Dear Joyce: I have been waiting several months for one of two good job offers to come through -- both companies have indicated interest. I even have a friend at one of the companies who keeps saying the "time isn't exactly right yet." Why do people hold out the possibility of an offer if they don't mean to make it? -- B.T.W.
They hate to say no. You're churning over the wrong thing. Remember this simple fact: Stop giving yourself heartburn over what you cannot control.
Instead, focus on what you can control and that is to continue an all-out job hunt until the day you report to work. Even after a verbal offer, the situation can fall apart, leaving you with a loss of job and a loss of momentum.
Today's hiring traffic has almost reached gridlock. A temporary situation, of course, but this looks like a tough year for job seekers who are looking for blue chip jobs as an anticipated 10 percent of major corporations make more layoffs or institute hiring freezes. This means it is particularly important to learn to recognize a stall when you hear one.
"We want to hire you but we have to get the paperwork from the regional office."
"The hiring freeze should be over when business picks up; we're expecting a great quarter."
"We need to see a few more people before the deal can be done but personally I'm pulling for you."
"The HR [human resources] office has been blocking the hire but there's going to be a change there soon -- hang on."
Some string-alongs actually may be true. Who cares? The end result is the same for you: Zero. The only thing to do is to redouble your efforts to get an offer good enough to accept, or to use it to leverage the offer you really want.
One indication that the string-along has some veracity is when your references have been contacted. Another good sign is when the stall contains a time element -- "If you don't get a call from HR this week, call me." But, in today's super-cautious environment, even these signs are not proof that the hiring process won't be derailed before it reaches a speedy conclusion in your favor.
One positive strategy if you're hoping to work for a major company is to identify the best prospects. Corporate Jobs Outlook regularly publishes -- via paper and computer -- the data job seekers need about specific companies; their telephone number is (800) 325-8808.
The current edition identifies 30 corporations with good employment prospects, noting that things can and do change very quickly at any business. Several examples:
Conner Peripherals, the premier maker of computer storage drives, is riding the crest of a wave in personal computers. Thousands of jobs are being created.
Wackenhut, as a leader in the private security business, will prosper as U.S. customers seek increased protection against terrorism. Also, it has a booming new business operating jails.
An ambiguous answer does not mean you can't keep checking back with uncertain prospects but it does signal a need to keep your job search campaign in high gear.