Backed out of a job under duress. Thinking of sending a follow up letter to perhaps explain the circumstances and perhaps soften their perception of me. Good or bad idea?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I applied for a job in March/April of this year. It was for a teaching position in my dream city and would start with the new school year (late Aug.) I have been teaching for 13 years in the same place, which is also my hometown. I don't like where I live, but became more rooted as I bought property, put in more years at my job, and was dealing with aging parents. However, I had not planned to move unless I got the job, and mainly wanted to see if anything would come of it.
Since it was a teaching position advertised in March, I always believed that if I got the job, I would know in advance to prepare to move, ideally, a good portion of the summer. While I waited in anticipation I did a few things to prepare such as decluttering my house, and working to sell one of my homes (I had planned to do this anyway). I did not hear from the school until June for an interview, which was also the same time my dad died. In fact, I almost declined the interview as I was not sure what I could handle, however, I ultimately went, and it seemed to go well. However, it was not clear that I was a top candidate or that I was even being seriously considered for the job. I did use my summer to do as much decluttering and getting rid of things as I could. As time passed, I felt less and less like anything would happen, and if it did, I was getting dangerously close to the start of the year, and likewise, it was going to become less and less ideal to make a move. Eventually, I heard from them, at the near end of July to say that I was not going to be picked. I was sad, and spent time lamenting, etc., but knew that a move at that point would have been hard. Two weeks later, however, they called and offered it to me. I was greatly torn. I had been wanting this for so long, but at this point, I only had a small window of time to move. We were able to negotiate a small bit of extra time, but the total time from offer to start date, was 20 days, and since the move was 800 miles away, at least 2 of those days would include driving there.
In the following 2 weeks, I worked like crazy to pack up my house, find a tenant, and find a place to live in the new place. I had a small moving budget and could not afford to hire full service movers, though I did manage to get some cheap help and began making a dent in what needed to be done. However, even with the best of intentions, I was not getting anywhere fast, and was spinning my wheels trying. I did investigate a lot of options, such as renting my place furnished temporarily, renting a room in new location temporarily, etc. and had done lots of prior research on moving companies places to live, etc., but in the short time line of 2.5 ish weeks, things were not coming together very well. I was very nervous throughout this time and there were several days I could not get out of bed. I stopped eating/sleeping and was operating in sheer panic. At this point, to leave on time, meant leaving without a lot done, and trying to work things out from a distance.
At the end of the two weeks, I contacted the school with my concerns. What were my options? Ideally, since I had just agreed to take the position, I thought they might allow me more time, or, worst case, allow me to rescind my agreement, no harm done. The teachers union contacted HR on my behalf who was very upset and said that if I backed out, they would blackball me. They would allow one additional week, but that was it. This added more fear to my already highly nervous state of mind. Blackballing meant they would tell other schools about me and I would not be able to be hired anywhere else in the future. After this, I became very ill and almost despondent. I saw my doc who offered anxiety pills, but also suggested waiting to start the new job, bcs I was in such a poor state mentally. I was not sure a week would really help at that point and began to fear that if I went out there and had any further difficulty, that they would fire me and I would be in a strange city jobless. I did not want to tell my new job about the anxiety issues. Instead, I spoke to my prospective supervisor the weekend before I was due to start. I reiterated the problems I was having without specifically saying anything about the panic. She seemed frustrated, and said that she could not keep holding the job for me and needed my decision by the following day.
So, I wrote a letter to her/HR asking to be released from the position. I could not, in that moment, fathom getting there in time to start, and more importantly prepared to start (mentally). I did not hear anything back from them, and saw the position reposted the same night. After my initial feeling of relief after the situation was behind me, I started to feel great regret, and it has plagued me for weeks. I have had a few people in my life suggest that I write a follow-up letter. A letter to explain what happened in greater detail and offer additional apologies. The hope is that the letter would soften their perspective of the events that lead up to me backing out, and perhaps lessen the chance of blackballing. However, from a legal perspective, although IANAL, it seems that less is more and that the letter may only re-stir the pot. I am not sure what to do?
Clarification point: I was able to keep the job I already had because my resignation was not effective yet.