Got a ‘Verbal Job Offer’ But No ‘Written Offer’ Yet? Do This Next

You’ve done your research, refined your resumé, and meticulously completed the interview process. Whether it’s a meaningful career move or a leap into your dream job, the excitement builds as you anticipate a response from your potential employer. Finally, you hear the words you’ve been anxiously awaiting: “We’d like to offer you the job!” 

However, days pass, and you still have not received an email or an official written offer. What step should you take next?

While receiving a verbal job offer is undoubtedly a positive step, it can create uncertainty and doubt if a written offer doesn’t immediately follow. This article will help you understand how to respond to a verbal offer and navigate the next phase of the job search journey.

The Verbal Offer: What It Means

A verbal job offer is a formal expression of a job opportunity that is solely extended verbally, i.e., without a formal written document. Verbal offers, unlike written job offers, are typically extended in person or over the phone. While a verbal offer is significant in terms of the employer’s intention to hire, it is still an informal offer. Informal verbal offers do not offer the security of a written offer, which is a legally binding contract. 

Why would an employer extend a verbal offer without a formal offer letter? Oftentimes a verbal offer is an employer strategy to gauge your interest in the position, although there are many potential reasons for the delay. While excitement is natural and expected after the verbal offer, it’s important to remain professional and tactful while awaiting a more formal job offer letter. 

Reasons for Delay in the Written Offer

A verbal offer is undoubtedly a positive step in the hiring process. Although anxiety may increase while anticipating a written offer, it is imperative to note that there are a variety of possible reasons for the delay. Understanding these reasons can help candidates manage expectations and lessen anxiety during the waiting period, especially if the wait is linked to your dream job.

Written offer delays for a new job are vast and may range from department coordination issues to scheduling conflicts. Some common reasons include:

  • Internal Processes: It is not uncommon for a company to involve multiple departments within the hiring process, such as the legal, finance, and HR departments. These coordination efforts may slow down the approval process.
  • Bureaucracy: The bureaucratic decision-making process, especially in larger organizations, can lead to delays. Keep in mind that this doesn’t necessarily reflect your qualifications or the employer’s intent. 
  • Timing and Scheduling: Timing can play a significant role in delays—from employer scheduling to time off and holidays, there are multiple factors that may complicate or prolong the process.

Regardless of the reason, remember that communication is vital during this phase of the hiring process. Employers will ideally give an expected timeline for receiving the written offer, but if one is not immediately offered, you may need to request one through a call or email. Continued communication will highlight your level of interest and eagerness, in addition to demonstrating gratitude for the initial verbal offer.

reasons for delay in written job offer

Immediate Actions to Take

As mentioned, communication is necessary in order to reaffirm your interest in the job and express gratitude for considering you as a candidate. Once a verbal offer has been made, it is perfectly fine to request an estimated timeline for when to expect the written offer. A brief email to the recruiter at this stage of the interview process can include these clarifying questions while simultaneously expressing gratitude and reaffirming your level of professionalism. 

Requesting clarification may seem daunting, but the inquiry can be made in a few simple steps. In a brief email to the hiring manager or HR person, begin by showing your appreciation for the opportunity. Then, politely ask for an estimated timeline on when to expect a written offer. You may also include any clarifying questions you may have in regard to salary, benefits, or job responsibilities. Keep in mind that honest discussions at this early stage in the hiring process may save you from uncomfortable misunderstandings later. 

The Importance of Patience

This period of the hiring process can be especially challenging because of the uncertainty the job search may bring. You may find yourself overthinking or consumed with anxiety during this time. Here are some points that will help you remain patient and calm:

    • Remember that delays are very normal. Keep in mind that employers have their own unique hiring procedures that must be followed; these are often lengthy because they involve multiple people and departments.
    • Do not allow impatience to cloud your judgment. Rushed decisions should not be made out of impatience. As you wait to hear from the recruiter or hiring manager, keep a clear mind and focus on the anticipated written offer which will provide more details to aid your decision-making. 
    • Seek out ways to relax. With the tendency to overthink during a job search or hiring process, you may benefit from expressing these thoughts and emotions to a mentor, friend, or counselor. Mindfulness exercises such as meditation will also aid in retaining mental clarity.
  • Maintain professionalism in the process. Because hold-ups are common within both a job hunt and interview process, there’s no need to view a delay as a red flag. It’s important to remain courteous and composed during the wait.

Clarifying Expectations

Use the written offer waiting period as an opportunity to clarify your own knowledge of the job position and its responsibilities. Communication as a means of clarification will help you as a candidate make the most informed decision and ensure you have a comprehensive understanding of the offer. You may want to seek clarification on unclear or ambiguous aspects of the verbal offer through a follow-up email or phone call, such as:

Salary and Benefits

It is important to understand all types of benefits that your employer offers, such as healthcare, retirement plans, and paid time off. Job search sites such as Linkedin may not disclose this level of detail; having clarification on these benefits will help aid in the decision process. Here are some useful MBA starting salary statistics.

Job Responsibilities

As a candidate, you have the right to understand and inquire about all details of your prospective job, such as specific duties, reporting structure, and performance expectations. Additionally, you may want to inquire specifically about how success is measured in the role, including performance reviews and evaluations.


It is crucial that you clarify any contingencies attached to the job offer. Background checks, drug tests, or the successful completion of ongoing projects are all contingencies you should seek clarification on.

Start Date

Even before a written contract offer, be honest with your potential employer about date flexibility. Verbalize adjustments you may need with the job’s start date, and follow up on any calendar ambiguities. Employers often need to sign off on schedule changes quite early; the more detail in communication you can offer, the better.

Company Culture

Keep in mind that your company’s culture will have a significant impact on your day-to-day experience and work/life balance. Ask questions about the company’s culture, values, and expectations to ensure they align with your own. Compare them with your current employer or current job to determine whether a change is best.

Regardless of which job offer aspect you need to seek clarification on, remember to approach communication with a professional and courteous tone.

clarifying job expectations

When to Seek Legal or Professional Advice

While not always necessary, there are periods in the hiring process where professional and/or legal opinion may be beneficial or even essential.

Seeking professional or legal advice is advisable in scenarios such as: 

  • Salary Negotiation: If you are unsure about a salary offer, you should reach out for advice and clarification on salary range and compensation packages, as well as the best methods of maneuvering through the negotiation process.
  • Concerns About Unfair Treatment: Any concerns about unfair or inequitable treatment should be addressed with the aid of professional opinion.
  • Complex Contracts: When a written contract of employment is offered, a legal team can help you understand what you are agreeing to and advise on requesting changes.
  • Contractual Disputes: If a follow-up email or phone call doesn’t amend a conflict, a legal team can help navigate contractual disputes by helping you understand your contractual rights as an employee.

In addition to the scenarios above, seeking professional advice from a career counselor or a mentor can be helpful in various circumstances, such as: 

  • Career Fit: A mentor can help you evaluate your career choice based on various aspects such as personality, passions, skills, and career goals. For instance, if project management is your passion, then a career in management consulting would be a great fit.
  • Negotiation Strategy: Career counselors aid in job negotiation strategies, reinforce the value that you offer, and help you prepare for a positive negotiation process with your prospective employer.
  • Company Research: The more you know about your prospective employer, especially during a hold-up, the better. A trusted mentor can aid in researching a company’s background, history, and values.
  • Decision Making: A second opinion never hurts, especially from a trusted professional. A career counselor can help you organize your thoughts through the hiring process in order to help you make the right choice.

Preparing for Different Outcomes

As you journey through the hiring and job offer process, it is important to remember various outcomes are possible. Preparing mentally and emotionally for a range of possibilities will help you navigate the outcome more effectively.

Once a verbal offer has been extended, it is very likely that you will receive a call from the recruiter or hiring manager with a formal written offer. Excitement as this stage is normal and expected, but don’t let your emotions cloud your decision-making. Visualize a plan for this scenario and move through it accordingly; review the written offer carefully to prepare for a smooth transition into the new role.

Patience is key when it comes to a delayed written offer. Maintain open communication with the HR department and hiring manager through the hiring process, and politely request clarification if necessary.

Final Thoughts

Navigating a verbal job offer can be challenging and at times anxiety-inducing; it can be all too easy to let worry take over while waiting for the security of a formal written offer. Whether you are just beginning a job search or feel stuck waiting for a response, understanding how to be proactive will help you navigate the process with clarity and confidence. Remember that while uncertainty may arise, you can use these tools to help guide you through the process with knowledge, professionalism, and patience.