Even celebrating a job offer should be off the table for jobseekers: it can always be taken away. Kirsty Liddle shares her experience and warns jobseekers to be wary of verbal job offers…
Anyone looking for a job knows it’s a full-time job. You spend hours searching for openings, noting “key” websites, writing and rewriting the perfect cover letter. We check our emails at least once an hour, make sure our phone is working and the ringer on loud, and obsessively stalk the social media accounts of possible employers. We smile and nod as friends brag about their perfect jobs, and grit our teeth as family enquire for the umpteenth time how the job hunt is going. We perfect the art of vaguely muttering something about freelancing, temping or volunteering anything that makes us sound like we do more than sit on the sofa all day and eat crisps.
So “overexcited” was an understatement when I received an offer from a company who shall remain nameless, mostly for my sake than theirs, after three long months. Most of the time we jobseekers apply for work and, with no response, we sadly accept, shrug our shoulders and move on. You have to do this because as bad as rejection is it is nothing compared to, well, hearing nothing and if you take it to heart it will destroy you.
However, this company was different. We engaged in a positive lengthy email correspondence after I passed the initial entry test. Then my company contact, let’s call him Ed, went ominously silent. I used the old “just checking you got my email” email to remind him I did, in fact, exist. Eventually, I got a response and some rubbish about Ed having been away on a skiing trip and “gathering his thoughts” but he promised further communication.
Presumably Ed’s thoughts proved to be a wily bunch as I was hit with more silence. I thought, “time’s up” and forgot all about it.
Until “Marie” emailed me out of the blue explaining that Ed was no longer on the project, no surprise to me as he appeared useless. She asked me to call her back. Heart pounding in my chest, I picked up the phone. In her beautiful, bubbly voice she confirmed I did indeed have the position and would get back to me on Monday with more information.
Monday arrived and my email-checking obsession stepped up a gear as I yet again waited. By Wednesday, I had a horribly familiar sinking feeling: silence is never good. I called but was informed she was out the office.
Saturday night arrived. I was chilling out with Netflix when my phone chirruped. My heart just dropped because in my inbox was a standard, impersonal rejection email from Marie, and was told rather sheepishly and apologetically about a high rate of applicants, reconstruction of the role and rotation issues.
Basically, I hadn’t been unsuccessful but somehow I couldn’t actually work for them right now. It was a confusing, depressing mess.
The worst part of this experience was not the tearful, humiliating phone call retracting my earlier, joyful news to my mother and father, nor was it believing that I would literally never get anywhere and should just give up now, but what my fiancé told me the next day, that a co-worker said his daughter had experienced the very same thing weeks earlier. How is this possible? Jobs are not like sweets; we are always emotionally, sometimes financially, invested in this process. Let this serve as a word of warning to those people who are currently searching or indeed waiting: being offered a job verbally doesn’t mean you actually have it. I will now only consider myself in employment when I hold a signed, sealed and electronically delivered contract, the jobseeker’s holy grail, in my hand.