Don't count on an offered job until you start it


Dear Joyce: I recently applied for a sales position with a computer supply firm after answering an ad in the newspaper. I underwent interviews with two managers and was offered and accepted the job. That was on Monday. On Friday, when, as I had been instructed, I called back to establish the time to start my training period, the hiring manager came on the phone and explained that after seeing so many people, he decided to go with someone else. In a matter of seconds I became unemployed again.

Joyce, is this a common practice in today's job marketplace? If it is, how can I prevent this from happening again? What are some signs to look for so I won't get stuck dealing with a company that has such disregard for a person's time, effort and feelings? Above all, I had quit looking for a job that week and had turned down other offers. What recourse do I have, if any? S.S.

Dear S.S.: Anecdotal evidence suggests that reneging on job offers is more common than it used to be, but even in earlier times employers have been known to back out, leaving jilted job seekers at the door.

Before you turn down any other job offers or quit looking -- or quit your job -- get a written offer that nails down the terms and conditions of employment. Even that assurance isn't foolproof. I wouldn't abandon a job search campaign until the day I started work.

Dear Joyce: Now in my mid-40s, I have been an aerospace production planner for the past decade, although my college degree is in agriculture. I have been laid off several times because of defense cuts, and laid off again six months ago.

Since then, I have mailed out over 500 copies of my resume. No response. No interview. No nothing. I spent the first 10 years being told I was under qualified and now I am not being told anything. I'm trying very hard to find something outside the defense industry, but I can't get a job sweeping the streets (overqualified). This is a heartbreaking problem. J.C.T.

Dear J.C.T.: An expert in the engineering job market, Harvey Bennett, thinks your best immediate shot, apart from pumping

gas, is to get in touch with contract technical services like the one he heads. Find them in such trade publications as Contract Engineering and P.D. News.

Aerospace is beginning to stir again, Bennett says, and the contract technical service firms are feeling the first wave of recovery.

Your career record is so specialized that if you want to do production planning or expediting in another industry, you'll have to make your resume far more generic so that others can see how your skills could benefit their industries.

Your resume omits mention of your major in agriculture, listing only "bachelor of science." That's smart. Agriculture would likely prove to be an automatic screen-out when applying for a technical job where engineers are preferred. If pressed on the point, speak of being experienced-based and academically educated.

Bennett invites mature engineers and technical personnel who have been squeezed out to send him a resume at American Design CO.Suite 402, 4901 N.W. 17th Way, Fort Lauderdale, Fla 33309. He will inseert the resumes into a nationwide database for current or future assignments. No charge, of course.

"We want experienced people. Most assignments are for 'hands on' engineers, but we do receive a few requests for engineers who have been in management for the past decade," Bennett says.

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