Persuading an employer to revisit a job offer isn't impossible if you're honest about why you're re-entering the candidate pool. Don't let fear or nervousness stop you from raising the issue, however. Though you may encounter some skepticism, most hiring managers won't mind hearing again from a strong applicant. Whether he gives you a second chance depends on how you handled the original encounter, which will dictate the script you follow in approaching him.
Get in Touch Promptly
Contact the employer right away when you change your mind. Call or email him, depending on the communication methods you've used up to this point, advises U.S. News & World Report writer Suzanne Lucas. Keep your initial script short and to the point. Tell him that a company contact has indicated the job is still open, and you're ready to discuss it. Then ask for a date and time to meet.
Be Candid and Concise
Be ready to explain why you've changed your mind. If the job is still open, tell the hiring manager why you said no the first time. For example, you can admit that other offers were open, but this one is the best for your career. Alternatively, suggest that you've learned details of the job -- or the offer -- that make it more attractive. Then say something like, "I'm looking at things differently now, and would love to talk with you about it."
Customize Your Approach
Tailor your response to the situation. If you haven't talked in awhile with the hiring manager, start your phone call or email message by acknowledging that the job may not be open anymore. Then say, "I let fear of the unknown hold me back, but if the job's available, I'm ready to jump in again," career author Joseph Grenny states in his October 2012 Crucial Skills column. Ask the manager to contact you if another opening comes up, and give him your best wishes.
Choose Your Words Carefully
Accept responsibility if you offended the hiring manager by taking too long to decide, or pulling out after voicing your enthusiasm. Start by saying, "I felt really embarrassed about changing my mind, which is why I waited to call you." Then apologize by saying, "In hindsight, my actions have caused you to waste time in filling the position, and for that, I'm sorry." Acknowledge his right to consider these issues before talking with you again. Then proceed to your original explanation.
Follow Your Employer's Lead
Focus on the organization's needs, not your own, during all your exchanges with the employer. As Lucas suggests, don't start by saying, "Guess what? I'm ready to take that job now." If his answer is no, despite your best efforts, accept the verdict and move on. However, if you do get a face-to-face meeting, don't assume the job is yours, until all of your original concerns are addressed. You don't want to leap into a position that's not a good fit.
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