Update with the job offer, unsure/feeling pressured.
September 11, 2020 9:58 AM   Subscribe

Two days ago, I got a job offer, which I had to mull over. I asked about it yesterday. Today, I ran into new information relating to the job position, and I'm feeling somewhat uncomfortable. I'm not sure if I'm reading the vibe wrong.

Yesterday, I asked about how to negotiate my job offer. I told the person offering me the position I needed a bit of time to think it over.

Today, a personal friend of mine contacted me. It turns out he knew about the interview, he knew about the offer, he was actually the one who was funding the position/contract altogether, and he was wondering why I was pausing on accepting the offer. After explaining I needed a bit of time to think about it, given my current job and how far away it was, etc., he kept saying how I'd love the job, how it's stress-free, how I'd love the people I was working with. However, he said as he was funding the position, basically, I'd be his "bitch" (he said this in a joking matter), and suggested I clarify with when the deadline was to decide on the offer. He also seemed a bit disappointed that I didn't go to him for advice on how to interview well/tips. He was the one who shared the job position link on his FB, but I really had no idea how involved he was. He was not part of the interview committee in any way whatsoever.

I now feel in an awkward position, and felt a bit uncomfortable by the call. I had no idea of his level of involvement in the position. I know this friend as a nice person, who can come across as pushy at times, and sometimes he gives signals that make me a bit uncomfortable. It's not intentional, I'm sure, but as a gentle and sensitive person, I feel those signals. He can be very blunt at times, too.

The vibe I got from his call was that I kind of had to take the position (seeming insistent, asking that I contact him if I had any concerns, etc., even though I wouldn't be reporting directly to him...) I had more than 3 interviews. I feel terrible, but at the same time, I'm leaning more towards noping out.

My questions:

a) I know you don't know the people involved, but am I possibly overreacting, or is my anxiety the one driving this?
b) I went through the 3+ interviews, and showed high interest to the position. If I decide to bow out, how would you suggest I do this in a way that doesn't offend anyone? I'd feel terrible if I was literally the only candidate, and bowed out after all this time and all the interviews.
c) If I bow out, how should I explain this to my friend, if he gets mad or upset with me?

I don't know, I feel like I'm in a sticky situation here. I'm afraid I'm giving up a really good opportunity here, but I don't know—I mean, I have a job already, and I don't want to leave that for a toxic environment (if that's the case). At the same time, what if I am losing out on this opportunity?

Thanks for your insights.
posted by thoughtful_analyst to Work & Money (27 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
NOOOOOPE. Never ever take a job where someone says "you'll be my bitch", even joking, unless you already have the kind of profoundly trusting relationship where you know exactly what that means and you are 100% certain your boundaries will be respected.

Which they're not. By this person. Right now.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:00 AM on September 11, 2020 [51 favorites]

You never HAVE to do anything. You still have all the power here and it is your choice to make.

The personal side of this is weird. I think your friend was over the line trying to pressure you. If they offered you, they obviously want you. But they should be professional about it. If you think your personal relationship is going to make this position something you would not actually enjoy, then saying no is completely reasonable.

This is a business transaction. You look at your offer and the cost to your life that doing the job is going to take and decide whether it is best for you. Asking for time is reasonable. The pressure from the other person is the unreasonable part.

If someone is your friend, they will understand your decision no matter what it is. You can just say it wasn't the right time or the money wasn't good enough. They should go "Oh, gotcha" and move on.
posted by cmm at 10:06 AM on September 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

It turns out he knew about the interview, he knew about the offer, he was actually the one who was funding the position/contract altogether, and he was wondering why I was pausing on accepting the offer... He was not part of the interview committee in any way whatsoever.

How sure are you that his version is accurate?
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:06 AM on September 11, 2020 [6 favorites]

I would accept it either, so I think you can trust your gut. If you were the only candidate that speaks to something going wrong on their end - not your responsibility. With your friend I would just say the timing to move positions wasn’t right - it is vague and non-blimey and if leased further say right now accepting the position isn’t possible. Repeat of necessary. From your description they aren’t listening to you anyway - they won’t hear anything other than “yes”.
posted by saucysault at 10:07 AM on September 11, 2020

I bet he gets a referral fee if you accept the position.
posted by nkknkk at 10:10 AM on September 11, 2020 [30 favorites]

Response by poster: How sure are you that his version is accurate?

I'm not completely sure. What basically happened was this friend (let's call him X) posted on his FB a link to the position, encouraging people to apply. I applied. I did not mention this to him.

Got an email from the company (friend does not work FOR this company), asking for an interview, by person A. Interviewed 3+ times; they contacted my references. Person A gave me the job offer. I asked questions to A, we corresponded back and forth. Nowhere in this was X involved at all.

Then, today, X contacted me, said what he said, etc.

That's how it transpired. It would have been me employed with "y" company, as a contract with "z" government. But X funds the position itself. That's my understanding, though.
posted by thoughtful_analyst at 10:14 AM on September 11, 2020

No way

Combining the two Q's, they offer you a job as hourly when you expected to be salary, then they lowballed that, then some asshole calls to put the squeeze on when you don't accept immediately? Fuck this circus.

I'd say "I am personally acquainted with X, and they called me to encourage me to accept the position, which would have been fine, except they also let me know that I'd be answering to them if I were to take this job. This is not my understanding of the position and was not communicated to me at any time in the three interviews I had with you. In light of this, and combined with the below market salary, I must decline this offer. Lastly, I am nobody's bitch, even jokingly."

You can leave out that last part. But I would absolutely chuck this clown under a bus. You don't have to. But I would.

Good luck. This stuff is hard. It's ok to turn down jobs.
posted by everythings_interrelated at 10:29 AM on September 11, 2020 [41 favorites]

I think you should trust your spidey sense on this one. He's trying to push you around before you're even in position, he's kidding (hmm) about you being his bitch (WTF?!) as if he thinks that's a great proposition that will encourage you to apply for the job, he's overstepping boundaries by contacting you about the job, and you already know him to be a pushy person. It seems unlikely any of this will change for the better once you're dependent on his good grace for your salary.

I went through the 3+ interviews, and showed high interest to the position. If I decide to bow out, how would you suggest I do this in a way that doesn't offend anyone? I'd feel terrible if I was literally the only candidate, and bowed out after all this time and all the interviews.

This narrative is entirely about your anxiety, not about reality. You're not in a relationship with these guys. You're not spitting out the cookies they stayed up all night to bake you because you're besties. You turning the job down doesn't offend them in any way - they're running a business, and the whole point of a recruitment process is for both sides to decide whether or not the proposition works for them. The words 'or not' are important in that sentence. You declining the job has always been one of the potential outcomes of this process: If you were obliged to take the job, there wouldn't have been any point doing the interviews, you would have just walked in and signed on the dotted line. You decline professionally, by thanking them for their time and telling them that you've decided the position isn't right for you, you wish them the best of luck filling it.

Also: If you were the only candidate (massively unlikely), they're terrible at recruiting and that's on them.

If I bow out, how should I explain this to my friend, if he gets mad or upset with me?

If he gets mad or upset with you, you've absolutely affirmed that you made the right decision by not taking the job. You don't owe him any explanation, though if he's pushy as you say, he'll act as if you do. If you turn down the job, that means you're not his bitch, right? So you don't owe him any explanation other than "It just wasn't right for me, so I've decided not to take it." Repeat ad infinitum and ignore his messages if he persists on demanding explanations.

It is not your job to manage these people's feelings. Please let yourself off the hook on that.
posted by penguin pie at 10:30 AM on September 11, 2020 [18 favorites]

Response by poster: Sorry for the threadsit, but I'm afraid that when I email them with the declined offer, then my friend will contact me, all mad. I'm in a vulnerable position right now — it's been a hard year, and I don't have a lot of emotional energy to deal with this potential conflict. I'm very conflict-adverse, and the community I'm in is very small, and I don't want any bad feelings on his end. My friend made it sound like he really wanted me (to accept) there. Also, if he's funding the position, and nobody takes it, I'm afraid he will blame me or make it sound like I'm the bad guy for not accepting the offer.

I know it's not my job to manage his feelings, but I'm afraid this will be turned back on me somehow, and I'll be made to sound like an ungrateful wench for not taking the position, like I'm missing out, or even anger. I don't know if I can handle that, and I'm not good at maintaining boundaries or standing up for myself, either. That's something I'm working on with my therapist, but it's very hard, as I have deep-rooted fears of abandonment and trauma from being bullied over the years.

Had I known his level of involvement in the first place, I would not have applied, unfortunately.
posted by thoughtful_analyst at 10:43 AM on September 11, 2020

If you take the job, and his level of involvement is what he's claiming, then you're signing up to walk on eggshells around him for the entirely of your tenure there. Sometimes you can't avoid conflict.

If he's nasty to you, then he's not being a friend to you. Block him. And call your therapist.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:46 AM on September 11, 2020 [22 favorites]

I have to wonder if X is getting some kind of finder's fee for the placement. Why else would X put it out publicly? Or does X need the headcount so desperately that the pressure is coming from that? (Which would be another red flag).
posted by JoeZydeco at 10:59 AM on September 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

My Dad said a wise thing once: "you pay for a phone for your own convenience, not theirs. You're not obligated to answer any calls you don't want" If he calls, you don't have to talk to him. You can be polite by sending an email later in the day with a "sorry I missed your call, I've been very busy lately. I regret I wasn't able to take that job we were talking about, it just wouldn't have worked for me. I'm sure you'll find someone great for the position" There is nothing else that needs to be discussed if you decide not to take the job. If he wants to vent about things not going they way he wanted, that's not your job either. He can hire his own therapist for that!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:01 AM on September 11, 2020 [28 favorites]

Your friend probably will contact you, all mad. That is a really good reason not to the take the position. If you do, it won't just be your friend but the person funding your position who has some unknown degree of control over your success and future employment. Don't let your hesitation now set you up for continual pain of the same kind.

It is not your role in life to solve his employment problem. Maybe if you don't take it, he will get an different person who will be really excited and eager to have the job it will be better. Maybe the job doesn't pay enough for anyone to want it and it will sit around empty. Those are his problems (or the agencies problems more accurately, he can choose to make them his problems if he wants)

Here's the bonus. This is a chance to practice skills that you aren't very good at. Talk to your therapist, talk to a friend who understands and supports you, post here - get your support team lined up. This may turn out to be fine and you are overthinking it. If now, then this is your chance to practice setting boundaries and tolerating the discomfort without giving in.

The essence of good boundaries is that is about what you do, not what they do. Resolve that no matter what this person says, you know that you made the right decision, that you morally correct in choosing not to take a job that doesn't suit you and if he is upset, that is his problem not yours. (Hard to believe, right! You don't have to believe it, just act as if you do.)

In reality what this looks like is to have a simple message, like penguin's " "It just wasn't right for me, so I've decided not to take it." That is all you need to say. If he pushes, just say "Sorry you are upset but It just wasn't right for me, so I've decided not to take it." After that, time to protect yourself and either change topics if you can or just hang up, close the window, whatever it takes to walk away from it. That may feel rude but you aren't required to stay there while he yells at you. (Not your parent or your employer - you really aren't required, even by good manners - to let him take it out on you) If you need more support, come back and post again - Metafilter is full people who are going to your side here.
posted by metahawk at 11:02 AM on September 11, 2020 [12 favorites]

You cannot take this job, which pays below market, comes with an hour commute - for which you must buy a new car (!) - all because your "friend" might get mad at you.

The whole episode of them being mad will take, what, a week? You are going to flip your life over to avoid a shitty week... a couple bad conversations? They will be mad about something else with somebody else all over again next week. It will pass. It will pass.

Imagine if you take this job. How many cycles of their getting mad at you will you face? It's this feeling over and over and over again.

You are risking "locking in" the anxiety you feel now, because you are having trouble saying no.

It's hard to say no, but once you say it, it feels sooooooo good. This is an opportunity to get back some energy, to get back some strength.
posted by everythings_interrelated at 11:02 AM on September 11, 2020 [31 favorites]

In your earlier Ask you didn't go into detail on your perceptions of the corporate culture, and the only thing we have to go on is that interaction with your friend. Did it confirm or contradict any impressions you had from the interview process?

But in broadest terms: it's not good to start a job feeling beholden to an unofficial chain of command, and I doubt anything will shake that off. "It's not right for me."
posted by holgate at 11:39 AM on September 11, 2020

I want to see you send an email to the interviewers that says "Hi. After the interview, I received a phone call from [person] who informed me that if I were to accept this position, I would be his--to quote his exact words--"bitch." Does that sound like an accurate representation of the position to you? Thanks very much for your time."
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:49 AM on September 11, 2020 [22 favorites]

1. F*ck this friend
2. He doesn't sound like a good person
3. If what he's saying is true what he did in calling you was incredibly inappropriate, manipulative, controlling, condescending, and egotistical
4. If what he's saying isn't true, what he did was all of the above AND a lie
5. If you want this job, clarify with the hiring committee via email,

"Hi, thank you again for the offer! I'm excited about the position and weighing my options - as discussed, will respond to the offer by X date / time.

In the meantime, I wanted to ask about a call I received from X. He stated that he is funding this position, and therefore I would be under his purview. In fact, in a joking tone he said that "[I] will be [his] bitch." Could you clarify if this is true?"

State this in the absolute most dry, neutral, factual terms and see what they say.

6. Again, the above strategy is ONLY if you want this job
7. Otherwise, email the company,

"Hi, thank you again for the offer. I've weighed my options and decided this position is not right for me at this time. Thank you so much for the time and consideration."

That's it. You don't need to explain anything. You are allowed to fight hard to do well in interviewing, express high interest, AND turn down an offer.

8. And to your friend you text something like,

"Hey, wanted to let you know that I turned down that position. It wasn't the right match for me at this time" No clarifications, no explaining. AND THEN DISTANCE YOURSELF from this person.

9. I'm a people pleaser rife with social anxiety and I'm picking up a similar vibe in your question. If you feel this might be at all the case for yourself, allow me to empower you by shouting through the internet...

10. "You deserve the right job for you! You deserve to trust your instincts! You deserve not to be anyone's bitch! You deserve not to care how that impacts other people!"
posted by Uncle Glendinning at 11:55 AM on September 11, 2020 [16 favorites]

Response by poster: Update:

Declined the offer. If X texts me, I will respond when I am ready and keep it simple the whole time by simply saying it wasn't the right time, but thank you for thinking of me, and repeat as needed.

This was very, very hard for me to do, and I dread the potential text from X if it happens, but deep inside, I know I'm doing the right thing. Other opportunities will come. I already had my hesitations prior to today, anyway.

If anything else happens, I'll post an update.
posted by thoughtful_analyst at 12:04 PM on September 11, 2020 [80 favorites]

If it's true for you, I've gotten a lot of mileage out of keeping bright clear boundaries between my personal and professional life and telling people that I do that. "I prefer to keep my personal and professional lives separate, so I bowed out. I like having you as a friend." It shows that you're doing it specifically because you value your relationship with them (no matter how true that is), and in my experience is a gentler and less confrontational no.
posted by tchemgrrl at 12:18 PM on September 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

I try to be a people pleaser, and I dwell on things. I think I can tell what you're feeling now (???). But heck, I've had friends/relatives get ticked off because a religious or political opinion I shared didn't match theirs. I remember a few times where it completely ruined my day/week. One "friend" never spoke to me again. But in hind sight I would do it again. They weren't respecting my right to have a different opinion, which is basically your situation and your prerogative.
posted by forthright at 12:50 PM on September 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

Proud of you for trusting your gut!!!
posted by sucre at 12:53 PM on September 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

You did the right thing, that's so impressive! If you hear from him, and it's anything less pleasant than: "Really sad you're not going for the job - best of luck", then sit back and pause for a moment and I think you'll hear in the distance, the sound of the 18 people who posted in this thread all cheering you on together from afar. (And also shouting "Get to fuck" to the 'bitch' guy).
posted by penguin pie at 1:28 PM on September 11, 2020

Congrats on refusing. Definitely the right thing to do, because everything was wrong about this.

If he calls/texts and you feel you must reply (you don't have to, as most everyone else has explained) just say that they lowballed you on the offer. Nothing else; don't say how much they offered or anything, because that's confidential between you and the company. It now becomes a problem between him and the company.

Go you! This can be really hard, especially dealing with over-assertive people who expect you to act the doormat. They can only tread on the cat until it turns on them ...
posted by scruss at 1:29 PM on September 11, 2020

Your friend, who presumably knows that you've had a tough year and are conflict averse, is the one who should feel bad for completely overstepping boundaries... but probably lacks the personal insight and maturity to do so.

I think your approach to this is good, and I know that it doesn't feel good right now but I really hope that it can be an opportunity of personal growth and accomplishment for you. You don't owe this person anything, friend or not.

You are being a good friend to yourself first and that's a lot more important than this person's ego.
posted by sm1tten at 4:05 PM on September 11, 2020 [4 favorites]

go you! and yea, update us if he gives you any flack, we're here for you
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:54 PM on September 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

There's the conflict averse answer of "yeah, sorry man, it just didn't work out." And then there's "I just didn't want to be your bitch" with or without a laughing emoji. (I like it with the emoji because it makes it ambiguous and confusing for him.)
posted by slidell at 10:31 PM on September 11, 2020 [3 favorites]

Excellent! In the past, I've had great success with, "Circumstances have changed, so I'm withdrawing (or going to need to decline," but it sounds like a very graceful exit.

I cannot imagine working for this person for ten minutes. That's just creepy. Great job.
posted by dancing_angel at 11:50 PM on September 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

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