Exploding Job Offers Are Bullshit

A friend recently asked me for help in choosing among a few job offers. This is always a fun challenge, but a detail stuck out. He said, “this offer expires tomorrow, so I need to decide quickly”.

This tactic in recruiting is bullshit, and it’s time for candidates to stop obeying so willingly.

Exploding Job Offer

If a company likes you, they will continue to like you tomorrow. They’ll like you a week from now too. Nothing changed with your relationship, so their opinion shouldn’t change.

The reason companies make these bounds is to get a faster answer. It is a psychological ploy to manipulate candidates to make a decision. It also might help squeeze out the competition. Rather than make a rushed hiring decision (which is correctly viewed as a bad idea), a competing company might never make an offer because of the forced rushed timeline.

Rushed decisions are bad for candidates. Joining a company is a very important decision with a lot of factors to weigh, and rushing makes it more likely to make a mistake. It also puts an adversarial stance between a company and an employee. The recruiting team typically isn’t a future direct coworker, but playing hardball will still hurt the relationship with the company overall.

Companies might make the argument that not being committed shows a lack of passion for the position. Passion is certainly one of the key areas that should be used in assessing candidates. But another dimension to personality is being conscientious and thoughtful. What might be perceived as a lack of passion could just be good decision making.

From my perspective as an employer at YesGraph, do I want employees that are blown down so easily? What if the next such issue affects something like product judgement or strategy? I want people that are considerate and operate from first principles, not those that bend to flimsy declared constraints.

Two Caveats

There might be other things going on within the company, so I recommend only to question the claims, not completely deny them. Perhaps you’re applying for an internship and there are only a few slots. Others are going to get offers and they’ll accept the first five that say yes. This isn’t an artificial date but a structural constraint you should respect.

There is a difference between being conscientious and indecisive. It helps everyone if you try to think critically as early as possible about what kind of position, company, and culture you’re looking for as a job seeker. Not knowing yourself is a poor excuse to delay an answer.