Monday, January 26, 2015

Why it's important to stay in touch with the people you turned down (and how to do it effectively)

Mike Schmeckebier
Associate Director,
Graduate Career Services
When a job search ends, I always love getting the phone call that the person has not only received a job offer but that they’ve received multiple job offers.

I can only think of a few things that make you feel better than knowing more than one organization wants you and your talents on their team. After I share words of congratulations, give high fives, and we talk through deciding which offer to accept, I always end with a surprising question:

How are you going to stay in touch with the people you turn down?

When I’m on the phone with a client, the dialogue after that question usually goes something like this:

Client: silence

Me: Hello, hello, are you still there?

What do I mean by staying in touch with the people you turn down? 


And why would they want to stay in touch with you? You’re turning them down, after all, and that step is hard enough.

Keeping in touch with the people you turned down isn’t as crazy as it sounds. An interview process that leads to an offer is intensive. You share a lot with the people who interview you. Chances are high that good relationships were formed.

These people liked you enough that they were willing to make you a colleague, which means they probably like you enough to stay in touch.

Employers understand the hiring process. They understand that you can only work at one place. They understand you are making the best decision for you. If they’re upset about anything, they are disappointed they didn’t get you.

Some of those people might leave that company for a new position. You can figure out all the reasons why that might be good for you. They wanted to hire you now, so chances are very good that they will want to hire you again in the future.

All of this is under the assumption you turned down the offer in a professional way. If you fail to do that, then all bets are off.

So, how do you stay in touch with an employer you turned down? 


My best advice after you professionally and properly turn down the job offer is to do the following:

1. Connect on LinkedIn with every person you formed a relationship with during the interview process, if you haven’t already done it.

2. Once you do that, send them another brief note expressing gratitude and wishing good luck.
Let things lie for 5-6 months and enjoy your new job.

3. After about six months, identify a couple key people from the interview process and send them a note with an update on how things are going for you and asking how they are.

4. Once you get past the one year mark in the new job, and if you live or work in the same area as those job offers, invite those same people out for lunch, coffee, or a drink just to catch up. Do this once or twice a month, individually, until you’ve hit everybody. If you don’t live in the same area, make it a phone call or email exchange instead.

5. Once you complete that cycle, those people are officially in your network and you should treat them accordingly going forward.

Too often we leave out this vital pocket of people to add into our network. Take the time to do it, because turning down an offer might one day turn up a job.

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