This was stressful enough the first time!
October 9, 2012 2:30 PM   Subscribe

I declined an offer from company A to work at company B. My contract was cut short due to rebudgeting/reprioritizing projects, totally out of the left field. I ate humble pie, and asked company A if they are still looking to add to their team. They said they'll get back to me in a week. In the meantime I've been contacted by and interviewed at company C and discovered that I love them to death. They love me. They're going to make an offer in the next few days, and I so badly want to take it. I just don't want to appear a crappy offer declining jerk to company A! Argh!

Nothing is guaranteed, but I'm spending all my time worrying about this and I want to know how to best handle this situation should it actually take place. I hate burning bridges. Social interactions stress me the fuck out already. I'm dying right now.

I'm guessing the answer is are you kidding? but is there a graceful way of dealing with this should company A still want me to join them? The only scenario I imagine taking place is them going, "Yeah, we're never talking to you again and sincerely wish the most terrible things upon you." Which is ultimately okay, I shouldn't take an offer just to be polite, but I don't want to sound like an asshole either!

Help me avoid a conversation like this:
"Thanks but no thanks..."
"Are you serious? Again?"
"Um. Yeah..."

(I don't think any other details are relevant to the situation, but company C would mean a longer commute and a paycut, and I still want them over company A. It would help me grow immensely in my field.)

...(plus when I was talking to HR at company A it was like pulling teeth to find out pretty much anything, and even then it felt like I was doing them a favor. I am dreading talking to them about this.)
posted by Tequila Mockingbird to Work & Money (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Company A has no claim on you because you asked if they were adding people to their team. If they really wanted you that badly, you'd have an offer on the table. Employers are reasonable enough to know that someone who is out of work is going to have multiple things going at once and if they don't act quick enough, they'll lose a good prospect.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 2:32 PM on October 9, 2012 [8 favorites]

You work for yourself, you can negotiate anything.

If company C makes an offer and you accept, Immediately get on the horn with Company A and let them know that, "thanks, but I'm cool." Better yet an email, "Hi, just wanted to check back in, I haven't heard anything one way or the other, and I wanted to let you know that I was able to find another position."

I'd lay low and not call company A for a while, at least a year.

Also, you had a 2% chance of getting a job at company A anyway.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:35 PM on October 9, 2012 [8 favorites]

I have to remind myself of a similar thing right now as I'm in the midst of showing my rental property to prospect after prospect. At least 50% of the people I've shown it to have shown at least some degree of interest. One guy promises he'll call back Friday and I'd estimate him as 90% likely to rent. But you know what? There is no contract or check in my hand, nor has he passed my background check, so every time I show the house I show it like the people I'm in front of are the only ones interested.

Ideally company C gets back to you before company A does. If company A gets to you first with a firm offer, your bird-in-hand scenario is reversed, but you still reasonably have some period of time to accept or not (not long, under the circumstances). But hey, if you're worried about the moral or reputation aspects, I think you're just beating yourself up. As a hiring manager myself, I realize that it's a tough job market and that candidates have to look out for themselves.
posted by randomkeystrike at 2:40 PM on October 9, 2012

You are under no obligation to Company A. Take Company C's offer (as you so obviously are on fire to do) and IF Company A calls you back in a week, you can very nicely tell them that in the week they left you hanging, somebody else swept you off your feet, and you wish them the best trying to fill that position. But not in precisely those words.
posted by katya.lysander at 2:54 PM on October 9, 2012

Many companies put out hundreds (if not thousands) of feelers every year to establish relationships with people who might like to work for them. They also turn hundreds (if not thousands) of people down every year, even though they initiate those very conversations. It's called the application process.

If you think about this in reverse, you realize that it's not much different on your end of things. It's totally appropriate for you to put out feelers to companies to see who might be the best match for you. They should, in theory, compete for you as much as applicants compete for a position. The way it usually goes, though, is that companies have more pull and applicants are more desperate. But that doesn't change the inherent nature of the dynamic. It's a potential exchange of goods and services in which a two-way, mutual conversation is happening with those who want to barter with you: their money for your time and skills.

There's no shame in starting the conversation not knowing whether it will work out. You start the conversation so that both parties can investigate the possibility, and if necessary, compete with other interested parties for available resources in the market.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:55 PM on October 9, 2012

It is a big world out there, and companies have lots of people asking to be hired, all of the time. If they need you, and really want you, they have to jump in and get you right away. Otherwise, it is their loss.

When working the whole job application jungle, you should never feel that you owe a prospective employeer anything. They sure don't feel anything for you. Oh, and congratulations for finding a good fit.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 2:56 PM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

You asked, so they know you're out there looking. If they wanted to own you, they would have pulled strings or chits or whatever to get you on board post haste. Even if they think they might want you, at this point they DO NOT have you and if they don't act in time, they won't think twice about going to the next person on THEIR list.
posted by dhartung at 3:08 PM on October 9, 2012

You have to do what's best for you you you. You owe nobody anything in this scenario, except that you owe it to yourself to do what's best for ... wait for it ... you.
posted by scratch at 4:41 PM on October 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

The only semi awkwardness would arise if Company A got back to you before Company C. If C gets back to you first with an offer, take it or leave it on its own merits and call Company A and tell them that while they were deciding you accepted a job at C and want to withdraw your inquiry. No big deal.

If A gets back to you first with either an offer or an offer to interview again, at that time tell them you are also in talks with Company C (I would use a vague phrase like "another company in the industry"). At that point you have given full disclosure and if they proceed and you accept a different offer, well you did the right thing letting them know.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:07 PM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's business. If Company A takes it personally, that's their issue.
posted by fixer at 5:24 PM on October 9, 2012

It's like selling your car. First one to hand over the money gets the keys.
posted by megatherium at 5:27 PM on October 9, 2012

I strongly second the reassurance that you don't owe Company A anything, and you *really* shouldn't be embarrassed because they requested a week to think about your offer. It's absolutely fine for them to do so, of course, but that was by no means a guarantee that they'd offer you a job! No sane manager would expect you to sit on your hands for 7 days just in case they decide to bring you in. In this economy, you take the opportunities that come your way.

So not only is this kosher, but I just can't imagine you'd burn any bridges by telling them that you're springing for another job. Stop freaking out.
posted by zoomorphic at 6:34 PM on October 9, 2012

Just send them an email saying you are no longer available. It's seriously no biggie, it happens all the time and the best possible thing to do in this situation is to not leave them hanging because you're agonising over offence they will most likely not take. Whenever I have been a candidate or been dealing with candidates, clarity over my or their status is always appreciated. As others have said, if they wanted you badly they would already be offering a job to you already. Don't overthink this, everybody involved is an adult and this is not 'you're my best friend but they are my second best friend' like at school.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:54 AM on October 10, 2012

They had an opportunity to bring you on board - waiting a week was a wrong decision for them. You are clearly in demand, probably because you're good at what you do and/or are a great co-worker. Next time you're on the market, they'll know to move faster.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:52 AM on October 10, 2012

You are thinking that you don't want to hurt Company A's feelings...get over it. There is no loyalty in business-at any level.
posted by Gungho at 6:09 AM on October 10, 2012

You snooze, you lose. Company A should understand the risks of delaying, you won't hurt their feelings if you're unavailable by the time they contact you.
posted by tommasz at 6:20 AM on October 10, 2012

I had a pretty similar experience where I had to decline twice the opportunity to work for a company. The first time it was perfectly cordial and understandable and the second time it was also cordial but I got the distinct feeling that the door was really closed now. Ultimately they understood that it is a marketplace and they won't secure every lead they get. While it may be the first time it is happening for you it is likely rather common for them, so don't worry about it bruising their feelings.

Congratulations on having some options in this economy.
posted by dgran at 6:20 AM on October 10, 2012

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