‘Exploding’ Job Offer Can Blow Up in Your Face!

Job SearchPersonal Branding

Editor’s Note: This blog is a modified excerpt from professional “headhunter” and bestselling job-hunting book author Skip Freeman’s next book in the “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets series of job-hunting books, CAREER STALLED? How to Get Your Career Back in ‘High Gear’ and Land the Job You Deserve─Your Dream Job. Publication is scheduled for early 2013.


If you happen to be fortunate enough to be in one of the professions that are perennially in very high demand (and growing), e.g., certain healthcare specialties, some key engineering fields, accounting, et al., you may encounter what’s referred to as an “exploding” job offer during your job search. This type of job offer typically has a relatively short acceptance deadline and usually includes elements that are either non-negotiable or largely non-negotiable, e.g., salary range, position grade and/or title, etc.

The idea, of course, is for hiring companies to reduce both recruiting costs and the time it takes to bring high-demand candidates onboard to fill key critical positions within the organization. As you might suspect, that can mean both good things and bad things for candidates receiving these “exploding” job offers. The wise job-seeker should approach such offers with pleasure and pride, of course, but also with healthy doses of skepticism and careful consideration.

Historically, “exploding” job offers have largely been used to recruit recent (or soon-to-be) graduates with degrees in high-demand specialties from top colleges and universities, but with literally millions of high-demand, critical positions going unfilled month after month in today’s job market, we are now seeing a broader application of the approach.

While there is no “one size fits all” type of “exploding” job offer, here is how the offer usually works for qualified candidates who have branded themselves (and who are perceived by the hiring companies) as being among the TOP candidates for open positions in high-demand, critical specialties:

  • The hiring company stipulates a largely non-negotiable, though usually competitive, starting salary or salary range.
  • The benefits, e.g., number of annual vacation days, performance review periods, etc., are pretty much “set in stone” and generally applicable to all high-demand candidates targeted by the hiring company.
  • The candidate is usually given a very short “deadline” to either accept or reject the offer, essentially, “as is.” This deadline can be as short as just a few days or perhaps as long as a couple of weeks, but usually never longer than that.

Assuming that each of these (and other equally important) elements is essentially in sync with current job market parameters and conditions, i.e., the salary and benefits are indeed competitive, etc., then this type of offer can significantly benefit the qualified candidate. That is, it can substantially reduce the time needed to be spent on the typical job search, and it can eliminate quite a bit of the negotiation “hassle” that’s normally involved in the more typical job search.

In order for you, the candidate, to accurately make such an assessment, though, i.e., is the offer indeed a truly competitive one, you must do your homework. Merely assuming that the offer is a good (and genuine) one, or worse yet, guessing that it is, could end up costing you dearly and land you in a new job that is anything but a “good fit” for your skills, experience, talents and personality.

When it comes to your career, your future, taking a “shoot from the hip” approach to a new job offer because you may feel that the offer is simply too good to pass up—it may or it may not be!—or that it might be the only really “good” job offer to come your way in the foreseeable future, is NOT advised! Let me elaborate briefly here.

If you are in fact in a high-demand profession, and you have in fact branded yourself as being among the crème de la crème in your profession, chances are you will end up getting more than just one job offer when you actively seek out new career opportunities, or if and when you are actively sought out by “headhunters,” hiring manager and in-house corporate recruiters. Obviously, then, if you were to jump on the first offer to come your way—without carefully and completely evaluating that offer—you easily could end up making a very costly career mistake!

At an absolute minimum, you should include the following considerations when evaluating an “exploding” job offer:

  • The average salaries (or salary ranges) currently being paid in your particular area of expertise and in the geographic locale you are considering. (Don’t guess! Go to www.salary.comwww.simplyhiredwww.glassdoor.com, et al., and get the facts before even contemplating accepting any offer.) Does the salary offered match (or nearly match) what your research reveals about similar positions in similar geographic locales?
  • Check with professional peers who have the same skills, education and experience as you and who are currently employed in the type of position you’re evaluating. How does the offer you’re considering stack up with what these peers tell you?
  • Make sure you have a current and realistic understanding of the standards in your specialty and industry regarding what parts of a job offer may be negotiable, e.g., salary, number of vacation days, etc., and what may not be negotiable, e.g., relocation costs, health and life insurance costs, company retirement benefits, etc.

Without question, if you are one of the extremely fortunate job candidates who are in a field or industry where, currently, at least, the number of available jobs far exceeds the number of available (and qualified) men and women to fill them, then count your blessings! For now, you, unlike the overwhelming majority of other job seekers in the current market, just happen to be in a seller’s market! Enjoy it while you can!

Just two more professional admonitions, though, before I end this blog:

  • Remember, if something (in this case, a job offer) sounds simply too good to be true, it usually is; AND,
  • If you don’t “look before you leap,” you may not like the landing that awaits you!

Have a happy—and prosperous and safe!—2013!


Skip Freeman is the author of “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever! and is the President and Chief Executive Officer of The HTW Group (Hire to Win), an Atlanta, GA, Metropolitan Area Executive Search Firm. Specializing in the placement of sales, engineering, manufacturing and R&D professionals, he has developed powerful techniques that help companies hire the best and help the best get hired.