Career Advice Tuesday – “Under Pressure”

September 6, 2011

Dear Infosecleaders:

I have a simple question for you and I hope you can provide some guidance for me.

I have been passively looking for a new information security opportunity.  It is not that my current job is a bad one, but it has just gotten stale and I am looking for some new challenges.

Through this process, I have found a few opportunities that have had some initial appeal, and I have progressed through their interview processes.  One of the opportunities has greater appeal than the others, and I have been told that I will be receiving an offer during the next few days.   I have also been told, that they are interviewing other candidates, and they would expect me to make a commitment to the within 48 hours of receiving the offer.

The truth is that although the opportunity is interesting to me, and I believe it is better than my current role, I am not sure it is the right opportunity to me.   I would really like to vet it against other opportunities that are either less far along, or I have yet to uncover. 

Can you provide me with any advice on how to stall the current suitor, to provide me with enough time to make the correct choice? 


David Bowie


Dear Mr. Bowie:

As far as your current situation is concerned, I am not sure if I can provide you with any advice at this time that will help extend your decision making process beyond an extra couple of days, so I believe that you are going to have to make a determination  if the offer with this new company, is something that you are really excited and passionate about.

From the tone of your e-mail, my feeling is that this is not exactly what you are looking for.  Considering that this is the case, I would like for you to consider calling up your suitor, and telling them how you feel, before they get you the offer in writing.

What I would do, would be to write the hiring manager (whomever you would be working for), and let them know the following –

1) You are sincerely interested in their company

2) You respect the fact that they need to make a quick decision and fill the role

3) You believe that this could be a very good long term match

4) You are not prepared to make a decision in the time frame that they have outlined.

By getting in front of the situation, and dealing with the hiring manager directly (you should CC your  internal and external recruiter – if they are involved) – you will find out exactly how interested they are in your candidacy.

By engaging the hiring manager, you may get a positive response that may include the following-

1) What other information would you like to discuss?

2) How much more time do you think you will need?

3) Would you like to speak with others in the company?  -

All of these will allow you to receive more information and get more comfortable in your decision making process.

Conversely,  you may also receive a negative response that would include the following:

1) Why did you waste my time?

2) What does this say about your ability to make a decision?

3) How could you not want to work here, what is wrong with you?

Receiving a response like this, will also enable you to receive more information about the company and the opportunity, and provide you with reassurance that you made a good decision by not receiving the offer

In the future, what you may want to do if you are looking at multiple opportunities, is to establish a consistent timeline for decision making with all of your potential employers.  You may say, I am looking to begin my new opportunity in about 2 months, and I would like to make a decision in six weeks..  By doing this,  you allow yourself to pace the interviews, communicate clearly, and set expectations,  It also demonstrates planning, thoughtfulness, and professionalism – which are all good qualities in information security professionals.

Let us know how it goes.

Lee and Mike


Posted by lee | Filed Under Advice, Behavior, Career Advice Tuesday, Interviewing, Position Selection, Recruiting 


3 Responses to “Career Advice Tuesday – “Under Pressure””

  1. ds on September 6th, 2011 3:25 pm

    It sounds to me like emotion is taking the lead in your decision but you aren’t trusting your gut. The whole notion of vetting this position against others says to me “I wish something better would come along but I’m worried this may be as good as it gets”.

    You shouldn’t expect this firm to wait around for other opportunities to firm up, let alone materialize. They have opened the position because they have a need and it is unprofessional to expect them to wait around for you to see if you really want the position.

    Really, the 48 hour window is to see if the offer is what you need, not to see if the job is one you want!

  2. Lee Kushner on September 8th, 2011 7:49 pm

    Interesting takeaway. Thanks for the comment.

    Timing is a very important element in position selection and it is often taken for granted. Information security professionals who are presented with choices – have the opportunity to make both good decisions and bad ones. It is common for someone in this situation to wonder “Do I keep this” or “Trade it for what is behind Curtain #3?” (Lets Make A Deal Reference). There is a delicate balance with an employers needs and a candidates “wants”. It can be argued that the candidate has the burden of additional risk, and therefore needs to be more thorough in making their decision. Indecision from a candidate can also be viewed as a “red flag” from an employer. In the end, setting expectations up front, and creating an atmosphere of honest communication, is usually the best way to prevent this from happening.


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