My prospective employer keeps me hanging on ?

This is the nightmare. The world gets put on hold. After what can be a multiple interview, competitive situations, and a lot of personal effort, not much seems to be happening. You've got the job. There?s an income there, waiting.

So what's gone wrong?

The short answer is pretty banal. Either the employer has messed up the hiring process, not encouraging, or has changed its mind, worse.

Not that either situation helps you, much, except maybe warning you that this employer might not be the real deal. Inefficiency, or too much time signing off on approvals is unusual, even in government, where it's mandatory, and has to be done like that.

There?s a serious situation here. You're in a losing position if you let everything slide waiting for the employer to come to life. You're also being treated pretty badly, because your own rights and interests are being ignored.

What to do?

  • Everything you were already doing should be continued, including going for other jobs. Don't miss chances because these guys can't get their act together.
  • Think. Is this job worth the wait? If so, be patient, but not masochistic.
  • Get serious about checking up. Contact, after a week, is a reasonable approach. By then, they should have contacted you. Note: If you were given a time frame, stick to it. After that period you're justified in asking what's happening.
  • ?Somebody's away, so we don't have approval yet? isn't much of an answer. It is possible that this is an unusual situation, someone has genuinely made a mess of the process. It might be true, but most normal human beings can appoint acting managers.
  • Don't lose your cool. It's been an irritating enough experience already without a stray word, however justifiable, wrecking it.
  • Pay attention to any information you're given. It's easy to get distracted by your own feelings, so don't do that. Whatever clues are available will be in how you're answered. If the person is evasive, ignorant when they shouldn't be, something?s wrong.

Decision time

At some point you will have to exercise your own judgment. If, after all time frames have been passed, and there's still no solid result or times set, the situation has gone from 'problem' to 'insult'. This is extremely un-businesslike, and extremely unprofessional.

This is a very untrustworthy situation. You were given information that was at best incorrect, and at worst, just lies.

It is not acceptable that your time is valued like that.

It's also definitely not a sign of a good employer. The failure to notify on time is an appalling standard of basic management. In terms of employment, it doesn't get a lot more basic than this. People have been hired before, and these guys don't even seem to know how to do that.

Someone even managed to hire the idiots who can't achieve an internal phone call to find out what's happening with your job.

For consideration

There are a few other issues, not obvious. If you put up with this slopfest, you risk giving the impression that you can be treated like that. You effectively define yourself as a doormat.

This is shoddy treatment, and you're not even getting paid to tolerate it.

For executives, and professionals, that's a very dangerous social situation. By putting up with it, you've also managed to imply that you don't know there's something wrong with a lazy, get-around-to-it-one-day approach to your own job, or what to do about it. You've gone from successful job applicant to doormat.

People in your own immediate area will be aware that someone was hired, and management didn't feel the need to get you on the job in any hurry. So you're not considered important.

The 'doormat effect' will put you way down the food chain. Imagine arriving at a new job after weeks of inactivity, only when someone could be bothered to sign the right forms. Not exactly high priority, is it? Not so much 'making an entrance', but slinking in when the janitor feels like opening the door.

One way of handling this is pretty aggressive, but it makes a point. Contact the senior manager, and say,

?I was verbally informed on the 5th of this month that I'd got the job, and approvals would be finalized by the 12th.

It is now the 19th. (brief pause, not long enough for a reply.) I was informed by Mr. ABCD on the 14th that this matter would be dealt with immediately.

Under the circumstances, if I don't receive confirmation by the end of the week, I?ll have to withdraw my application.?

It may not look like it, but that's your out, and it's almost a legal document.

You're not being unreasonable, which is more than can be said for taking two weeks over a simple process. You've put the liabilities where they belong, and nobody could hold it against you after being hit with time frames like those. You've pointed out some abysmal administration work to someone who needs to know he?s running a raffle rather than a place of business. As an employee, that's something you'd be praised for doing. As someone not yet employed, it shows initiative, and gives a sense of finding a problem and telling the right person about it.

You retain a chance of getting the job, because Mr. ABCD has put his neck in a noose with that date, and can only deny that he said anything. The senior manager is unlikely to be impressed with a piece of paper taking weeks to arrive on his desk. It's now his problem, as well as yours.

It also clears the decks. The job is either there, or it's not. If not, you've lost nothing, avoided a very sloppy employer, and at least hit back. You've also made the point that you're not a doormat, and know how to defend your own interests.

If you get the job, things are even better. You are now important, because someone important is paying attention to you, however unwillingly.

That information will follow you into the office, when you start work. You're a 'no-nonsense' type, and could talk to the boss like that, person to person, and still get the job.

You'll probably get quite a bit of respect on that basis alone.

When you're in the position to do so, fire Mr. ABCD, or whoever made such a mess of your approval.

You'll be doing the whole organization a big favor.