When Is An Offer Not An Offer?
I received an email from a woman who was “elated about an offer for employment for a long awaited job opportunity.” She’d been looking for a while and hadn’t been having much luck. Despite her elation, she went with her instinct and turned down the offer.

They’d been “sweating” her about coming in for training while she was working notice on her current job. She felt she needed to have fully resigned one job before she began another. They countered with they needed to train her before she started with them.

She wrote, because she wasn’t sure she’d made the right decision. I told her she absolutely had made the right decision and applauded her for making it. It takes guts to turn down an offer when you want a new job badly, even if you’re employed.

That wasn’t a job offer. It was “sort of” an offer. It was a dangling carrot. “Don’t quit your job yet because we want to see if we actually like you before you start, and if we don’t, then you won’t actually be starting, and you’ll still have a job.”

Later she emailed me again. They’d been calling and “pestering” her. She wanted to know how to handle it. Not coincidentally, in this email she wrote “this company is also known for its high turnover due to its unpleasant working environment.” So perhaps they didn’t want her to quit because they realized she might quit them first, rather than what I’d initially surmised.

No matter. Either way, it would have been a losing proposition for her to accept it. Even if she’d made it through the transition she’d have been there just a few months, and having left her current job...where would she be? Nowhere.

So in answer to the pestering lady question, here’s what I advised:

Don’t give in or second guess yourself - stick with your original decision! Just say “Thank you very much but I’ve decided to withdraw myself from consideration. I’m no longer interested.”

If she calls again, repeat the message, but start with “As I said last time we spoke (etc)...”

And if she calls a third time, then it’s time to get a little...not rude or nasty, but certainly emphatically insistent. “As I’ve told you twice, I am no longer interested in working with your company. My decision is final. Please do not call me again as I will not ever change my mind.”
Gotta be FIRM. Not apologetic, not “nice.” Just firm. It’s a FIRM statement. No room for debate. As far as I’m concerned, if she calls a fourth time, just hang up on her!

My point being, that at the point, the one who wasn’t getting it was the pestering lady and her invasive behavior. If she hadn’t understood and respected the message by then, she probably wasn’t going to. So why not save your breath and your energy?

For those of you who might not have gone that route and worried about who knows you and who they know and if it would affect a job somewhere else and what about references and will it have an adverse effect, save your worrying. The possibility of that is slim. And quite frankly, anyone that knows this company and is worth working for (small things telling!), would probably call you precisely because you handled it as you did.