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How to handle multiple job offers.
May 28, 2010 9:16 AM   Subscribe

Please advise me on how to handle this delicate work situation.

As someone not too familiar with navigating the jobmarket, I let my naivety back me into a corner I can't see a way out of. I was offered and accepted a significant promotion at my current workplace, but made the mistake of admitting that I was being considered for another (even better) position at a different company when they noticed and asked about my initial hesitation when I accepted. Now they are considering rescinding the offer because they are afraid I will get the other job and waste their time training me in, only to leave shortly thereafter. I understand their concern, and in fact I told them because I feel loyal to them and wanted to be upfront. I had thought that the other company would have made a decision before I would have started my new position anyway, but they ended up having to unexpectedly push back their hiring process and won't be making a decision until about 2 weeks after I would have been training. Now I am not sure what course of action would best protect my interests.

Based on the thought that I would at least have this new promotion, I quit my second job. I will not be able to live on my pay if they rescind the offer and I have to go back to my prior job at this organization. The promotion will look much better on my resume and will give me more transferable skills, but the pay increase is not very significant and there is not much room for advancement in this organization. The outside position, on the other hand, would be a substantial pay increase, a better schedule, and would be an entry into the exact field I am looking to build a career in.

In retrospect (and after looking through old Askmes), I realize that it was really stupid to say anything about the outside job application, and it would have been better for everyone if I would have waited it out until I knew for sure what was happening. If I didn't get the outside job I would have at least had my promotion, and if I had gotten it I could have broken it to them something unexpected that I had applied for long before. I know that many people applied for the promotion, so they could have quickly filled the position after I left. Now, because I told them, they are compelled to do something about it--and I could end up with neither job. I am at a total loss.

I can see a couple possible courses of action: I could forgo pursuing the outside job and promise my current organization that they can start training me in confident that I will stick around. OR I could stand aside and let them promote someone else in the hopes that this outside job will work out--if I didn't get the outside job, I would have to search for another full time position outside my current company and hope something would work out. OR I could propose a kind of compromise to them--that in return for my loyalty and looking out for their interests, they could look out for mine and train me in on things that would allow me to start working right away, alleviating the pressure on them being short staffed. (They have been working without someone in this position for a month or so now) I would know in 2 weeks whether I got the other position, and if I didn't I could just continue training in on the more difficult parts of the job after that. If I did, I would still work if they wanted me for 2 more weeks, or they could hire someone else right away. Is that completely unreasonable?

I have been advised to accept the promotion but be willing to leave (even after convincing them I would not) if I got the outside job, but I just can't see myself doing that to them.

Two weeks ago I thought that, no matter what, I was leaving behind the stressful days of having two jobs and being ashamed of what I was doing for a living. I felt like I was turning a corner and changing my life in positive ways. Now it's possible that I have ruined my chances for this better job, and have lost the extra income that even made it possible for me to live on my prior job. I feel like I am being punished for being trusting and trying to look out for my organization's interests. I didn't want to screw them over, so instead I did myself in. I could use any advice, because I really don't know what to do.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I just can't see myself doing that to them.

Well, by offering you something and then taking it away, they're doing that to you, so why would you hold yourself to a higher standard? This is purely business, and you have to take care of yourself. As much as it sucks to disappoint people you've spent so much time earning respect from, in 6 months no one will remember or care about this, whereas you'll be miserable 6 months from now if you stay and try to gut it out on too little income.
posted by hermitosis at 9:29 AM on May 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


There's no shame in lying. Tell them that you were not given an offer from the other outfit. If you do, in fact, get an offer, then yes - YOU SHOULD DO THAT TO THEM.

(One caveat - I'm assuming that, as with 90+% of US jobs, this is an "at-will" employment situation. If they have you bound to an employment contract, then your options are very restricted, and you'll need the help of a lawyer to see what you can do. This does not apply for most people, though.)
posted by Citrus at 9:35 AM on May 28, 2010


Don't "lie" to anyone...the karma will come back and bite you in the ass. If you want the position you've been offered, let them know, send a letter to the other company telling them you're no longer interested and cc a copy to your current employer.

If you really want the other job, let your current employer know "thanks, but no thanks" to the promotion and hope for the best.
posted by HuronBob at 9:40 AM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have been advised to accept the promotion but be willing to leave (even after convincing them I would not) if I got the outside job, but I just can't see myself doing that to them.

Your life is way too short to pass up an opportunity to further your career and make enough money to have one job to hold onto one that can't pay your bills on its own for the sake of "loyalty." Look at it this way: your company could've looked at your other prospects as a reason to sweeten the pot and instead, they threatened to take the promotion away from you. Is that the kind of place you want to work at?
posted by Hiker at 9:42 AM on May 28, 2010 [11 favorites]


but I just can't see myself doing that to them.

Go back and read the old AskMe questions some more. Since they have others ready to grab this promotion so you won't even really be putting them out. Do what is best for you. They didn't hesitate to un-offer this promotion when they were doing what was best for the company.
posted by mikepop at 9:44 AM on May 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Here's what you do:

1. Go to them, say that you have given it a lot of thought, and you want to make it clear: you understand the mention of the outside job concerned them about your commitment, but that you're fully committed to the team/company, excited and thrilled about the promotion, and have no intention of leaving the company now that this promotion has been offered to you. Then state that you are similarly concerned about their commitment to you, because they offered then threatened to rescind the promotion, so you need the same commitment from them, that you are indeed going to be promoted by [date]. That way everyone involved can put this uncertainty to bed, and everyone can get back to work."

2. In the meantime, keep your options open with the other company, and find out whether you can go back to your second job in case the promotion falls through.

If you get promoted, great. If you don't get promoted, you still have (potentialy) the second job and new job. If you get promoted AND get the new job, you can pick the one you want more.

The point being, they're not loyal to you, they're a business, and treat you accordingly. They invest a certain amount of training in you, taking the risk that you will be trained and then leave, in return for the potential reward that you will stay and help them run their business more effectively. You invest a certain amount of time in the company, taking the risk that you will be laid off or left stagnant in a dead-end position, in return for the potential reward that you will be given raises and promotions to reward your performance.

So you've hit a tricky spot where you believe you'll probably be left stagnant, and they believe you'll probably leave. Proactively and assertively working to eliminate that doubt on their side, by claiming you're no longer uncertain about your intentions, and need to know that they aren't either, seems a reasonable way to address this tricky spot and move on.

But make no mistake: it will not be loyalty that determines whether you're promoted or not -- it will be their own assessment of your flight risk, and they've said as much. Protect yourself, and don't hesitate to leave for greener pastures (or stick it out if they come through, if it's what's best for you.)
posted by davejay at 10:09 AM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The only interests a company is out to protect are its own. Employees are valuable to a company only insofar as they further a company's bottom line. Loyalty doesn't factor into it: they'll fire you in a heartbeat if they think you're a threat to their success.

Keep this in mind as you pursue what's best for you.
posted by hollisimo at 10:22 AM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Job loyalty is overrated. I wish it wasn't. The fact is, your job is likely not as loyal to you as you are to it. Usually, unless you have it in writing, your job is not loyal to you at all.

Take your loyalty out of the equation and see where it leads you.
posted by jabberjaw at 10:43 AM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've been working in my field for over 15 years. Every decision I made based on loyalty and "being good," I regret. In fact, those moves not only screwed me over professionally and financially, but emotionally as well, because loyalty is not something that's genuinely rewarded unless you're employee #12 or something.

Every move I've made based on logic and what was long-term better for me -- not lying, not being underhanded, but focusing on my goals and honestly what the person I wish I were would do -- has turned out awesome.
posted by Gucky at 11:36 AM on May 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Agree with everyone that the answer here is to lie. If you're worried about how to explain it after the fact, you can say this, "They had told me that they had someone else lined up and I was their second choice but had just missed it. That person fell through at the last minute and even though I thought it was done with, it wasn't. I'm very sorry, but I need to take this offer for my own future. I love working at this company and I'm sorry to do this to you guys, but I'll do whatever you need to smooth the transition."
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 11:39 AM on May 28, 2010


I hate that the world is like this, but there is no real loyalty in the workplace. Threatening to take away your promotion was the best evidence of this. you need to look out for yourself so lie if you have to, fudge the facts if you have to, but look out for yourself first. Good luck and I hope you get that other job.
posted by murrey at 12:07 PM on May 28, 2010


"They had told me that they had someone else lined up and I was their second choice but had just missed it. That person fell through at the last minute and even though I thought it was done with, it wasn't. I'm very sorry, but I need to take this offer for my own future. I love working at this company and I'm sorry to do this to you guys, but I'll do whatever you need to smooth the transition."

Alternatively, when this has happened to me I've sat down and figured out what (if anything) my current employer could do to keep me, then gone to my current employer and said "They contacted me, I let them know I was no longer interested, but then they made an offer -- and it's the kind of offer I'd be incredibly foolish to pass up from both a position and compensation perspective. I'd still rather stay here, though; this is a great job, I love the people I work with and for, and I like the amount of challenge I'm expected to deal with. So I know you won't be able to match their offer, and I don't expect you to, but if you can get me these things, I'll stay committed to you, without hesitation or back-and-forth: [the things you need]"

Depending on your attitude about the new position, [the things you need] might be legitimate, reasonable and still lower than the other company's offer -- or they might be a shoot-for-the-moon hail mary that they're likely to turn down but you'd be a fool to pass up if they gave it to you. Since you're not bluffing, there's no risk.

If you really don't want to risk them accepting your hail-mary, of course, you just say the first part: They contacted me, I let them know I was no longer interested, but then they made an offer -- and it's the kind of offer I'd be incredibly foolish to pass up from the perspective of position, compensation and benefits. For the sake of my career and my family's well-being, I have decided to take the position." If they request an opportunity to counter, just say "I'm grateful you're willing -- I appreciate knowing you value me and want me to continue with the company -- I really doubt you'll be able to meet the level of their offer, but if you want to make a counteroffer I will absolutely consider it."
posted by davejay at 12:08 PM on May 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


forgot to mention: to date, I've gotten the hail-mary every time, which is why I don't recommend setting a crazy-high one if you really want to leave, because you might get it, and that would be awkward.
posted by davejay at 12:09 PM on May 28, 2010


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