How not to burn bridges?
March 18, 2011 7:19 AM   Subscribe

Got an offer on one job that I applied for, but there's another job that's still pending that I want even more. At the same time I don't want to say no because I need work!

Today I got an offer on a contract position (obtained through a recruiter), but I'm still waiting to hear about a permanent position (a direct hire) that I have a good chance with. Naturally I'd prefer the permanent position. If I accept the contract position and get the permanent position offer a few weeks later, is it okay to bow out of the contract? If so, how I can I do so gracefully? Both companies have great people that I'd enjoy working with, but the contract position has no guarantee of renewal, and I don't want to be stuck jobless again if I can help it.

What can I do, if anything?
posted by Anima Mundi to Work & Money (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Best answer: If there is no financial penalty to you, take the contract deal to pay the bills. The contract company might be pissed when you bail, but their client company should understand that a full time gig > short term contract gig.
posted by COD at 7:32 AM on March 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


b1tr0t: "Call up the company that hasn't made an offer yet. Let them know that you have an offer, but you'd much prefer to work for them."

Absolutely. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.

Do not let the recruiter talk/bully you into accepting the offer.
posted by mkultra at 7:41 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Best answer: Call up the company that hasn't made an offer yet. Let them know that you have an offer, but you'd much prefer to work for them.

Do keep in mind that some companies simply aren't going to speed up their hiring process for you - no matter how much they want to hire you. Large companies in particular can have tons of processes involved in making a hiring decision, and they may be unable to make a decision in the next few days.

I agree with COD - I think you're best off accepting the contract and quitting it if necessary. There isn't really a graceful way to quit, you will burn some bridges - but do what's best for you.
posted by ripley_ at 7:52 AM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Definitely call up the one that hasn't made an offer yet, and ask them to give you an answer because you have an offer. But, if there is some legitimate reason why they can't get to a decision on you yet, don't hesitate to take the contract and bail if you need to. The recruiter will surely try to make it seem like this would be unacceptable, but all you'd have to tell them if this happened is that you need a direct hire position -- they know that, anyway.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:53 AM on March 18, 2011


Best answer: Do you have to start immediately? If not, let the contract position's recruiter know you need some time to consider their offer. It's completely normal to even if you're not looking at other positions.

After sending out dozens of resumes without hearing back, I finally got interviews from companies A and B. Company A had multiple interviews. I interviewed with company B between my company A interviews. B made me an offer the next day. A had the more desirable position. I completed my interviews with A while B waited for me to make a decision. They were ok when I let them know a week later I got another offer elsewhere.
posted by vilandra at 7:59 AM on March 18, 2011


Best answer: Yes, definitely call the company that's yet to make the offer. Take their temperature on when they're planning to make a hiring decision, and then take that into account when deciding whether to take the contract gig. If the full-time job becomes available afterwards, by all means, bail, within the bounds of your contract, of course. People leave contract/temp gigs all the time.

In a broader sense, you can think of it this way: your commitment to your employer should be exactly the same as your employer's commitment to you - and if they're only willing to bring you on as a temp/contractor, you should take that as a sign that you shouldn't have much of a commitment to them, either.
posted by deadmessenger at 8:01 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Best answer: Do keep in mind that some companies simply aren't going to speed up their hiring process for you - no matter how much they want to hire you.

This is true - but also keep in mind that some companies have crazy, mixed-up, dysfunctional hiring processes, and if you're their top candidate, telling them you have another offer could light a fire under their asses. I have been there to see the "oh, shit, we might lose So-and-so, we have to move on this" scramble.

Other than that, I would take deadmessenger's advice. And also, read the contract with the recruiter carefully before you sign on if you think you might need/want to bail. (Read contracts carefully in general. I have had all of my employment contracts reviewed by a lawyer - expensive, but worth it in peace of mind.)
posted by mishaps at 8:24 AM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also keep in mind if you bail on the contract job you will probably never ever work with that recruiter and their company again. They will be very upset and it will look bad for them that they brought some one in who bailed.

I would tell the recruiter you are waiting to hear about a perm job and see how long you can make them wait. In the meantime as people mentioned, start bugging the perm people pronto.
posted by patrad at 8:28 AM on March 18, 2011


patrad: "I would tell the recruiter you are waiting to hear about a perm job and see how long you can make them wait. In the meantime as people mentioned, start bugging the perm people pronto."

I would not bring this up with the recruiter, who will not get paid if you take the perm job and thus has no incentive to accommodate you. In fact, having this conversation is much more likely to simply cause the recruiter to turn up the pressure on you to take the contract job, up to and including lying about the window of the contract job closing (I used to work in the industry, and I've seen recruiters take advantage of unsophisticated job seekers in all sorts of unsavory ways).
posted by mkultra at 9:21 AM on March 18, 2011


Response by poster: After asking colleagues in my field, the marked answers are actually deemed okay, since this is the norm. Quite a few people told me that it should be easy to find a new contractor for the position I'd be leaving (assuming I get the perm position.) I still have to undergo a drug test and other red tape, so I won't be starting immediately. I don't like bailing, but I have to think of myself and the family I'm supporting. Thanks all!
posted by Anima Mundi at 12:46 PM on March 18, 2011


Best answer: If it became financially unsound for the contract company to keep you around, they'd toss you out ASAP. There is no logical reason a company would have expectations of contract workers to stay for their full contract. Take it and bail if needed, if they have a lot of contract workers, I'm sure they're used to it.
posted by Pertz at 9:49 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


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