Ensuring Successful Career Transitions: It Isn’t Over Until It’s Over

Remember that odd old saying “It isn’t over ‘til it’s over?” One way to interpret that saying is: don’t assume something is finished, or a “done deal”, too early. In the world of career transition, this applies more than ever.

We’ve recently seen several situations in which a career transition participant received an offer, verbally and also in writing, that was subsequently withdrawn or rescinded due to organizational changes. It has been a good lesson for all of our participants, as we tell them to keep other options open and their networks active and warm until the start date is reached.

Source: https://c2.staticflickr.com/4/3799/9224605544_1aa3021c96_b.jpgActive professionals in career transition can sometimes generate two or three offers. The trick is to get the offers to arrive at roughly the same time so that an effective comparison can take place. This also mitigates the risk that one of the offers is withdrawn or rescinded.

The issue of offers evaporating is not a common occurrence by any means, and I think our recent experience was a bit of an anomaly. However, it did remind us of the importance of not pulling back job search efforts when an offer appears close.  

The world is full of stories of individuals who were told an offer was coming, relax, and stop networking, following up on leads or applying to positions for which they appear qualified. In many situations, this has proven to be a mistake.

After the offers fail to materialize, individuals are left with no recourse but to ramp up the search they let grow cold. We understand that the job search is painful for many people, so it’s not surprising how seductive the idea can be to stop the process once an offer appears imminent. Regardless, it’s important to press on, keep all options open, and continue generating more offers, until the search is truly over.  

Some thoughts to consider if you are currently in the midst of a career transition:

  1. Source: https://c2.staticflickr.com/2/1215/4606534129_cb61578b06_z.jpgBe alert and vigilant when you interview. Understand how critical the job is to the organization and how subject it might be to organizational changes. This also suggests doing sufficient research ahead of time to understand what’s happening at the organization that might affect this role. Be comfortable asking about potential impacts to the role based on the current business environment for the organization. 
  2. When you are told an offer may be or is forthcoming, take it with a grain of salt. Keep all other activities going. Don’t cancel scheduled networking appointments or stop reviewing and responding to leads sent your way. As one might do in sales, keep filling the pipeline because an offer can go south, so to speak.
  3. Career Transition is an Ongoing ProcessIt’s ok to let other organizations know you have been told an offer is coming…not to necessarily use that as leverage, but rather to be courteous. If people at other organizations are working to bring you in, they should not be surprised by learning that you received or accepted another offer. Give them the chance to accelerate their process, if they can and are that interested in you. However, never make up an offer to put pressure on a prospective employer. Understand that if their interest isn’t strong you may force their hand and just make it easier for them to dismiss you as a candidate for the position (i.e. since you are all set).
  4. Stay in contact with people you’ve met in your networking travels. Many people build and expand their professional network through the career transition process, only to let it lapse once they have a legitimate offer. Be sure to notify the people in your network and thank them for their help and guidance along the way. Follow up later with your new contact information. That network has real value for you, regardless of a successful career transition.

Career transitions can be an incredibly difficult process, draining individuals mentally and emotionally. Steel yourself, and don’t end your search because you can see a potential light at the tunnel’s end. By continuing your networking activities up to the start date of your new position, you not only guarantee a successful transition but strengthen your professional network in the process.


John Madigan started Executive Talent Services in 2007 after extensive experience in corporate HR, including The Hartford Financial Services Group and at Aetna Life and Casualty. Prior to joining The Hartford, Madigan spent three years in the executive outplacement business at Drake Beam Morin. Madigan holds a B.A. in psychology, and a Master's Degree in counseling from the University of Connecticut, where he also completed coursework toward a Ph.D. in adult learning.


Career Partners International provides top quality talent management services to organizations of all sizes. Their offices around the world help assessengagedevelop, and transition talent in any industry. To find out more about Career Partners International and how you can maximize your organizational performance, reach out to an office near you or contact us today!

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