Tech & Work

The flawed process of getting a job offer

At least three times in my career I have gone through the long interview process for a tech job, got an offer and then turned it down.  Each case would have been a step up in either income or responsibility.  One was turned down because it required a move of about 150 miles - just too far to commute.  Another was turned down because I found out some things I didn't like about the company in the interviews, and the other died due to an overwhelming counteroffer.

Yes, you're right about the first offer. Why did I interview with a company that was so far away if I wasn't serious about being willing to move?  Well, I was serious going into the interview process.  The problem was that the offer wasn't attractive enough.  Yes, they included moving expenses but it just wasn't enough to risk uprooting my family and then discovering six months down the road why they were so anxious to bring in an outside IT Manager instead of promoting someone from within.

I felt bad about turning down each of these offers.  I wish there was some way to have all the information up front that would have allowed me to make a decision without going all the way through the multiple interview and offer process.  I especially hated having to drag my references through all the calls and emails and then had to explain to them why I didn't take the job.  Luckily, they are still good friends or former bosses that had a good memory of the work I did for them.

Is there something fundamentally flawed with this whole process of getting a good tech job or would we have to go through the same thing no matter what industry we are in?  I don't know how it is in other countries, but in the States we typically go though at least two interviews and sometimes three before even finding out how much money is involved.  Some companies are good enough to give you a range up front, but it has been my experience in IT Management that offers are DOE - 'depending on experience'.

My point is that in each case I could have saved myself and the company some grief if they had just been up-front with me that they have budgeted so much and the offer will be in this *narrow* range.  I hate the DOE thing. Any company that does their homework should know what IT Managers make with so many years of experience and that have managed a certain size staff.  Is it so hard to pin it down either over the phone or even right in the job listing?

Mind you I'm talking about private companies here.  Most government agencies and educational institutions have this little detail nailed.  There's no wondering up front if it will be worth my time to go through the pain of several interviews before finding out how much they are wiling to pay.  Why can't private industry change this little social taboo and just let it be known that they are willing to pay so much so that we both can be sincere in our interest and effort to win the job?

Is it too much to ask?  Can you HR managers and recruiting managers out there who keep calling me about these great jobs please take note that we computer guys are tired of the dance that can drag on for a month.  Just tell us up front how much you are willing to pay.  It makes me want to be a contractor just so I can tell you my rates, take it or leave it.  The only problem is that most IT Managers aren't contract employees - they are part of the management team.

Am I the only one that has gone through this?  Have you ever gone through a long interview process only to be very disappointed by an employment offer?  Is it unreasonable to expect that money can be discussed in the first interview or even better, over the phone? What do you think?

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