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My brother is a software development engineer interviewing to switch jobs and finally got an offer from a company in a different city. He was given the offer Tuesday at noon, and asked to respond by Friday morning which I think is not enough time considering he would have to relocate.

Now they are asking for him to provide a written statement that he has pulled out of all other interview processes before extending the official offer letter, despite him being ready to accept.

He doesn't know which terms will be in the offer letter so he's a bit skeptical. Is this normal practice or should we see something fishy here?

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    It seems very fishy, as though they know there will be something in the written offer that would make him likely to reject it if he has a choice. – Patricia Shanahan Jan 17 at 17:35
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    The request to withdraw other applications was discussed here: Job offer without any details but asking me to withdraw other applications - is it normal? – Igor G Jan 17 at 20:02
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    Why would they expect him to pull out of other interview processes if they know he's still trying to decide what job to accept? If he hasn't decided where he wants to work yet, why would he do that? That's what you do after you decide to accept an offer, not before! – David Schwartz Jan 18 at 7:26
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    Honest question: given the answers confirming that this is a "fishy"/bad faith negotiating tactic, would it be ethical and practical to simply reply with a "Yes, I can confirm that I have pulled out of all other interviews" without actually having done so. Then he can still negotiate the terms of any offer that may come. – user2705196 Jan 18 at 19:50
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    I don't understand the question. It say "He was given the offer Tuesday noon". But yet "before giving him any offer letter". How can he be given an offer but not given an offer? Are there different types of offers? – Buge Jan 19 at 7:31
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Have him send a letter saying that, upon acceptance of any offer proffered, he is officially out of any other processes. Turn the tables on them and see what happens.

They're trying to put themselves in the position that your brother has to take what they offer. Put it right back on them.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Neo Jan 20 at 16:15
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You asked,

Is this normal practice or should we see something fishy here?

That's an easy question: You should see something fishy here.

The recruiter is clearly trying to trap your brother. If he actually does back out of all other hiring processes, he will have zero options. The recruiter's offer will be his only choice. He will be more likely to accept bad terms because he will be desperate.

Of course, none of us can tell your brother what to do, but dropping out of other hiring processes before even knowing the terms of an offer, and then telling the recruiter you did that is a great way to set yourself up for getting taken advantage of. Unless your brother is quite literally desperate and willing to accept anything then he is probably better off continuing to look for other opportunities and ignoring this recruiter.

As an option, he could try telling the recruiter that he won't do that, and see if the recruiter will give him the offer anyways. But it's likely this recruiter is scamming other candidates at the same time and will be happy to just move on to someone more gullible.

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    The way to get him to drop other offers is to make him an offer he can't refuse. – JeffC Jan 19 at 4:04
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    @JeffC perhaps the recruiter should contact the godfather – JorgeeFG Jan 19 at 17:40
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    What @JeffC writes is actually correct. The only reason to drop out of all other offers is when you have signed a contract, not before and not for other reasons. – Tom Jan 19 at 20:45
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    @JeffC this recruiter seems to have found the other way round - if he drops all other offers, he won't be able to refuse mine. – mgarciaisaia Jan 20 at 11:15
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Is this normal practice or should we see something fishy here?

No, and yes.

He was given the offer Tuesday noon and asked to respond Friday morning

This is known as an 'exploding offer' and is almost always a red flag if the deadline provided doesn't have a clear rationale*. In most cases, job negotiations don't have real deadlines, and the only purpose of this is to pressure the candidate into accepting an offer they aren't fully happy with in order to avoid the supposed risk of being left with nothing.

It's a real 'used car salesman' recruitment tactic and any company that uses it should be avoided.

they are asking for him to give in writing that he has pulled out of all other interview processes before giving him any offer

This confirms it - an equally arbitrary ask with the same goal of forcing the candidate into a corner where they must accept whatever offer is given or leave with nothing, having forfeited their other better options.

* Legitimate rationales might include, for example, when the start date aligns with publicly known external deadlines tied to a project, if it's a huge organisation that recruits certain positions in batches, or if there are candidates waiting behind you in a queue to receive an offer if you don't make a decision. But when it's legit, it'll be so obvious as to not look suspicious. If you have to ask if it's suspicious, it almost certainly is.

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    Most companies I have dealt with gave me some kind of a deadline to accept the offer because if I turned them down, they need to move on to other candidates in some reasonable timeframe. This should not be a red flag. Also... "always" and "with exceptions"? You are contradicting yourself. How do you know if the deadline is arbitrary? How would OP? I think it would be better phrased as "... can be a red flag..." and leave it at that. Now... to the main question should OP's brother back out of all other offers to get this one? THAT is really weird at best and red flag at worst. – JeffC Jan 19 at 4:02
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    @JeffC Thanks for the helpful comment - you raise good points and I've edited the wording - by arbitrary I really meant 'without rationale' and always was of course hyperbole. I also added your example, which is a good one, to the list of examples of good rationales for a deadline on an offer. – davnicwil Jan 19 at 9:38
  • @davnicwil but even in legitimate deadlines it's rare to get a single day ... that really seems more like the usual sales pitch from shady sellers to hint a high demand (when in reality the product was hogging the storage for like years) ... So this doesn't only look like a red flag, It is one by all means – eagle275 Jan 20 at 9:43
  • @eagle275 Totally agree, that's what I was trying to get at with my 'obvious' qualifier. At the end of the day you can usually judge these things intuitively. It's hard to define precisely what legitimate means here but when you see it, you'll know. – davnicwil Jan 20 at 9:51
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This is known as an exploding offer.

So what should you do if you receive an exploding offer?

Exploding offers are anathema to your ability to effectively navigate the labor market. Thus, there is only one thing to do. Treat the offer as a non-offer unless the expiration window is widened.

In no uncertain terms, convey that if the offer is exploding, it’s useless to you.

Example conversation:

I have one big concern. You mentioned that this offer explodes in 48 hours. I’m afraid this doesn’t work at all for me. There’s no way that I can make a decision on this offer within a 48 hour window. I’m currently wrapping up my interview process at a few other companies, which is likely to take me another week or so. So I’m going to need more time to make an informed decision.

If they push back and say this is the best they can do, then politely reply:

That’s really unfortunate. I like [YOUR COMPANY] and was really excited about the team, but like I said, there’s no way I can consider this offer. 48 hours just too unreasonable of a window. The next company I join will be a big life decision for me, and I take my commitments very seriously. I also need to consult with my [EXTERNAL_DECISION_MAKER]. There’s no way that I can make a decision I’m comfortable with in this short an amount of time.

Pretty much any company will relent at this point. If they persist, don’t be afraid to walk away over it. (They probably won’t let that happen, and will come grab you as you’re walking out the door. But if they don’t, then honestly, screw ‘em.)

I was given several exploding offers during my job search. And every time, I did essentially this. Every single offer immediately widened to become more reasonable, sometimes by several weeks.

I want to emphasize, lest I be misunderstood here—what I’m saying is not to just silently let an exploding offer expire, and assume that everything will be fine and they’ll still hire you. They won’t. For exploding offers to be a credible weapon, a company has to have a reputation of enforcing them. I’m saying explicitly call this out as an issue when they make the offer.

Don’t let a company bully you into giving away your negotiating power.

...

https://haseebq.com/my-ten-rules-for-negotiating-a-job-offer/

But this is even far worse than an exploding offer.

Never accept an offer by itself. A verbal offer is worth nothing. The same goes for a written offer. What he needs is an actual written contract with things like actual start date, salary details, relocation package, details of benefits, etc.

If he makes a one-way commitment without making them commit to anything in return, he makes himself look super desperate, he removes the urgency to lock him in as a candidate, he incentivizes them to delay the final contract for as long as they can, and he frees them to explore other potential candidates in the meantime. At the same time, by signing such a promise, that neutralizes his ability to negotiate, so it allows them to potentially reduce the salary and reduce the benefits they were originally willing to give him. This is in addition to their exploding offer strategy, which reduces the decision time frame and which reduces his ability to receive competing offers. In short, it's an all-around very bad idea for the candidate.

And one last thing, you said a "headhunter"? Do you mean to say that the person is a 3rd party recruiter? If he's negotiating with a 3rd party recruiter, he's negotiating with the wrong party. He should contact the company directly. By negotiating through a 3rd party, any promise/concession made by the headhunter can easily be reneged on because the employer can just claim that the headhunter was not authorized to make such a promise/concession in the first place. But of course, the reverse won't be true, you can be assured that all the promises/concessions made by the candidate to that 3rd party will be remembered and noted down and could potentially be held against him by the new employer (even potentially in a court of law). So it's not only a waste of time negotiating with a 3rd party headhunter, but it can only hurt the candidate to do so as well.

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    +1 on everything except the last paragraph. It is very likely that the recruiter is not revealing the company name at this stage, so you can't go around him to the company directly. – Tom Jan 19 at 20:47
  • @Tom, Are you implying that he was given a verbal offer, but that he hasn't been interviewed by the client company yet? – Stephan Branczyk Jan 19 at 20:56
  • The OP isn't clear on that, but I would not be surprised if the recruiter keeps the secret as long as possible. – Tom Jan 19 at 21:02
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    @Tom, Well, he does say "he finally got a job offer from a company in a different city." And receiving a job offer usually implies an interview from the client company. – Stephan Branczyk Jan 19 at 21:08
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It is not acceptable. Just say "No, I'm sorry I won't be able to provide such documents".

You can then add "I'm looking forward to reviewing the offer details and expect to accept it". And even some factual bit " I'm really excited about project X and technology Y."

But if they won't extent an offer, you don't want to turn down other opportunities.

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    This is definitely the right approach. If the offer is even remotely legitimate, they will send an offer letter. If it isn't legit, he hasn't lost anything. – DaveG Jan 18 at 15:22
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    I would be very careful about saying anything like "...and expect to accept it." I would say something more along the lines of I really enjoyed the interview, learning about the company, the job (etc.) and eagerly await the offer. – JeffC Jan 19 at 20:48
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Since this is very fishy, I would be wondering where this requirement comes from: From the company, or from the recruiter?

For a company, it doesn't make any sense. If I'm having interviews with four companies, I'm going to accept the best offers. If company A tells me I have to stop negotiating with B, C and D to even see A's offer, I then have the choice to take the offer from A blindly, or the best of B, C and D's offer - obviously I will take the best of the other three. And after getting offers from B, C and D, I might call A and invite them to make a better offer. The company doesn't win here. For a dodgy recruiter, it makes a lot more sense.

So instead of rejecting the recruiter, I'd contact the company, tell them what you were asked to do, and tell them that you are interested in an offer from them but will not stop pulling out of the interview process elsewhere. There is a good chance that the company didn't know anything about this, is completely surprised by it, and very, very unhappy with the agency. If they are sneaky and do things the right way, they might end up hiring you without paying the recruiter, which would be a win-win situation for everyone except the recruiter.

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Is it normal for headhunters to ask for written confirmation that candidate is pulling out of other interview processes before giving offer letter?

Not at all, ant it might even be illegal. It goes against the concept of a free-market (the jobs market, that is).

You might want to beat them with their own weapons:

As per your request, I hereby guarantee that you can be safely consider me pulled out of all other interview processes as soon as I receive from you a written statement that you have cancelled all started recruiting / interview processes, and you guarantee that you will not start any other new interview / recruiting processes before our cooperation is finished, either by employment, or by mutually agreed cancellation.

Sarcasm apart, this is not a company to be trusted, and I am afraid to think how they (will) treat their employees, if they are so highly unethical even before they are sure of anything (before a contract is signed).

Even if your brother does not yet have any other employment alternative, I would still recommend him to not continue communication with this company.


He was given the offer Tuesday noon and asked to respond Friday morning

This might have some good explanation. I know cases from my previous jobs, when new colleagues were hired just in time for them to go to business-trips abroad for trainings. Any longer thinking time would have meant for them missing the opportunity for the training.

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Rhetorical question (something to consider and maybe try): What happens if your brother says to the recruiter that he has withdrawn from all other job searches, but then doesn't actually do that? The same way as the company can say "we will give you an offer if you do this" and then they can choose to not field an offer, or field a bad offer that would be unacceptable, your brother should be able to double-cross them as well by saying he's done what they've asked but not actually do it.

This would be my suggestion. He should write them the letter as requested and say he has dropped out of other recruitment activities, but not actually do as such. Then if the offer comes back and is unacceptable and/or the negotiations with regards to salary etc go poorly, then he can just say "thanks bye" and forget it (do not tell the recruiter at any time that he's double-crossed them, that's a bad look, just say "thanks I don't like this offer I'd rather continue searching bye").

Unlike what others suggest, the Friday deadline on a Tuesday offer is not particularly unreasonable. Most companies I've received offers from gave me only 48 hours to accept, because "they have other people in the pipeline" (or at least they claimed to be so). Your brother has had ample time throughout the interview process to determine if he wants to relocate for this position, so I don't think the timeline is unreasonable. As I see it, the only reason he should want to reject the offer is because the offer is unreasonable, not because relocation is unreasonable; if relocation is the issue he really should have thought about that weeks or months ago while the recruitment process was still ongoing.

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  • Imagine you really want to buy a car from a stranger before someone else buys it. So you say to yourself, I'll run to my bank to get a cashier's check, I'll own that car in two hours top. But then, the stranger tells you: "Don't worry. I'm not going to show it to anyone else." Suddenly, you don't feel that same sense of urgency anymore. You're going to take a few days, instead of a couple of hours. In fact, this can be your backup car and you're going to look at other cars in the meantime. In other words, that guy may have accidentally talked himself out of a sale. Do not be that guy... – Stephan Branczyk Jan 21 at 2:01
  • (continued) Do not ever make a one-way commitment without getting a firm commitment in return. A contract is a two-way commitment, not just a one-way commitment. Do not ever give a decision without seeing the final contract first. An offer doesn't count. – Stephan Branczyk Jan 21 at 2:03
  • @StephanBranczyk What I am saying is to tell them he is going to give them what they want (for him to drop out of other recruiting activities) but then not actually do it. He is giving up nothing, and taking their offer of an offer. Then if he doesn't like the offer, he can and should reject it. I don't understand your comment because you are saying the same thing I am. – Ertai87 Jan 21 at 19:19
  • No, lying will only work against you. In my scenario, the person selling the car is supposed to be the jobhunter. Do you understand? Have you read my other answer? It's located here: workplace.stackexchange.com/a/151483/14577 Please read it. I suspect you will understand it if you fully read it. – Stephan Branczyk Jan 22 at 10:40

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