Should I go work for one company (1-2 month) while waiting for another company's offer?
May 15, 2009 6:42 AM   Subscribe

Should I accept the offer from company "A", knowing full well that I would go work for company "B" in 1-2 month? I'm sure 99% that B's offer will come, but should I do this as a way of hedging my bets?

Hello, fellow hiveminds. I need to ask you guys (gals) something work related, and so I must be anonymous. [Also, English isn't my first language, so please excuse my grammar/spelling.)

I'm 27 years old, got Bachelor in Engineering and Master in Finance. I used to work as a software developer for almost 4 years, then went for a master in the US. Now I have returned and live in Asia. (my hometown)

I got my master recently and have a bit of an "identity crisis". I'm not sure which career path I want to pursue -- in IT or Finance. (I know, it's a bit silly but that's another post all together)

So what I did was sending resumes to both IT and Finance companies. While waiting for the companies to respond (a few weeks), I finally figured it out that I want to go the Finance route. Shortly after that I got an interview, and then an offer from Company A. Nice pays, nice benefits. I also talked with company B and also got an "acceptance" in principle.

I must elaborate about A & B a bit. Company A is a big US software company, specialising in Financial and Legal/consulting business. I don't have anything against A, it's just not the career path I want to pursue.

Company B is also a big international financial firm. I used to work as a programmer for a guy there (my boss) and after discussing with him and his superiors, they're very interested in me and told me that I'll be in his new business plan. Actually, I talked with him on and off about this opportunity since 5 months ago.

This position is the greatest you can ask for, for an entry level position.The problem is, they can't offer me anything concrete until (they are guessing) 1-2 months because of the new business plan. (approval, paperwork and all that)

The reason I'm confident about B's future offer is -- the Top executive at the company really likes me and even called me personally about this opportunity. So it's 95% confidence level for me.

Ok... really long background, sorry. my question is:

Should I accepted an offer from company A? It's a good deal for me, but I'd feel bad about company A. Would there be repercussions if I did? And Are there other [better] solutions?

I welcome all suggestions, and thank you so much for reading through all that.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If company A wants to hire you now they might still be interested in hiring your in a couple months. The first step would be to call them and see what their hiring schedule looks like, if they need someone right away or if they can wait and see.

A lot of big companies probably have complicated hiring procedures and restarting them can be a pain. And if you take the job just to leave it a month later then you'll probably be preventing someone else from getting a job as well.
posted by delmoi at 6:54 AM on May 15, 2009

No. Stall them with salary negotiations, take your time replying, etc., but it's rude to take the job knowing you'll leave so soon. Bad idea to piss off people in your field. Tell Company A you need more time. Tell Company B you need a commitment because you have a good offer on the table. No matter how much they seem to like you, hiring is very tight right now.
posted by theora55 at 7:07 AM on May 15, 2009

Would there be repercussions if I did?

For company A, having you on board for only 1-2 months will probably be worse than not hiring anyone. It costs money and time to bring someone new onto a team and get them up to speed, and they may have projects that will get delayed if they have to start over and hire someone else after you leave.

If you don't care about what happens to company A, it can affect you personally by looking bad on your resume. Leaving after such a short period of time doesn't have very many positive explanations, and if someone asks you about what happened in the interview and you're honest about it then they will still probably be less likely to hire you.

And Are there other [better] solutions?

If you need some sort of job while you wait for the job you want you can always try temping. At any rate, you should really try to find some sort of job where they would actually be happy with you only working there 1-2 months, because getting hired full-time usually comes with the expectation that you'll be there for longer than that.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:09 AM on May 15, 2009

you should take the offer company A has made. it is tangible whereas company B has not made an offer that will guarantee rent, they just said they would like to make one. perhaps. maybe. hopefully. but what if you decline company A's offer and B lets you wait another 2,3,5 months? what if they don't make an offer?

I think it's okay to accept it for now and if company B makes an offer go to A and say "I've gotten to know you guys and now know it's not for me, sorry." this of course depends on whether your industry is so small that they know each other. not an easy way to get out but you should still take the offer from A for now.
posted by krautland at 7:11 AM on May 15, 2009

You've seen this one ?
posted by Xhris at 7:13 AM on May 15, 2009

The problem is, they can't offer me anything concrete until (they are guessing) 1-2 months because of the new business plan. (approval, paperwork and all that)

The reason I'm confident about B's future offer is -- the Top executive at the company really likes me and even called me personally about this opportunity. So it's 95% confidence level for me.

I'd contact B and say that "A has a firm offer for me now. I'd prefer to work for you, but at the same time I need work. You say an offer is forthcoming, but in the absence of another offer I'm going to be compelled to accept A's offer. I would feel badly about accepting their offer but then leaving in two months to work for you. So if you want to hire me, I'll respectfully ask if we could come up with an offer now." You use A's offer to force B's hand. Happens all the time.

Then if B can't or won't come up with an immediate offer, then it doesn't exist, and you can forget all about B. You can't pay bills with verbal assurances or the supposed friendship of the executive at B.

As I see it, if the boss at B wants to hire you, he'd go ahead and do it, and forget about paperwork and budgets. The man is an executive, right? Why can't he make things happen? Why can't he tell HR, we need to hire this guy now, he's good, and if we don't we'll lose him, so make it happen?

If he truly wants to hire you, he'll do this. If not, he'll use this paperwork issue as an excuse, rather than telling you 'no' outright.
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 7:13 AM on May 15, 2009 [10 favorites]

I would try and stall with A. If in 1-2 months B does not come through then you have A as a backup. You could also just be straight forward with A and say I am entertaining other offers currently.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 7:20 AM on May 15, 2009

I had a similar situation a while back. Don't believe 1-2 months. The 1-2 months for B became 6-7. I had a guaranteed position there, but it was always two weeks away. Especially if they are dealing with approval and paperwork. IT WILL NOT TAKE 1-2 MONTHS - If there's no approval, they are probably just making up the date to keep you interested.

I don't regret working for job A. I was at "A" long enough to get a retention bonus, AND to find out that I wasn't really happy there. I actually tried to work with "A" quite a bit as it was a good company, and in the end, I left there knowing that I really tried to make it work, and nobody faulted me for leaving - I didn't burn any bridges.

You may find that you can make "A" work for you, or you may not. What it comes down to is that "A" has an offer right now without worrying about approval or paperwork - i.e. It actually exists, and it won't be a "Sorry, but we are still waiting for approval" game for the next few months.

The great news is that if A works, it works out well. If it doesn't, and B comes though, then bonus! If A doesn't work out great and B falls through, well, at least you have income.
posted by MysticMCJ at 7:32 AM on May 15, 2009

Just to add to MysticMCJ's and my earlier comments: often a person will not come right out and say, he does not or will not hire you. Instead he'll make excuses, oh your qualifications are interesting, but I can't hire you now because of this paperwork issue, but maybe in a short while something might open up...

Again, if the executive in question really wants you, he'll get you an offer now, especially if you let him know another offer is pending. If he doesn't get you an offer now, then an offer wasn't forthcoming in the first place.
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 8:00 AM on May 15, 2009

Yes take it, you have no idea if company B will come through with their offer, and if you leave after a month or two no reason to even put that company on your resume.
posted by zeoslap at 8:01 AM on May 15, 2009

Yes I'd take company A, and if B comes along, just quit. If B doesn't come along with an offer, then hey you still have a job.

Look at it like this, if company A hired you, and then their 'dream candidate' came along, they'd drop you in a hot minute. They're using you to make money, and you should look at them in the same way, just a tool to make you money. They're not doing you any favors by giving you money, it just happens to be that they think they can make money off of the work you do.

I realize that many future companies would look on it negatively if you leave in a month or two (for some reason or another), but if its really a month, just leave it off of your resume, and forget you ever worked there. If its 6 months - a year, don't worry about - just have an explanation prepared father down the road when you're interviewing for new jobs again. Obviously, you'd possibly be jeopardizing any future employment at company A, but that's just about all. Otherwise, no real risk to you.

Go for it, look out for yourself.
posted by jourman2 at 8:34 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have a similar background to you, and have also worked in both software/IT and finance. I generally agree with the comments above and won't echo their concerns, but another thing to consider in going for company A or B is that it isn't super easy to cross over from one industry to the other in case things go awry.

If you accept Company A's offer and Company B subsequently turns you down-- and despite what anyone tells you, unless you have an offer in hand, there's nothing stopping them from delaying or rescinding their verbal promise-- then you'll find yourself working for a software company while attempting to launch a career in finance. Won't be easy, as you know there are tons of software engineers at financial companies who long to move to the more finance side of things.

Maybe it'll serve you better to continue interviewing as a recent grad until you can find a company C in finance that is willing to hire you rather than doing something you've already done and don't want to continue.
posted by gushn at 8:48 AM on May 15, 2009

I think you are mistaken in believing that the job at "B" will come through. In my experience the term "new business plan" is a crock. If they really wanted to hire you, they wouldn't keep you hanging on. If they really wanted to hire you, they would hire you now. They wouldn't keep a great prospect waiting, knowing that the person could find another job in that time.

It's disrespectful of company "B" to keep you hanging on like this, without a concrete offer. I would be wary of a company that makes you wait like this. They have already made you wait 5 months. They don't seem eager to have you work there.

I would go with company "A." Maybe you will end up loving it there. At least company "A" hasn't strung you along for months.

Sorry if this comes off as harsh, but I have seen companies use the "new business plan" excuse to keep stringing people along for months on end.
posted by parakeetdog at 9:14 AM on May 15, 2009

Ask yourself this: If you pass on A, and the position at company B falls through, will you still be able to support yourself financially through another few months of job searching in a shitty economy?

For most people, I suspect that the answer is no. Take job A, and then if B makes you a better offer, put in your two weeks. You have to do what's best for yourself in this situation.
posted by chrisamiller at 9:25 AM on May 15, 2009

I was in a similar boat as you. My company B stretched the 1-2 months (I got the "new business plan" line, too) into almost a year. I turned down another offer to wait for them.

Ultimately, the other offer paid more. It was a dumb mistake. I should have seen, from how they stretched things out and strung me along, that my company B didn't care about me, or about their employees in general.

They give you promises, but promises don't pay rent.
posted by Kellydamnit at 9:26 AM on May 15, 2009

see if company B will hire you now and set a start date in a month or two if they need the time. Keep in mind, nowadays especially, business plans and suchlike are not guaranteed to be approved, so even if they want to hire you they might not be able to hire you.

Even though it is mildly jerky I think all things told I'd go ahead and get the guaranteed job, then switch down the road if need be, we are still in the middle of a recession (assuming you are in one of the many/most countries where this applies) and having a decent job counts for a lot, even if it is not the ideal job.

Most jobs have a probationary period, for the employer, just look at it as a probationary period for the employee.
posted by edgeways at 9:36 AM on May 15, 2009

If you don't care about what happens to company A, it can affect you personally by looking bad on your resume.

So why would he put it on his resume? You're not required to disclose every job you've ever had.
posted by delmoi at 11:02 AM on May 15, 2009

You could also just be straight forward with A and say I am entertaining other offers currently.

I'm not sure this is wise. Rather, it can be a good way to get A to rescind their original offer instead. I did this once when I was young and didn't know any better, and the company withdrew their offer within fifteen minutes of my telling them and gave it to someone else who was ready and willing to begin immediately.
posted by anderjen at 11:37 AM on May 15, 2009

If you don't care about what happens to company A, it can affect you personally by looking bad on your resume.

So why would he put it on his resume? You're not required to disclose every job you've ever had.

Yeah, that's a good point. Especially if future jobs are going to be in another field that's probably not much of an issue. It's usually not a good idea to burn bridges in general, but in this case it probably wouldn't have much of an impact on future opportunities.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:44 AM on May 15, 2009

Take job A. If job B pans out, you'll be in a better position to negotiate your compensation package at job B when the time comes. And if it doesn't, at least you'll have a job.
posted by junesix at 11:47 AM on May 15, 2009

I get that people take issue with this, but if a company hires you and decides a month or two later that their best interests are not served by employing you, you're gone. To me, they get what they give: a ruthless focus on best interests.

Agreed with various voices that things can look to be an eyelash away from being a done deal and not get done.

Quirky timing in that I just got an IM from a nephew who had a lot of reasons to be very confident about landing a groovy internship and--as you've probably guessed--he didn't get it.

As people have noted, it does sound odd that a "top exec" at a big international finance firm (allegedly) can't get this done in about, oh, four minutes.

I agree with the thought of putting your cards on the table with B, seeing what they have to say.

Oh, if you end up with A, any chance that after a year or so you could transfer to something in their finance department?
posted by ambient2 at 12:58 PM on May 15, 2009

I know you think you have Job B sewn up, but man, stuff happens. A lot. If you don't have a contract you don't have a job offer. End. Period. I know you're in Asia, but it doesn't matter.
If you need a job, take the job. Do not try to keep the first company waiting. No matter how wonderful or special you are, if the other company wanted you, they would make it happen. I know you don't want to hear that but it's the truth.

Here's a story: about 5-6 years ago, i was working for a company that managed to run itself into the ground. The CEO went to another company, and wanted to hire me. Assured me it was a done deal, just a matter of paperwork. I had a very attractive, positive offer from another company (which I didn't expect) and my former CEO kept begging me to please wait, it would be a formality, they would get me in immediately. The other company really wanted me so they agreed to wait a few days, but that was all they could wait. Fair enough.

I got the offer from my former CEO's new company. It SUCKED. Even though he wanted me there, they didn't like that he was trying to bring his own people in, so they made the offer as unattractive as possible in the hopes I would reject it. At that point I needed a job, so I had to take it. I left six months later because it was terrible. I was way underpaid and it was so obvious I was not wanted there. I could not get anything done.
posted by micawber at 1:38 PM on May 15, 2009

Headhunter with 18 years' experience talking here. Thermonuclear.jive.turkey has it right in initial response. Your fundamental goal is to make an "informed choice". You don't quite have enough information. Tjt's suggestion gets you considerably closer.

Ignore the comments from the "they'll-screw-you-if-they-can" crowd. You can spend your whole life trying to protect yourself from this eventuality. It's rarer than you think.
posted by John Borrowman at 2:10 PM on May 15, 2009

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