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Managing Your Job Search: Offer, Resignation

For the most part, the offer, acceptance and resignation process is fairly straight forward and once all the interviews and testing is complete usually follows these steps:

  • Employer extends a verbal offer to a candidate either pending references or not (references are often taken prior to a verbal offer although not always);
  • Candidate either accepts or rejects the verbal offer;
  • Employer/recruiter checks references, Employer confirms they are happy with said references, prepares contract and sends to candidate;
  • Candidate reviews contract, signs and returns to employer;
  • Candidate resigns from current job;

No matter how much pressure either a recruiter or employer puts on you to resign, there is no need to resign until you have received a written contract.

Below are some of the most common questions we get asked by candidates.

References: I’ve only worked at one place and don’t want them knowing I want to leave unless I get the job. What can I do about my references?

Money: The offer is less money than what I was expecting, what can I do?

Notice Period: They have asked me to start before the end of my notice period. What are my options?

Delaying Acceptance: I’m interviewing for 2 positions and the one I’ve been offered is my second choice. How can I hold off giving my acceptance until I know the outcome of my first choice?

Counter Offers: What should I do if my current employer gives me a counter offer?

Resigning: I’ve never resigned before, what happens?


First and foremost never give someone permission to call a referee until you have spoken to them first. There are a number of reasons for this but the most important one is to make sure they are prepared for the call.

If you have only worked for the one business it makes providing a reference difficult without your current employer finding out you are looking for another job.

Here are some alternatives:

  • Ask someone that worked with you and has since left the business;
  • Ask a client or external stakeholder who you have a good relationship with;
  • Ask a colleague who you trust;

Most businesses are happy with either of these solutions and will understand your reasons for not wanting to give details of your current employer.


If you have been upfront about your salary expectations, have confirmed this with the recruiter / employer throughout the process this shouldn’t happen, however, it does from time to time.

There are a lot of reasons why an employer may offer you less money including:

  • You or the recruiter told them you would accept what they have offered;
  • It might be a very different role than what you have done in the past;
  • The budget for the position may have changed;
  • They are taking advantage of the fact they know you really want the job;

Regardless of the reasons there are a couple of things you can do:

  • Reject the offer and tell them exactly what you will accept;
  • Say you would be willing to accept the offer under the condition you have a pay review at the end of your probation period / set amount of time or receive a signing bonus;
  • Accept the offer;

Ultimately salary is one of the greatest indicators of the level of responsibility you will have when you start with a business so if it is out by more than 10% I would be having serious reservations about accepting the position.

If it is slightly less than what you were looking for and everything else is right, by asking for a pay review after 6 months it says to the employer:

  • I’m worth more than what you offered and you know it; however
  • I’m willing to back myself to prove my value; IF
  • You are willing to commit to adjusting my pay once I have demonstrated that value;

If you accept an offer that is less then you are worth without asking for something in return there is a good chance you are going to be tied to that pay for the duration of your employment with that business. By that I mean if they think they can underpay you when you start why wouldn’t they continue to underpay you?

Something to be aware of is when an employer extends an offer of employment the expectation is that the person they offered will accept that offer rather than it being a starting point for negotiation.

As such they will be very reluctant to improve an offer without very good reason, and trying to negotiate an offer you have told them you would accept could result in them pulling the offer altogether.

If you are negotiating your contract make sure you get everything agreed upon in writing before you resign.

Notice Period

Unless you have an excessive notice period (longer than 4 weeks for most positions under $300K) or it is a contract job you will rarely be asked to commence work with a business before you have completed your notice period.

If you really want to help out your new employer you can usually use your accumulated annual leave to negotiate a shorter notice period with your current employer however you shouldn’t be expected to do this.

Remember if the business wants you, 4 weeks is standard for permanent positions and they will be prepared to wait.

Delaying Acceptance

Delaying acceptance of an offer for longer than 24 hours without good reason is not advisable.

If you have been offered your second choice and want to know the outcome of your first before accepting, if you handle the situation correctly it is possible to get employers to wait a day or two.

Before you ask them to wait you need to ask yourself:

  • If I don’t receive an offer for my first choice position am I prepared to accept the one I have been offered?
  • Am I prepared to give my first choice a deadline to make an offer?
  • Am I prepared to miss out on the job I have been offered?

If your answer to either of the above questions is “no” then you need to make a decision one way or the other on the role you have been offered.

If your answer to all the above questions are “yes” then you need to:

  • Contact the employer/recruiter you are holding out for, let them know you have received an offer from another business and confirm when a decision will be made on the job you are interviewing for;
  • If you are happy with the time frame, let the employer who has offered you a position know you need until X date to make a decision and your reasons;

If a business knows you have an offer from another business they will tell you if you have a realistic chance of getting the job or if you are just making up the numbers.

Once you tell the business who offered you that you need time be prepared for the facts:

  • They will be meeting other people;
  • No one wants to be second choice so they may pull the offer altogether; and
  • Waiting for the other business to make an offer could cost you the job you have been offered;

Some businesses will be happy that you have exhausted all other options before accepting a role with them. Others might pull the offer. That is the risk you take.

Being up front and honest with people carries a lot of weight and while you do run the risk of missing out on your second choice, stringing people along is guaranteed to burn bridges.

Counter Offers

A counter offer is when you resign and your current employer doesn’t want you to leave and either offers you a different role in the business or more money to continue doing the same job.

Recruiters hate counter offers, they will throw statistics at you like 90% of all people who accept a counter offer will be looking again within 6 months and tell you the only reason your current employer gave you a counter offer is so they can buy some time to find your replacement.

All of this is somewhat true although not for everyone.

The questions you need to be asking the person who makes you the offer:

  • What has changed?
  • If I accept this offer will the reasons I wanted to leave in the first place still exist?
  • Why did I need to resign to get this offer?
  • Now that you know that I’m prepared to leave how will this affect my chances of getting promoted in the future?

If you are satisfied with the answers and the offer is one worth considering then tell them you want the weekend to think about it.

Speak with who you need to and if, after speaking with everyone you need to, you decide it is a better opportunity, why wouldn’t you take it?


Resigning from a job can be difficult, especially if you have been working with the business for a long time.

The most important things to do when resigning are:

  • Be clear in the language you use, that is say “I called this meeting to let you know I’m resigning from my position with XYZ”;
  • Hand them your letter of resignation, shake hands and thank them for the opportunity;

Managers do funny things when employees resign, some will take it very personally and lose their temper and some will wish you all the best.

Regardless of your reasons for leaving it is important to remember that at one point in time, you felt, the job you are resigning from represented a good opportunity, thank them for that opportunity and wish them all the best because you never know when your paths will cross again.



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