Is it wrong to quit a new job if another offer comes through?
February 2, 2006 8:15 AM   Subscribe

Is it wrong to quit a new job if another offer comes through?

So I've been interviewing with Company A and Company B for the past month or so. I last met with Company A on this past Wednesday. They are still making a decision.

Company B offered me a position that met my salary requirements and the position seemed perfect for me. I accepted their offer and started work this week. Since starting there, I am still very happy with my position and compensation, but I have discovered a few things that lead me to doubt the company's ethical standards and their future. This worries me, and yes, I know I should have done better research before, but the fact is I am now concerned about job security.

I started so quickly because they were hiring a pool of employees and training was to start this week, meaning I would be playing catch-up or would have to start much later (which I really couldn't afford to do.)

Company A is a much more well-known company and the position is probably on an equal level as the other one, as far as how well I like the job, but there is also a much greater opportunity for growth and promotion there. And, unlike Company B, I am fairly sure they will be around for a long time.

Should Company A contact me and offer me the position, what would be the consequences of quitting Company B to take the job at Company A?

I've read that it's really not good to accept an offer and then not follow through with it because of the time and money they put into you. Well, technically Company B wouldn't really be out anything because they wouldn't only be training me, but also the other new employees. Also, when I was offered the position, I was told that they were only planning on hiring X amount of employees, and had already hired X people, but that they liked me and would offer me the job anyway. So I'm not actually taking anyone else's spot. Also, I am on a 90-day probationary period with Company B--does that make a difference?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You're an employee, not an indentured servant. People start and determine it's not for them. It happens. You shouldn't get into any details with them, particularly not your misgivings about their ethicality. Simply tell them you appreciate the opportunity but you've come to the conclusion that you and the company are not right for each other, thanks much. If you want or they press you can say there's also some personal issues going on in your life right now that make you feel like you couldn't make a commitment to them that you'd find satisfactory.

Make no mistake, however, you're burning your bridge with that company. Its not an event so eggregious that they're going to hunt you down or necessarily be a very poor reflection on you if you ever cross paths with someone from their again (since you're not the only employee who will leave there) but that door will be closed to you if company A doesn't work out. Something that you maybe want to think about considering you say you couldn't afforrd to start later.
posted by phearlez at 8:24 AM on February 2, 2006

It's your life. The company pays you, they do not own you. Do what's best for you.
posted by occhiblu at 8:24 AM on February 2, 2006

Don't sweat it, stuff like this happens all the time. Although your new employer would never say they see it this way, the "90-day probationary period" works both ways.
posted by mkultra at 8:28 AM on February 2, 2006

If A is better, switch. Honestly, it's better to lose a week-old employee then it is to lose one that's been there for a couple of years.

You'll be doing them a favor.
posted by delmoi at 8:34 AM on February 2, 2006

I agree with phearlez.

Companies are not like families or friends. You only hang out at the office 40 hours a week because they pay you to... it's a job, not a committed relationship.

Let them know you've been given another offer, and give them the chance to beat it. If they can't, then bid them adieu.

Everyone involved will understand.
posted by rentalkarma at 8:35 AM on February 2, 2006

Run headlong into the arms of Company A and never look back.
posted by xmutex at 8:51 AM on February 2, 2006

It happened where I work - someone quit after a month because they got a different job closer to their house. It's better to quit after one month rather than six.
posted by GuyZero at 8:56 AM on February 2, 2006

A strict adherence to decent ethics requires you NOT to quit from the company that just hired you.

But in modern business environments, adhering to ethics like that will quite probably just screw you over -- the company you work for wouldn't bat an eyelash if they had to downsize you right out the door.

I've missed opportunities because I was unwilling to be dishonest (e.g., I don't want this job forever, just a few months or a year). Most people in US business would rather just lie.

Training is expensive, though, and so's the hiring process, so taking a job and leaving in a few weeks/monts is wasting the company's money.

There is no correct answer. Do what you're comfortable with, and make sure you look out for your own ass, because nobody else will.
posted by teece at 8:57 AM on February 2, 2006

Just chiming in with everyone. If the situation were reversed and the company decided it was not in its best interest to keep you there, it would have no qualms in letting you go.

I'd try to give two-weeks anyway, even though you're in a 3 month probationary period, just because it'd be nice of you. Your employer will probably just tell you not to bother if you're in training.
posted by ODiV at 9:05 AM on February 2, 2006

what phearlex said
posted by matteo at 9:53 AM on February 2, 2006

Some advice: make sure the offer from "A" is solid before quitting "B". Make sure you have a start date, an offer letter; SOMETHING CONCRETE. Otherwise, you could have nothing.
posted by weirdoactor at 10:27 AM on February 2, 2006

What phearlex said, and also ODIV. I can't believe how many people suffer moral qualms about their dealings with companies that would stab them in the back and toss them down the garbage chute if they could save a nickel by doing so. Your boss is not your friend!
posted by languagehat at 10:49 AM on February 2, 2006

Write in to New York Time's The Ethicist with this question. I'm sure he'd have an interesting take, and it's exactly the kind of question they frequently print (come to think of it, he might've answered this once...). Oh, yeah, and totally don't feel bad about quitting.
posted by incessant at 11:00 AM on February 2, 2006

You'll never at Company B again, but if the offer from A and the prospects there are as good as you say, it shouldn't matter. Just get it in writing.
posted by nyterrant at 11:59 AM on February 2, 2006

Also agreeing with phearlez.

I've been in this situation, and made the call to take the second job. It was a judgment that I didn't feel great about but instinctively I knew was right. I'm really glad I did, because I'm still with the second job years later.
posted by lucyleaf at 12:26 PM on February 2, 2006

Get the offer from Company A in writing, and then ditch Company B. Just tell them you decided it wasn't going to work out -- do NOT tell them about Company A.
posted by aramaic at 3:13 PM on February 2, 2006

I thought it was standard these days that the first few weeks at a company were always 'probational' unless its something like an NFL draft, or the Presidency, etc.

And I never thought it was looked down upon if somebody left after a week or so, unless there was significant time that the company had put into the hiring process.
posted by dvjtj at 9:29 PM on February 2, 2006

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