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How Long Should You Wait for an Offer?

How Long Should You Wait for an Offer?

By Caroline M.L. Potter, Yahoo! HotJobs

You have an interview or two for a position you really want, and everything goes well. It's a regular love fest between you, the hiring manager and your future boss. Your heart skips a beat when you're told, "We'll have an offer to you by the end of the week." 

But what happens when a week goes by and you don't receive an offer? Should you sit by the phone and wait or throw in the towel?

Neither, says career counselor Robin Ryan, author of 60 Seconds & You're Hired! She believes you should continue your job search until you receive and accept a formal job offer. "Even if you're certain an offer is coming, do not stop job hunting," she says. "These things have a tendency to fall apart."

Take Action

Don't wait too long to follow up after an offer fails to materialize. "Contact the person who said you'd be getting an offer no more than a few days after you were to receive it," Ryan says. Ask leading questions about its status, such as "Where are you at with this?" or "When will this come through?"

Ryan adds, "If you're told that the process is going to take a bit more time, ask, 'Are you talking weeks or months?'"

If you are being stalled, it's risky to wait on an offer, Ryan says. "If it doesn't come through and you haven't been searching elsewhere, you're going to get really depressed," she says.

Poof! There It Isn't!

A number of things can delay a job offer. Some are tied to how large a corporation is and how elaborate the hiring chain of command is. If you're applying to a Fortune 500 company, the process as a whole may take longer than at a small business. However, job offers can fall apart at anytime -- and at any size company.

"A hiring manager may be stalling you while an offer is out with someone else for the same position," Ryan says. "You also may be promised a job only to learn that the funding for the job is no longer there." She reminds job searchers that mergers, too, may kill a position's creation or eliminate an established job altogether.

Hold or Fold?

If you feel that your job offer is stalled indefinitely, you may be tempted to try to force a potential employer's hand by saying that you have another offer when you don't. "Never bluff," Ryan says. "Many companies -- especially bigger ones -- will call you on it and tell you take the other offer."

Rather, says Ryan, inform the recruiter, "I'm continuing to interview, but I'm still very interested in this job." She urges candidates to try to find out what is really happening with the position and get a commitment from the company.

If the offer does vanish, Ryan reminds workers to remember, "There's more than one dream job out there."

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