Why Can Some Job Offers Take Forever to Arrive?

When you near the end of a job search process, you will hopefully have that moment when you look across the table at your future boss and realise that they want to work with you as much as you want to work with them.

Suddenly, it is all worth it. Exciting possibilities flood your imagination, and you understandably feel a little giddy. You sense that the job is yours.

Until the formal job offer takes uncomfortably too long to materialise. 

Maybe you get a verbal offer, but the hiring manager mentions certain complications that could delay things. Or perhaps you just get that warm and fuzzy feeling and don’t hear anything at all.

Then…. silence. For two weeks. Or maybe more.

An interested employer will likely keep their first-choice candidate informed about any delays, but this will not be a daily occurrence, and it probably won’t be until a week or two have passed. Agreeing and formalising job offers can sometimes take significant time.

There are multiple reasons why job offers can seemingly take forever to arrive.

Protracted salary negotiations. The employer may be keen to employ you, but if your salary expectations are at the top of their pay scale, do not be surprised if there are some (manufactured) delays agreeing to your salary and benefits package. Be patient.

Other candidates in play. You need to remember that you are not the only candidate in the frame. Employers will have different options; you may not be the first choice, and a decision to hire you may only come when someone else declines. Such is the way of a job search.

Decision-maker absences. People go on holiday, have days off sick, and miss out on conversations because they have other business priorities. Preparing a job offer is coordinated between multiple departments, so the organisational stars need to align.

Financial or strategy changes. Most recruitment processes take at least a couple of months, and many things can change. Economic boundaries and budgets might shift, and external factors may influence matters. Hopefully, you will avoid the dreaded recruitment freeze.

Delays between verbal and written offers. Once you have a verbal offer, there may be numerous reasons why you do not get the written offer for a few days. Do not resign from your previous role until you have received a signed formal offer (subject to references).

Background checks. Once the HR department has a signed offer letter, they can request references (some may do this before the offer). Criminal record checks, work permits, and medical tests (in some circumstances) may also take place. These things can take time.

And, sadly, sometimes that expected job offer won’t arrive at all.

There is great value in not nagging the employer too much in this case. A deafening silence can sometimes turn into a “no” for reasons outside the hiring manager’s control, but you never know how things might turn out in the future. Keep in touch with them – you know that you would have got on, so they may well be one for the future.

Have patience – if the job has your name on it (and if you are willing and able to wait for it), the offer will come eventually.