dined because otherwise they’d be frantically resisting, is super odd). That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, but it doesn’t seem usual.

        1. Em Dee*

          The initial flying-out was for the candidate to interview (and meet everyone). The subsequent flying-out was after the offer was made and was for the candidate, partner, their kids, whatever. There might have been some bias in terms of making offers to candidates with stay-at-home spouses (usually men) vs candidates with two-body problems (men and women), but universities still hire plenty from the latter group. No one is “frantically resisting,” but if you have a two-body problem, a university would be wise to address it.

          As for it being unusual for universities to “woo” family members, they’re often willing to go further than that: While there’s no outright guarantee that universities would also get the trailing spouse a job, they could facilitate, and if the trailing partner is also an academic, there’s a mechanism for spousal hires as well (although all relevant departments would need to be in agreement). I’m basing this on more than just one field, and I’ve seen blog posts about spousal hires and the two-body problem too.

  25. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

    As a person who has interviewed and hired many employees, I always want to hire someone who really wants the job. I would have definitely gotten a sense of “meh” from this person. However, I think that rather than rescinding the offer, I would have said, “No, I’m sorry, we really need an answer no later than Friday.” If the candidate was waiting on information from us in order to make his decision, I would hope he would say so.

  26. CB212*

    But it also sounds like OP didn’t make two asks at all – on Tuesday the company asked them to decide by Friday, and on Thursday OP asked for the weekend. That’s not the same as OP naming a date and then trying to extend it. Obviously that doesn’t change the narrative result, but it doesn’t strike me as terribly sneaky to try to add room to a quite short turnaround on their end.

    1. SomebodyElse*

      The OP accepted the first date (Friday) by not asking for an extension at that time. Then as the deadline approached they asked for an extension.

      In this case the OP was actively negotiating another position so it was a bit disingenuous. It’s the equivalent of agreeing to go to the movies at 7 with someone, and then at 6 suggesting a later showing in hopes that you get invited to the big party.

    2. Librarian of SHIELD*

      The way I read it was not that the company said “we are offering you the job, let us know if you accept by X date.” I understood it as the company laid out the offer, OP asked for a few days to consider and was given a deadline. That would have been the first request for time to consider. So the email on the day before the deadline would be the second request.

      I’ve actually never had a job offer that included time to consider. I’ve never been turned down when I asked for time, but it’s not something anyone’s ever offered me of their own accord.

  27. Em Dee*

    I don’t usually comment but I just wanted to express my shock from seeing all the comments that 3-5 days for a decision is normal. From the few industries I’ve been exposed to, usually when people go on the job market, they’d apply to multiple places and desirable job candidates would have multiple offers to compare (and negotiate between) before making a decision. Even “exploding offers” would typically give at least a week to make a decision. For at least one of these industries, it’s normal (after giving a job offer) for the prospective employer to arrange to fly out the candidate and key stakeholders to visit with other staff and to check out the location. Sone would even arrange for realtor tours. All this takes time, especially since you’re coordinating between multiple people with different jobs.

    I think for all the industries, it would be a major red flag if a place only gave you 3 days to decide and then pulled the offer if you asked for more time (instead of at least replying that it was a hard deadline). Word gets around, and it would not be looked upon favorably within professional circles. There was a huge controversy in the blogosphere when a job candidate tried to negotiate and had her offer pulled as a result; I imagine this would be similar.

    1. Emily K*

      Without knowing which industries you’re thinking of, one difference that stands out to me is you mention one of the industries will fly out candidates who they’ve made an offer to – that already signals that this industry operates outside of common norms. In most industries, hiring is done locally and if a candidate living elsewhere wants to apply, any travel or relo costs are their own responsibility. There are a few industries that do recruit nationwide and will cover travel costs, and I can see why those logistics would lead to longer offer times – because they can’t actually make a decision until after the travel has been completed, there are still steps left in the information gathering process, it’s not just that they’re sitting with the decision mentally – but that would be outside the norm for most companies.

      (In fact, out of town candidates are often advised to leave their address off their resume or specifically explain in their cover letter that they’re planning to relocate on their own accord, because some hiring managers will put out of town candidates at the bottom of the pile, figuring that interviewing them is going to be more of a challenge and might have to be over Skype, or the candidate might want travel/relo assistance that the company can’t afford to offer, or there’s a risk the candidate might go all the way through the process and then change their mind about wanting to move and back out, so they’ll only contact someone out of town if there aren’t enough good candidates locally to fill an interview schedule.)

      This company was definitely being petty and childish to just yank the offer instead of just telling the candidate they couldn’t give them more time, but it really is quite common in the majority of jobs to only take a few day to decide on an offer once you have received the compensation package details – if you’re a strong candidate you can probably get a company to extend that time to a week or so if you explain why you need the extra time. As I think was noted elsewhere upthread, one big consideration is that the company can’t reject the other candidates until they know for certain their first choice has accepted the offer, and if you keep those candidates on hold for multiple weeks they are very likely to either 1) accept another offer in the meantime or 2) think that the company is ghosting them (because no manager really wants to send candidates an email that says, “You’re not our first choice, but if you wait 2-3 weeks that person might say no and then we’ll be in touch,” so they hold off sending any email until they get an answer from the first choice).

      1. Em Dee*

        Is there a difference even within industries in terms of norms for trainees/students applying to post-graduation jobs vs people already well established in the working world who are switching jobs? Because I can’t imagine telling people who are close to graduating that they can only entertain one offer at a time and they have to reply within 3-5 days, and I thought AAM has given very different advice regarding “first jobs” as well.

    2. A*

      It sounds like a very specific set of industries. Especially flying candidates out and exposing them to internal processes etc. prior to them signing a job offer. That would violate every NDA I’ve even worked under, and it making me twitch just thinking about it!

      1. Em Dee*

        I’m confused what you’re referring to. There’s no internal processes they’re getting exposed to just from meeting with other staff, going out for meals together, and going on a realtor tour. These are also all things that anyone can arrange on their own.

  28. CM*

    Yeah, but even if these are the reasons the company pulled the offer, the polite way to do it was to say, “I’m sorry but we really need the response by tomorrow, or we’ll have to move on to other candidates,” not to pull it immediately.

    1. Goofy*

      But it wasn’t that they needed the response by tomorrow OR they would move on — the very fact that OP asked for more time made them decide to move on. They weren’t obligated to give her another chance.

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