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It was hard to make the title accurately represent the question, so please read the following:

In October I was given my first (and, at the time, only) job offer at company A. I was told I had until mid November to accept it.

Later on I interviewed at my absolute #1 choice company, company B. They didn't get back to me for weeks, and my deadline with A was approaching, so I asked A for an extension. They gave me another few weeks, until yesterday.

My problem is what happened between getting my extension with A and yesterday. I will note out in chronological order exactly what happened:

  1. Friday, November 20. B got back to me with a phone call, in which they said they were giving me an offer. They told me the position, salary, benefits, start date, the whole buffet. My memory is fuzzy because I was so ecstatic, but on the phone he told me I'd get the offer letter by the end of the day.
  2. End of day Nov 20, no offer letter. The deadline with A draws nearer.
  3. Because of the weekend I wait until Monday 23rd to ask when I might expect the official offer letter. They say because of Thanksgiving, I'd "likely get it early next week." Next week being this week.
  4. December 1st, my deadline with A, passes. I couldn't get another extension, so I lost that offer.
  5. Today, Wed the 2nd, I email the recruiter politely asking when I might expect an update, and explaining about my expiring offer with A. I figured Wednesday was after "early in the week." I send that email around noon, giving them plenty of time in the workday to respond, but got nothing.

So that's it. I guess now my questions begin.

(But first, don't assume I've been nagging them or emailing them constantly about it -- that might seem so when shown in chronological form like this, but so far I only asked them about it once on the day of the offer and then again almost two weeks later, both times politely, and after their own missed deadlines).

So here are my questions:

  • How much should I freak out? How likely is it that a very reputable corporation, which must be very good at hiring, makes such a big mistake they delay the offer letter almost two weeks after telling the candidate about the offer? How likely is it that I'm in a situation in which they drop the verbal offer they gave me?

  • What goes on behind the scenes at huge companies like this that might delay the letter so long?

  • What would you have done in my shoes, with Offer A expiring, and a verbal offer from B on the table, given that B could give out no further extensions?

Sorry for being wordy, thanks for reading.

closed as off-topic by Lilienthal, Dawny33, AndreiROM, gnat, IDrinkandIKnowThings Dec 3 '15 at 22:28

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions asking for advice on what to do are not practical answerable questions (e.g. "what job should I take?", or "what skills should I learn?"). Questions should get answers explaining why and how to make a decision, not advice on what to do. For more information, click here." – Lilienthal, Dawny33, AndreiROM, gnat, IDrinkandIKnowThings
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 5
    Sorry, but no offer in writing is not an offer. Until you have something in writing, I strongly suggest you go look for other jobs just in case. – Jane S Dec 3 '15 at 8:55
  • Anything time-sensitive is worth a phone call, not an email. Aside from that it's surprising that a company would give you an offer that you can think about for multiple weeks and even more so that you had the nerve to ask for another extension after that and got it. If you're stringing a company along like that (even if it's through no real fault of your own) then it's no surprise that you lost the offer. All that said, this isn't really a good fit for the site as it's about personal advice and specific scenarios that are impossible to predict. – Lilienthal Dec 3 '15 at 10:06
  • @Lilienthal I don't know how it is in other fields, but in my field coming out of university, a month or so is about how long we are given to consider an offer. I wouldn't say I "had the nerve" to request an extension so much as "I needed an extension and they gave me one because that sort of thing happens all the time." – bob Dec 3 '15 at 11:38
  • @bob The dangers of writing a wall of text. :) It's indeed a bit different when hiring graduates but I'd argue that even then asking for such a long extension is pushing it. I assume you just asked for an unspecified extension but if they give you two more weeks to wrap up other offers that's about as generous as you can expect them to be. – Lilienthal Dec 3 '15 at 13:50
  • I don't think the entire question is off topic, if we take out the last bullet point of "what would you have done in my shoes" then this seems like a pretty legitimate question. – Cronax Dec 4 '15 at 7:57
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Big companies can be notoriously slow on such things since it takes a while for all the relevant cogs to start turning. Maybe office politics is causing delays for the manager that intends to hire you, or maybe it's the other way around and your prospective manager is being forced to hire you and doesn't really believe they need you so he's stonewalling the process. There are legion possibilities.

My advice would be to call them and explain that you're really excited to start working for them, but you may not be able to wait much longer for them to make you a concrete offer. Explain that you've been turning down other offers since you'd prefer to work for them, but if that you'll need to start taking those other offers more seriously if you don't get an offer from them soon.

If this approach does not get you concrete results, you're not effectively losing anything: a promise of an offer is worth almost nothing until said offer actually arrives. When someone is looking for a job they rarely have the luxury of waiting around for the perfect offer to come along and most companies should be aware of that.

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How much should I freak out?

Not too much as there are lots of possible explanations here. Another point is how badly is your situation financially that you need this job? That could be worth noting here.

How likely is it that a very reputable corporation, which must be very good at hiring, makes such a big mistake they delay the offer letter almost two weeks after telling the candidate about the offer?

Quite likely if the person that was to make the offer suddenly got sick or the hiring manager had vacation coming up and didn't pass this along or any of 101 other stories for how the offer fell in the cracks. It happens from time to time. I've had the situation where the manager got sick and delayed my starting date and I had an auto accident and had to delay it again once.

How likely is it that I'm in a situation in which they drop the verbal offer they gave me?

This is rather hard to answer without a lot more details. For example, if the company just got acquired then there could be mass layoffs and thus your offer could go bye bye as part of how the deal is structured. There could be hiring freezes or other stuff that may be going on that since you don't specify a field or the kinds of companies here it is hard to answer. For example, here in Calgary, Alberta there are lots of layoffs from the oil and gas companies where if your offer was from a big oil company that may be killed. If the company is doing well and all the people involved in your hiring are working their regular hours fine then this should be resolved soon. However, if someone got sick or went on vacation it may take some time.

What goes on behind the scenes at huge companies like this that might delay the letter so long?

Someone got sick. Someone went on vacation. Some big new work order came in that delays hiring new people until it is sorted as the big client needs this ASAP and everyone may have to pitch in time to get it done quickly. Company got acquired and thus things change in terms of what happens to past hiring decisions that aren't done yet. These are all possible story lines.

What would you have done in my shoes, with Offer A expiring, and a verbal offer from B on the table, given that B could give out no further extensions?

While I would call B, I'd also still be applying to other possible positions until I had the offer in writing. There is something to be said for having specific contact information and the ability to reference what was offered exactly.

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