A company is interested in a person as a potential employee, and contacts that person. The company's representative describes the role, advertises the benefits, interviews the person etc.

You would call this a job offer(ing?), except the word offer in this context has acquired a very specific meaning: the final phase of the negotiations, when the company is committed to hiring the person and sends a formal job offer listing the salary etc.

Before the formal offer happens, what do you call this?

Example contexts:

  1. Thank you, but I am not interested in your [offer].
  2. I am considering two other [offers] at the moment.
  • 2
    It starts off as a suggestion or proposal. – Tim Lymington Oct 19 '15 at 13:20
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    I'll go with 'proposal' as well. – chasly - supports Monica Oct 19 '15 at 13:45
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    I don’t fully get the difference between ‘offer’ and ‘proffer’ so I’ll comment instead of answer, but the origins of ‘proffer’ and this Wikipedia entry seem to say that “A proffer is an offer made prior to[/before, from the Latin ‘pro’] any formal negotiations,” which might make it appropriate in your case. – Papa Poule Oct 19 '15 at 16:02
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    To clarify, you refer to the "offer" before a candidate has been interviewed for the position? Whereas the real offer happens after a successful interview? – MSalters Oct 19 '15 at 16:12
  • Proffer is indeed a word, but it is not used in job negotiations, and neither the meaning nor the etymology in the Wikipedia entry are correct (I cannot say whether this is ignorance or a practical joke). – Tim Lymington Oct 19 '15 at 22:38

15 Answers 15


All the current answers are using language that is perhaps correct as a definition, but not what would actually work in your situation.

The word you want to use in your phrases is "opportunity." A job opportunity is when there is the opportunity for a job. Nearly no company would describe this as a job offer until an actual job offer has been made.

It is also a very general term that can be used regardless of which stage you are in the process. This has the added benefit of not being presumptuous of your application state. You could for example turn down another interview request or a formal offer or an informal offer all with the same word.

An interview request is NOT an offer in nearly all cases.

  • Thank you, but I am not interested in this opportunity.
  • I am considering two other opportunities at the moment.

However, once they commit to making an offer it would be considered a "verbal offer." This is the state where the company has indicated they intend to give you a formal job offer, but not the actual paperwork yet. It might include as you describe the expected salary but doesn't include all the specific information.

In this case, I would still use the word opportunity in both the above contexts. The reason is that while well intentioned a verbal offer does not guarantee a formal offer. On The Workplace we get questions about this all the time. But it is still an opportunity.

A company is interested in a person as a potential employee, and contacts that person. The company's representative describes the role, advertises the benefits, interviews the person etc.

When the job is available to apply for, you would consider it a job posting / position. Once you have applied, but without having reciprocated interest, it'd become a job application. It can be considered to become an opportunity once you have communication back/forth from the company.

  • Smattering of opinions not worth a full answer: "opportunity" may be optimistic, and there's little harm in that. But to signal reticence (or simply less enthusiasm), a better word choice might be "proposal" or "suggestion". Calling it an "offer" may be premature. "position" and "opening" may not be quite true. "prospective offer" is perhaps overly optimistic. – Aaron Hall Oct 20 '15 at 16:36
  • "Smattering of opinions not worth a full answer" ... you might as well assert this whole site should be closed-down, Aaron. – Fattie Dec 14 '15 at 15:37

The term position is much broader

a post of employment; job


While it is routinely used to describe an existing employment (What is your position in the company?), it is regularly used to describe prospective jobs.

It would fit in the context of both your examples.

  • Open position would exclude existing employment. – MSalters Oct 19 '15 at 16:13
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    +1 I think this is the most natural/least awkward way to fill in the OP’s two blanks (although I’d change “your position” to “the or this position" to avoid sounding like you were after the recruiter’s job!). (But, and you might agree, it wouldn’t work so well in all contexts to mean “a job offer that isn't a real offer yet.”) – Papa Poule Oct 19 '15 at 16:31

Well, I have a sort of "non-answer". And that is that in common usage for those 2 exact examples you don't typically refer to an "offer" (or whatever you want to call it), you refer to the opening/position itself. Especially since no actual offer has been made.

Thank you, but I am not interested in your position.

I am considering two other openings at the moment.

A head-hunter contacting you about a position does not in any way imply that you are any closer to an offer than if you had contacted them about it, so no "tentative/prospective offer" language is needed.

I once worked for a company that had such a division (what I refer to as "head-hunters", staffing experts that sought out potential employees for a job opening). They contacted enough people to hold full rounds of interviews, you had no more likeliness of getting the job just because it was one that they were contacting you about vs. one you applied for. In fact, they purposefully would find very lowly qualified people and send them in to the interviewers to up the likelihood of the company taking someone (and therefore them getting their commission for finding them) by making the regular people look more qualified by comparison. So those people definitely were not any closer to a real offer, they were basically sacrifices.

If some sort of unofficial/spoken offer has actually been made (the OP does not specify it has, but for the sake of thoroughness), then it would technically would be called exactly that: an unofficial offer, and it would be completely appropriate to just refer to it as an "offer".

Thank you, but I am not interested in your offer.

Provisional offer does not fit here at all, because that is an actual offer that has been made but with provisions/conditions. That does not seem to be the case.

Prospective offer and potential offer fits the description the OP gives (i.e. an offer is expected but not yet actually given), but not at all the examples given. You wouldn't tell them you're rejecting their prospective offer that hasn't even been given yet, you'd tell them you reject the position (like the beginning of my answer). Likewise you wouldn't tell one potential employer you have "prospective offers" elsewhere. Until an offer has actually been made you'd still just say that they are other "openings" or "positions" you're interested in.

That's what makes this question a little hard to answer: the description and the examples don't actually fully mesh. You tend to be answering for one or the other.

  • I don't understand why you call this a "non-answer".  IMO, "position" and "opening" (and "opportunity") are the best answers to this question. – Scott Oct 19 '15 at 17:36
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    @Scott - I guess I think of it that way because he's asking for a word to describe a type of non-existent offer whereas I'm telling that that's not what he should be doing at all. Sort of a "here's the answer to the question you should be asking" type thing. – Jimbo Jonny Oct 19 '15 at 18:13

It's a provisional offer.

See this standard UK HR industry letter template (from pohwer.net)

"Once I have heard back from you confirming that you have received this letter and are accepting my provisional offer of employment, I will contact your referees"

From provisional:

subject to later alteration; temporary or conditional: a provisional decision (-- Collins)

  • I would go with provisional. – user140086 Oct 19 '15 at 13:47
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    This is specific to a later phase of negotiation, where the offer is conditional on external factors. My interpretation of the question suggests this is about an earlier phase of negotiations. – MSalters Oct 19 '15 at 16:10
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    I'l have to be the contrarian here. A provisional offer is an actual official offer that has provisions/conditions worded into it. Nothing the OP states seems to say there is an actual offer (provisional or otherwise) that has been made. – Jimbo Jonny Oct 19 '15 at 16:53
  • Provisional, that's the one. – PCARR Oct 19 '15 at 17:11
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    "tentative" is probably an acceptable synonym in this vein. – Aaron Hall Oct 20 '15 at 16:29

I think you may refer to it as a prospective (job) offer:

  • potential, likely, or expected.

The Free Dictionary

  • 1
    I have - I don't know if that's a regonalised thing, but prospective job offer, prospective placement, etc. are valid ways of referring to something. – Sobrique Oct 19 '15 at 16:58

Opening - noun - 8. an employment vacancy; an unfilled position or job:

  • Let's put that in one of the OP's examples, shall we? "Thank you, but I am not interested in your opening". Unfortunately that doesn't scan very well for real life job situations, it would be appropriate in a Carry-On film though! (In case you don't know - the Carry-On films are famous for their double-entendres.) – AndyT Oct 20 '15 at 9:37
  • @AndyT - Not sure what you're talking about, that word is extremely commonly used in that exact context. I've many times heard staffers talk about an opening they have, and heard the subjects of their efforts also refer to said openings. – Jimbo Jonny Oct 20 '15 at 15:56
  • @JimboJonny - Sorry, I wasn't very clear. I think that opening is a valid word to refer to a job which a company is recruiting for, and works fine in phrases such as "We have an opening currently which might suit you". But in the specific example phrases given by the OP, even responding to the phrase I just gave, opening just sounds wrong to me. Other answers (such as position) seem a much better fit to my ear. – AndyT Oct 20 '15 at 16:05
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    @AndyT - I disagree. If it's perfectly normal for a staffer to say "We have an opening." then responding "I'm not interested in your opening" works just fine. I have also heard such language used often. – Jimbo Jonny Oct 20 '15 at 16:35

I would probably use the word "tentative":

not certain or fixed; provisional.

not fully worked out or developed

It's a sort of 'offer of an offer' which I think would be appropriate here. They are tentatively offering you something, but with the implication that it's not a firm commitment by either party.


I'd argue it's not a provisional offer because the job is still to be offered to the candidate. The process described here is called head-hunting.

  • +1 This meets my understanding of the situation as described by the OP. Head-hunting is where the company has a role to fill, identifies people who would fit it, and contacts them. The actual position is still subject to interview etc. - the difference to normal recruitment is who made the first step (i.e. the company rather than the person). – AndyT Oct 19 '15 at 15:32
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    That said... it doesn't fit with the OP's example contexts. – AndyT Oct 19 '15 at 15:34
  • While I agree with your first sentence, I don't think you are offering a viable [word] to replace [offer]. "I am not interested in your head hunting". Not really. – Floris Oct 21 '15 at 12:40

Prospect works for your question and your second example. Less so for your first.

Opportunity works for both (though I'd go with "this..." rather than "your...").


I would substitute your examples as follows:

Thank you, but I am not interested in your [VACANCY].

I am considering two other [POSITIONS] at the moment.

I am amazed that "vacancy" has not been included as an answer yet (only a as a definiton in an answer.) It fits perfectly in the sentence above.

There is one other important phrase:

I'm sorry. The [POST] has been filled


Sorry, I'm not interested in your offer.

I"m considering two other offers at the moment.

is the most likely answer that Joe and Jane Doe would give to a job opportunity they are not interested in.

  • If they had actually received an offer of some sort (official or unofficial), yes. But interview does not necessarily equal offer. If someone called and told me that after I had interviewed them and made no sort of offer yet I think my reply would be "No shit sherlock, it's not a very interesting offer because I haven't made you an offer." – Jimbo Jonny Oct 20 '15 at 16:01

(Edited for clarity)

That type of overture is called a 'feeler', as in a sensory organ.

"I received a feeler regarding a job opening"

From OED (via Google):

'A tentative proposal intended to ascertain someone's attitude or opinion. "he put out feelers about seeking the party nomination" "the committee put out feelers"

Synonyms: tentative inquiry/proposal, advance, approach, overture, probe '

My opinion follows:

A tactful response to a feeler should not contain the words 'feeler' or 'offer'. The first is gauche, and the second is not accurate. Don't try to characterize their intent, just speak to their words.

For your first example, you could try something like, "Thank you for your interest (or 'consideration'), but I couldn't accept a position as (X) at this time..." Notice the future tense. By using "couldn't" you acknowledge that an offer has not been made.

The intent of the second example isn't clear. If you need more time to consider, you should explicitly request a specific amount of time. Otherwise, they may think you are saying "No".


There a many words to choose from, and the right one to use depends on the degree of progress made in developing the relationship.

  1. If there isn't even a well-defined job description, but the company is likely to hire someone, I'd call it an opportunity.
  2. If there is a job description, then I would call it a vacancy, opening, or position.
  3. After a favourable interview, you're now a candidate. At this stage, to decline to proceed, as in your first example, I would say Thank you, but I am no longer interested in this position.
  4. If there is a mutual desire to proceed, then you enter a negotiation. Your second example could be worded as I am negotiating two other offers at the moment. "Negotiating" makes it clear that you haven't reached final agreement yet.
  5. The company would usually make a conditional or provisional offer, subject to verification of references, etc. At this stage, you could say that you decline the offer. The company can withdraw the offer (but that would generally require some kind of justification).

"Projected position" might work, just please mind, nobody hires people before they register the company :)



Well, you can call it as "letter of intent"

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