Going back to rejected offer
August 13, 2018 6:08 AM   Subscribe

A few months ago, I was trying to pick between two job offers and ended up picking a company that has turned out to be a bad fit. Can I go back to the job I rejected and ask if they would still be willing to take me? How bad would quitting so quickly look?

I've only been in this new role (job A) for a few weeks and there are two glaring issues: (1) One of my colleagues is an ethnonationalist and enjoys starting political debates at work. Nary a lunch goes by without some sort of antagonistic political discussion. As an immigrant, he makes me feel pretty uncomfortable. (2) There is serious red tape that makes it difficult to get anything done. There is a lot of restructuring and I'm supposed to be getting a new boss in a few weeks.

I knew from the get-go that the other job (job B) would've been a better cultural fit, but I didn't go for it because I felt like job A might have slightly more interesting work. I know now that this assumption was wrong, since the red tape prevents anything from happening.

The salary at both jobs are the same and the commutes are similar.

The complicating factors are:
(1) I've already turned down job B, so how bad would it look to ask to go back?
(2) I've only been at A for a few weeks and now I'm going on (pre-planned) holiday, so quitting so soon would be very awkward and will certainly burn bridges. I also have a somewhat long notice period, so who knows if B will even be interested.

I'm pretty unhappy in this job though, given that I've had to move country to take it and I can't stand this colleague... Even if I don't go to B, I will be prepping to interview elsewhere soon.
posted by movicont to Work & Money (8 answers total)
There is no reason not to try for it. Just make sure you have a good narrative for why this is a bad fit, and why you didn't discover that in your due diligence.

(You really should have a chat with HR about the ethnonationalist, especially if you are planning on leaving anyway)
posted by JPD at 6:22 AM on August 13, 2018 [6 favorites]

For Question 1, here are two Ask A Manager posts that deal with the perception of going back to a job you rejected. They are not completely the same situation, but could help give you some perspective. It would help if you knew that the position was still open - is the job posting still available? If it's not, you may need to be mentally prepared that they have already moved on and hired someone else.

As you have only been here for a few weeks, I wouldn't even put it on your resume if you find another job soon-ish (let's say in the next 3 months). Certainly put and end date on your last job though. And if an interview asks you what you were doing since then, I think you can be diplomatically honest about how you do have a job right now but it is not a good fit for you. I would focus on reason 2. (Not that reason 1 is not a good reason, but it'll be hard to explain it in a way that doesn't sound like it was just about a person you didn't "get along with".).

The reason I say just leave it off is that as a hiring manager, if I saw an resume with someone's current position with basically this month's date as their starting date it would be a noticeable flag for me. Not that I would reject it outright, but when it comes down to selecting people to go through to the next stage, I look for flags to whittle down a pile of resumes in front of me.

Once you've been there about 6 months, I would put it on the resume. Still a bit flaggish but less so. I'd think "hmm looks like this person gave it a shot and doesn't like it there" but at least you'd have a little bit to talk about the work you did there. After just a couple of weeks, how could you possibly have gained any job related experience to talk about except what you wrote here. It's helpful information, but wouldn't help me assess your skills to a role.

For question 2
I wouldn't worry about burning bridges at your current place if it's as terrible as it sounds. You're not gonna ever work there right? You haven't really made a tight connection with anyone in there already have you?

If you've only been there a few weeks, check out your contract. Perhaps you are on a probationary period and you can leave with less notice period during this time. My work does this, basically during the first 3 months you can quit or be let go with like 0 days notice period.

If you had a notice period at your previous job, I would assume Job B would still be okay with this notice period. But I mean, it's a risk sure.
posted by like_neon at 6:46 AM on August 13, 2018

A good boss would clear the red tape for you. Since you are going to go on a holiday, another option is to wait until you have the new boss and reevaluate.
posted by Monday at 7:43 AM on August 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

Noting which country you're taking about might help, as different cultures approach employment a little differently.

From my US perspective, it doesn't hurt to try, but there's a good chance they've already filled the role and unless I really liked the candidate, I'd be leery of taking someone that's doing a U turn due to fear that they'd be looking for their next job more or less immediately.
posted by Candleman at 8:50 AM on August 13, 2018

Nary a lunch goes by without some sort of antagonistic political discussion.

This is not directly related to your actual question, but avoid lunches with this guy if at all possible. Even if everyone else eats together, you probably are not required to do so. If anyone asks about it, you can be vague, but if anyone challenges you or directs you to eat with your team, tell them you feel uncomfortable about the topics discussed.

You should report them, but avoidance is an option if you don't feel you can. Since you are so new and likely not in a powerful position, protect yourself first and then try to protect others.
posted by soelo at 10:09 AM on August 13, 2018

I've only been at A for a few weeks and now I'm going on (pre-planned) holiday, so quitting so soon would be very awkward and will certainly burn bridges.

Not as much as you think. I'd absolutely take a person who quit after a few weeks than who quit after a few months. Most people are not particularly productive the first few months they work at a new place because of ramp-up delay. It's most damaging when a person quits after the ramp-up time rather than at the beginning of the ramp-up time.

If you decide to quit, quitting now is the nicest thing you can do to your current company.
posted by saeculorum at 10:11 AM on August 13, 2018

This is totally normal. The other job might have been filled, but there's no harm in reaching out to say you'd like to initiate a conversation if they haven't found someone.

It also sounds like a place where burning bridges might be just fine. But I agree with others that now is a great time to quit in a "hey, sorry, not a good fit!" fashion.
posted by spindrifter at 11:20 AM on August 13, 2018

It’s worth a try.
posted by w0mbat at 1:05 PM on August 13, 2018

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