This is a follow up to my other question.

In November last year I accepted an informal offer of a position at a university outside my country of residence. Since then, I have in good faith withdrawn all my other applications and stopped applying elsewhere as I understood that my acceptance of the offer was binding.

I have now applied for the job formally as they told me to. Recently I enquired about the status and according to them the evaluation of applications will be concluded next week and I was also told that I am in a very good position.

I know now that I should avoid this kind of practice, but I am in it already, and what I fear finally comes. Does 'a very good position' mean that there is a possibility that I will not get the job? What should I do if it turns out that I do not get the job in the end? Can I even start applying for other jobs now or should I wait till next week? The problem is that my current contract ends this month and I have to leave the country next month. I have a family to feed and to provide a home for.

The following is added after the first two answers below are posted:

Although the position was not yet advertised before I accepted the offer, I had always thought that this was a real offer, since they already said things like they were looking forward to welcoming me in the group and that they would get in touch with me to finalise my contract (all this was said in writing).

I guess my question is, is there nothing I can do with all the email correspondences in which the promise and my acceptance of the job were all recorded? From the answers already given below, it seems that there is nothing I could do with it except to learn not to make the same mistake again. But then, can the university just walk away like that?

Of course all this is still hypothetical, and hopefully I still get the job as promised, but I would appreciate if someone who has been in the same situation could share his/her experience and how they dealt with it, just in case.

Update: The university in question has lived up to their promise and I have now been formally offered the position.

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    The only real job offer is written, in the formal way. I understand why you withdrawn/stopped applying, but, realistically, it was not a very safe idea. Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 13:45
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    @FábioDias, every academia.stackexchange member is encouraged to do that. It would be unfair to the other parties if the truth is that I have accepted an offer elsewhere.
    – adipro
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 13:49
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    My experience agrees with @Dilworth -- I received a job offer by email; after I accepted the over via email, I withdrew my other applications, though I didn't receive a formal letter for a few weeks.If someone on the hiring committee emails you and offers you a job, that seems fairly official; I suppose it wouldn't hurt to check if the offer is binding and ask if it is safe to withdraw other applications, although I wouldn't have thought to do that.
    – bmurph
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 16:08
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    @Dilworth, "This is not a FORMAL offer, but it is biding" No this is not binding. In the USA it means nothing. If you are in a "at will" state it means even less.
    – NDEthos
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 17:52
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    "very good position" sounds like the committee wants you. Problem is, there may be some regulations or some people whose permission they need before they can send out the contract, which is, in my opinion, reading the entrails of the present case, why they do not give a binding promise. So, there is a (small, but nonzero) chance that they may have to retract their offer. Anyway, you are already that far, you retracted other activities, and with only one week to go, you probably just wait. Or else, just contact them briefly again to see how everything progresses if you feel very worried. Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 5:52

2 Answers 2


I think the other answer is decent, but OP seems to think that his/her question is not being addressed, so here goes:

What should I do if I have accepted an offer informally but am denied the job?

Apply to other jobs, of course.

Does 'a very good position' mean that there is a possibility that I will not get the job?

Anything is possible until you receive and accept a formal offer of employment.

What should I do if it turns out that I do not get the job in the end?

Forget about that opportunity and start applying for other positions.

Can I even start applying for other jobs now or should I wait till next week?

You can/should be applying/interviewing for other opportunities until you have obtained and accepted a formal offer.

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    I would even go further: Usually, during the first months of employment, your contract can be terminated immediately every day, even in continental Europe, where long-standing employees can have a legal period of notice of a full year. Until that period is over, have some backup plan in the drawer.
    – Alexander
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 21:25
  • This seems to be contrary to the advice I got here: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/58483/…
    – adipro
    Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 4:36
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    @adipro "accepted" means officially accepting a firm offer.
    – Davidmh
    Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 6:43

Until you have formally accepted a job, there is no need to withdraw from any other job application process.

It is very common at my university for us to go as far as offering someone a job, and them to not accept it as they received a better offer from elsewhere. Certainly this is slightly annoying, but no-one would suggest it is bad, or unethical behaviour.

In this case, it sounds like you might have been over-promised. It is also possible (and we can't know unfortunately) they are hedging their bets. The person you are talking to probably can't promise you the job, so they are trying to encourage you, without stating anything which they could be caught on later.

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    Yes, I understand, but you are not addressing my question.
    – adipro
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 14:35

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