In the March 24, 2020 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter a student accepts a job offer, then gets more interviews and a better offer. What now? Renege on the first offer?
I am in deep turmoil right now. For quite a while I was not getting any calls let alone interviews. About a month ago I got interviews with three companies. Company A made an offer and Company B made an offer later in the week. I didn’t hear anything back from Company C. Out of fear of losing my first real offer, I quickly accepted Company A. Company B’s offer was nothing compared to what A offered. However, it’s a job in the industry I prefer.
About two weeks later, I got calls from Companies D and E. I passed phone screenings at both, and both invited me to fly out for interviews. These were really good jobs for a soon-to-be graduate that include good leadership programs. I asked my professors for advice on how to prepare for these new interviews, and what to do about the offer I accepted from Company A. They right away reproached me for still interviewing after accepting an offer. They talked me out of going forward with Companies D and E, so I cancelled those interviews and told them my situation.
Now I am having second thoughts. I am still in talks with Company B for a possible better salary. It’s a better fit for me. I am even considering reopening talks with Companies D and E. And now I am receiving calls from a new Company F. I am thankful for where I am, but worried that I may have accepted to soon and the job might not fit me.
Congratulations on all the interest you have stirred up, and on your job offers. While I respect the intent of your professors, I don’t agree with them. In fact, this problem of staggered job offers and rescinding acceptance of a job offer is something I’ve covered in detail in Fearless Job Hunting, Book 9: Be The Master of Job Offers.
Should you renege?
The gist is this. To renege on your acceptance of a job is a crappy thing to do and it may have adverse consequences. But it is your choice to accept those consequences if you think another offer is compelling. That is up to you.
Just as companies sometimes rescind job offers (rare, but it happens) and companies sometimes lay people off for purely business reasons (nothing personal), people sometimes renege after accepting a job and take the consequences.
But be careful: It seems your C, D and E opportunities are still not solidified completely. That’s another risk you take if you rescind your first acceptance. Don’t play the odds and be left with no offers at all. Sit down and flow-chart how things may play out, and how your decision might have some adverse impacts on your reputation. There’s a cost to everything. The thing is to make informed judgments and choices.
Choose the best job offer
I know your professors will disagree with me, but I stand by my advice: Make the best choice, consider the downside, and decide whether you’re willing to accept the consequences. (For example, upsetting an employer.) Please keep in mind that there is risk in any of these choices, including the dissatisfaction of working at a job you changed your mind about.
Odds are high that you will search for a new job within a couple of years – not because you didn’t choose carefully, or because you’re not dedicated. It will be because you will develop your first sense of what’s important to you and what motivates you. The simple truth is, at your age you will change very much in the next one or two years – and that’s good.
Choose the best company
Concern yourself with making a choice to work with a company that has these 4 qualities:
- Good people – who will mentor you.
- Good projects and products in the pipeline – that you will work on and learn from.
- Good financial prospects – so you won’t have to leave unless you want to!
- The respect of its customers, vendors, and peer companies.
But mostly, choose the company with the best people. Ask to spend a day shadowing someone in the department where you will be working. You’ll see firsthand what it’s really like to work there.
Learning how to control information
I admire how you are taking this one step at a time and learning as you go. You’ll get better at juggling job offers with time and experience.
It’s really no one’s business who else you’re interviewing with. It would have been better to conduct your search and negotiations without telling each company what you were doing with others. Recruiters might get offended, but they control information to their advantage all the time. They have no problem making an offer to their #1 candidate and stringing you (the #2 candidate) along until they get an answer from #1. They want to keep all options open, so they won’t tell you they’ve already made an offer to someone else.
Make sense? Controlling information (without ever lying) is what we do in business.
The book I referred to above tells a lot more about how to deal with job offers. In any case, I hope something I’ve said here is helpful. I would like to know what you decide and how this works out for you. Best wishes on your first job!
Is this job seeker being unethical? Is it ever okay to renege on a job offer? What other ways could a person handle this? And what about the appalled professors?