« Your service rep in India has work life balance issues, too | Main | Underemployment -- so sad! »

Verbal job offers -- beware.

Today I was in a FedEx Office store and a woman walked in to get her resume printed. She mentioned that she has been on a roller coaster, celebrating after a verbal job offer  only to learn that she once again is back on the job market after the offer was rescinded. She talked about how her whole work/life balance is out of whack. She said having time to have a cup of coffee in Starbucks is nice. Not having the money to pay for it anymore, not so nice. Now she's back to plugging away at her new full time job, which has become searching for a job.

I really felt for this frazzled woman because I've been there. I quit my first job after receiving a verbal job offer that I thought at the time would take me to a better place. But after I quit, the editor who offered me the job stopped returning my phone calls. It turned out she really didn't have the authority to hire.

Apparently, recruiters are noticing a disturbing trend: Verbal job offers that get rescinded.  Fistful of Talent blogger Jessica Lee sent a tweet out about a candidate who wanted an official job offer letter from the recruiter before she quit her job rather than just an email outlining the terms. Lee was floored by the responses. "Recruiters and HR pros said they understood candidates responding in this way... it seemed there were a handful of folks who have had to rescind offers in the past, or that once offers had been made, they have had positions fall through, budgets disappear, or the requirements of a position changed... and job seekers who came back also saying they felt the same way about needing something in writing, with an actual signature, because they didn't trust verbal offers, probably were the recipients of offers made by the very same recruiters who responded to me."

Lee asks: Why have so many job seekers been jerked around when it comes to employment offers that they have to be so overly cautious? 

It's a valid question and maybe a sign of the times. We have become a society where people's words (just like their handshake) isn't good enough anymore. Maybe some of those recruiters need to see and talk to a candidate like the woman I met today who is trying to stay positive despite being jerked around.

It's simple. Hiring managers and recruiters, your word isn't good enough, these days. Just because there's a glut in the job market, doesn't mean candidates don't deserve fair treatment. I say, give them an official signed offer.I 'd certainly want one. Have you had either a good or bad experience with a verbal job offer? Would you ask for a signed job offer letter?