Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offer?

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JobConfused
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Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offer?

Post by JobConfused » Wed Nov 19, 2014 1:33 pm

I'm currently on the job market for an entry-level position. I would like to seek the opinions on this board if I can renege on a job offer without burning bridges, and more generally advice on my current situation from a Bogleheads (financial) perspective. It should also be noted that my professional community is rather small, so I'm not an engineer out of a pool of countless engineers. I work in the STEM field, and my specialty is rather specific so I would prefer not to give details publicly.

Here's my situation:

Job A
Is currently my top choice, based on what I understand about them.
Location: NYC, I plan to live in NJ and commute, so that means I will sacrifice 2hrs of my life every day.
Salary: I don't have any reliable data as they only started offering contract jobs (which is what I am applying for). Based on my estimation it should be $120-150k/yr (yes I know this is a wide range). Previously, they did full-time "permanent hires" that pays >$170k/yr, typically at least $200k/yr, but that was some time ago.
Company: Is a start up, have doubts if they will be around in 10 years. However, they do very interesting work that I like.
Job Type: This is a contract job, 3 years. I am still trying to find out what happen to their contract employees after that, but data points are sparse since it's a new thing, and it's a start up...
Professional Development: This is where it starts to get bad. Almost every glassdoor review indicates that the company spends very little effort in professional development. There is also relatively high turnover, but in defense of company A, the high turnover can be due to personality conflicts (almost every negative post on glassdoor is about toxic management), but yet there are at least half a dozen employees who have stayed on for almost 10 years. Many senior colleagues have also bad-mouthed this start up, although sometimes I think it is due to "professional jealousy" (the startup is investing and developing some disruptive technologies that will shake up the field). Finally, since this is a contract job, I could be left out to dry after my contract is up, and it's possible this job might be a dead-end.

Job B
Is currently my "backup" choice.
Location: TN, low cost of living
Salary: I have reliable data on this. It's around $60k for new hires, but for outstanding hires they start off at $90k. I have a few contacts within the organization, who hinted that I am competitive for the outstanding hires, but there is no guarantee. Full time "permanent hires" pay is $100-150k depending on experience.
Company: Is an established company, will definitely be around. It's federally affiliated and funded and employees are hard-to-fire. It's not a federal job though... but close.
Job Type: Also a contract job for 3 years, but there is a chance to get retained as full-time permanent hire, especially if one is hired in at the higher salary scale as an outstanding hire.
Professional Development: Definitely more invested in their employees with professional development as a focus. I feel that this path will definitely not be a dead end.

My Thoughts:
The bottomline is that although I love Company A, there are 2 problems. (1) It's a startup and I am unsure if they will be around for the long term. (2) They don't seem to invest much in the professional development of their hires. IF, and I stress if, I get promoted to a full-time hire and the startup survives, then it will be my dream job in terms of the type of work, and the best option financially because the starting salary is reasonably high and the rate of salary growth is fast. In my field hitting $250k/yr is pretty much the glass ceiling, unless one moves to executive level management positions. BUT, if I am left out to dry at the end of my contract or if the company folds, then I'm screwed. On the flip side, I counter this argument my saying that I am in NYC, and so that will increase my opportunities to network with people in my field and outside my field (I'm also considering a lateral move outside my current profession). Company B is so-so, and I'm not terribly excited. The salary is lower, but the cost of living makes up for that, and COL calculators shows that $90k in TN = $130k in NJ. My own personal budgeting also comes to the same conclusion. If I get promoted to a full-time hire that's great, but the skills I will acquire there are more transferable than the skills I will acquire in Company A, and so even with a smaller network, I am confident of moving on to the next stage of my career.

Timeline:
Company A is interested in me, and I am interested in them. Most likely if an offer comes, it will be by Jan 2015, maybe even earlier. Company B is a bit slow, and they will only start phone screens in Dec/Jan 2015, and offers in Feb 2015 earliest. I do not think I can stall Company A for one month. So what do I do if Company A offers me a job? What are the consequences on reneging on a job offer? Honestly, I don't think I will, but I'm exploring some hypothetical here.

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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by LadyGeek » Wed Nov 19, 2014 5:28 pm

FYI - This is an experienced member's 2nd account which was created to protect personal information. The new username was approved in advance by the moderators. See: Forum Policy ("Usernames (accounts)")
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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by kithwang » Wed Nov 19, 2014 5:32 pm

You tell both companies that you are towards the final stage of the interview. They need to give you what your salary is and benefit information. Your salary range is too widefor both companies. Don't turn down a company until you have an actual letter with the salary and benefits stated.

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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by JobConfused » Wed Nov 19, 2014 5:58 pm

kithwang wrote:You tell both companies that you are towards the final stage of the interview. They need to give you what your salary is and benefit information. Your salary range is too widefor both companies. Don't turn down a company until you have an actual letter with the salary and benefits stated.
I would do that, but it's probably not going to happen.

Company A is a small startup and moves at a pace that is lightning fast. Company B works like a mega corp or big govt organization, and there are layers of bureaucracy to negotiate. The timing also make things worse. In a month time, I will have completed the final round of interviews with Company A. In a month time, Company B will have just started their first round of phone screens. If I am successful in getting both jobs there will be at least one month between the job offers, possibly more. Stalling Company A that long, especially since they move at the speed of light, is going to be seen as being disinterested.

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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by drawpoker » Wed Nov 19, 2014 6:21 pm

Seems from your description Job A carries way more negatives than Job B. With Job A you may get a higher salary but you may also get a higher stress level.
Be grateful you were able to find out early some of the problems at Job A. Altho the glassdoor reviews can't always be relied upon to be completely objective, look at the turnover rate you were able to document. That would arouse suspicion. This could be a toxic workplace with sick-tick-et people in key management positions that would make your life a living hell.

Wish years ago I had advance knowledge of working conditions at a couple jobs I took. One had a boss who was bipolar but not on medication for it. Was interviewed and hired during the manic phase of the disease, reporting for first day of work now transitioned to the depressive phase. Unbelievable. I lasted 3 months, couldn't take anymore)

The other one that sticks in memory was working for a dept head who was a raging alcoholic. Stuck that one out for almost 2 years. Shoulda got a medal or something for it. :oops:

Be glad some of your colleagues were willing to share what they knew with you.

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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by madbrain » Wed Nov 19, 2014 6:23 pm

kithwang wrote:You tell both companies that you are towards the final stage of the interview. They need to give you what your salary is and benefit information. Your salary range is too widefor both companies. Don't turn down a company until you have an actual letter with the salary and benefits stated.
I agree. Since there is no offer in writing yet, there is nothing to accept or turn down, much less "renege" on .
It is normal to interview at multiple companies. I think if company B takes many months to give you an offer, they will understand if you take another one before then. They are probably used to this.

It seems a bit strange that you only expect $120k - $150k at company A for a contract job, when you say they used to pay $170k for permanent positions.
Contractors don't get benefits and thus need to be paid extra to cover things like health insurance, retirement, etc. Thus the contractor compensation should be higher than permanent.
Has the compensation in your industry declined in general, or do you think it is just at this company because it is a startup and not in as good of a shape as it should be ?
If the situation is specific to company A, that would give me pause. I would keep looking and maybe interview at company C .

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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by JDCarpenter » Wed Nov 19, 2014 6:28 pm

As an aside, and speaking as a happy resident of Nashville....

Make sure that the fit of Company B's location is good for you. Tullahoma is distinct from Oak Ridge/Knoxville (just guessing as to possible locations per your description), but no one would mistake any of them (or Nashville!) for the NYC Metro area. From your narrative, it seems like you are attracted to Company A the most, even with the negatives (2 hour commute & Toxic mgmt). If that is due in part to desire to stay in the NorthEast, make sure that you would be happy after-hours at Company B.
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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by Calm Man » Wed Nov 19, 2014 6:31 pm

OP, I would like you to make sure that B really does have professional development. A contract job means that you are not an employee and development has to be limited because otherwise you are an employee. And although many people do not care, this company is funded a lot by the government and they often care about employment classifications.

Is there possibly a job C? That would be one where you are an employee !!!

Good luck.

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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by JobConfused » Wed Nov 19, 2014 6:36 pm

drawpoker wrote:Be grateful you were able to find out early some of the problems at Job A. Altho the glassdoor reviews can't always be relied upon to be completely objective, look at the turnover rate you were able to document. That would arouse suspicion. This could be a toxic workplace with sick-tick-et people in key management positions that would make your life a living hell.
The truth is that I am still unsure about how "toxic" Company A is. Yes, I do agree I am slightly biased because I like their work, so maybe I am defending them unnecessarily.

From what I can tell by researching linked in profiles, and thankfully the startup is not that large, there does appear to be some turnover, but it's not insane like 50% turnover per year. However, there are a core group of people who were involved since the early years of the company, and most of them (maybe at least 2/3) have not moved on. This "research" however is limited by linked in information, so obviously there could be a bunch of people who left that I don't know about.

I've spoke to 3 ex-employees of Company A. Two of them I have spoken to have said positive things about the work environment. One of them sort of "declined to comment", he stayed on for almost 7 years before leaving, and rumors flying around is that he was not happy there.

In short, it's literally a 50/50 split from what I can tell, and it seems that people are very polarized about Company A. It's either a trash heap or a great place to work... sigh...

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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by JobConfused » Wed Nov 19, 2014 6:39 pm

madbrain wrote:It seems a bit strange that you only expect $120k - $150k at company A for a contract job, when you say they used to pay $170k for permanent positions.
Contractors don't get benefits and thus need to be paid extra to cover things like health insurance, retirement, etc. Thus the contractor compensation should be higher than permanent.
Has the compensation in your industry declined in general, or do you think it is just at this company because it is a startup and not in as good of a shape as it should be ?
If the situation is specific to company A, that would give me pause. I would keep looking and maybe interview at company C .
The field that I work in is an employers market and has been like that for a while. It is becoming the norm to be hired as short-term contractors before being upgraded to a "permanent" hire status. Try before you buy is apparently in fashion these days. So that practice is not specific to Company A.
Last edited by JobConfused on Wed Nov 19, 2014 6:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by Watty » Wed Nov 19, 2014 6:41 pm

It is really too early to make any sort of decision. Until you actually have interviewed and have a job offer you are still in the learning mode.
'm currently on the job market for an entry-level position.
As long as they are competitive most of the other aspects really don't matter a lot and the important thing is that you get a good start in your career.
Job A....

commute, so that means I will sacrifice 2hrs of my life every day.
If that is the typical commute then there will be a lot of days when it is a lot longer than that.

It was not clear if you would be paid hourly since you would be on a contract but either way with a start-up you are likely looking at long days and a long commute. 12+ hour, days, including your commute, gets old pretty quick especially for "toxic management" and that would interfere with your marriage or having any other sort of relationship.

I would assume that your are fairly young and may not have ever lived anywhere else other than New Jersey or NYC. If that is true then getting some exposure to a different part of the country would be a good experience and you might find out that you like being in a different area or that you really love living around NYC and to you it is worth putting up with the downsides of living there.

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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by JobConfused » Wed Nov 19, 2014 6:45 pm

Calm Man wrote:OP, I would like you to make sure that B really does have professional development. A contract job means that you are not an employee and development has to be limited because otherwise you are an employee. And although many people do not care, this company is funded a lot by the government and they often care about employment classifications.
Good call, I cannot be certain about that. What I can be sure about is that in Company B, I will have more latitude to pick up new skills that may be marketable outside my field. For Company A, I'm basically doing the same stuff as my current job, so my growth will be further specialization in an already narrow and specific job market.
Calm Man wrote:Is there possibly a job C? That would be one where you are an employee !!!
Interesting that you mentioned about Job C. There is Job C, and I am confident I will reach the final stage of the interview, but not certain if I will get the job. It is a full-time hire (no contract nonsense), but the pay is significantly less. Also based near NYC, salary is about $90-100k, which works out to be $60-70k relative to a typical Midwest city (which is where I live now), so I'm not terribly excited about their compensation. On the bright side, there has been almost exclusively positive comments about that company from both friends and online reviews. Nothing is perfect in life...

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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by leonard » Wed Nov 19, 2014 6:45 pm

I'd never take a job with 2 hours of commuting each day.

So, job B would be it.
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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by derosa » Wed Nov 19, 2014 6:49 pm

Keep talking with both.

If A does in fact offer you something part of that negotiation is starting date. Try it out.

If later B does in fact offer something, while working at A, and you like it then you can take it. Its a fast paced world right?

Hey its a startup, its entry level, its contract and it wasn't for me, sorry. No way would you ever be the first person to start a job and then leave a few months later.

As you have described these jobs they are contract positions. They are not making any commitment to you and your contract probably says they can let you go at any time.

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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by downshiftme » Wed Nov 19, 2014 6:49 pm

Can you clarify the nature of the three year contract. Does that mean that they will pay you three years of salary if they decide to dump you, or just that you are a contract employee and so they offer no benefits. In my field, some executives get contracts that include severance so you can know that taking a three year contract guaranteed a certain compensation and can plan a personal move, house hunting and so on based on that. Other employees, such as engineers are sometimes hired on "contract" but are really just contingent staff with no benefits who can be terminated at any time with no severance. Which of these you are being offered could make a big difference, especially as company A is known for being a difficult work environment and people who cannot thrive there are likely pushed out. The higher salary will mean little if your tenure there is short.

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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by harrychan » Wed Nov 19, 2014 6:50 pm

Company A may be a startup but the important thing is is it pre-IPO? Makes a HUGE difference if $ is a major factor. On the other hand, seems like you are barely started the interview process for company B. I would keep your options open and look at other opportunities.

What is the line of work? Programming? marketing?
This is not legal or certified financial advice but you know that already.

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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by JobConfused » Wed Nov 19, 2014 6:55 pm

derosa wrote:Keep talking with both.

If A does in fact offer you something part of that negotiation is starting date. Try it out.

If later B does in fact offer something, while working at A, and you like it then you can take it. Its a fast paced world right?

Hey its a startup, its entry level, its contract and it wasn't for me, sorry. No way would you ever be the first person to start a job and then leave a few months later.

As you have described these jobs they are contract positions. They are not making any commitment to you and your contract probably says they can let you go at any time.
I had considered this, but if I renege on Company A to go work for B, or quit after working at Company A just after a few months (which is almost as bad as reneging), then it would affect my professional image and possibly(?) burn bridges with A. Do I want to do that? Should I?

The asymmetry in ethics between employer and employee is amusing. Employers can terminate employees at will and even renege on their offers (happened during the recession), and escape unscathed, but employees who do the same run the risk of having that incident coming back to haunt you later in life.

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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by JobConfused » Wed Nov 19, 2014 6:56 pm

harrychan wrote:Company A may be a startup but the important thing is is it pre-IPO? Makes a HUGE difference if $ is a major factor. On the other hand, seems like you are barely started the interview process for company B. I would keep your options open and look at other opportunities.

What is the line of work? Programming? marketing?
It is pre-IPO, although I have not heard any news about them launching an IPO in the near future.

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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by JobConfused » Wed Nov 19, 2014 7:03 pm

downshiftme wrote:Can you clarify the nature of the three year contract. Does that mean that they will pay you three years of salary if they decide to dump you, or just that you are a contract employee and so they offer no benefits. In my field, some executives get contracts that include severance so you can know that taking a three year contract guaranteed a certain compensation and can plan a personal move, house hunting and so on based on that. Other employees, such as engineers are sometimes hired on "contract" but are really just contingent staff with no benefits who can be terminated at any time with no severance. Which of these you are being offered could make a big difference, especially as company A is known for being a difficult work environment and people who cannot thrive there are likely pushed out. The higher salary will mean little if your tenure there is short.
In both companies, my understanding is that I will be on a yearly renewable contract, and renewal is routine subject to satisfactory performance, for up till 3 years. After that time, I will be asked to leave or asked to stay (and get promoted). They most certainly will *NOT* give me 2 years of salary as a "severance package" should they terminate my employment after the first year. In both companies there is health care benefits and retirement benefits as well. Probably the best way to describe it, is that I will be a contingent staff with benefits.

In terms of the numbers of how much I can save, both companies are the same. However, if I get promoted after 3 years, Company A has a much faster salary growth than Company B. After that it is a trade off between really interesting work, a long commute and potentially toxic management (Company A) vs just a normal job with better work life balance (Company B).

For the record I am young and single, I think I can handle the lack of work life balance... for now anyway...

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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by yosef » Wed Nov 19, 2014 7:21 pm

This is the dance you have to do when interviewing. Just be thankful that your first choice will likely respond first (the other way around is worse). You should keep both companies in the loop with regard to where you are in the search process with other companies. If an offer comes in, you'll need to both stall the company that responded, and prod the company that hasn't. If the companies really want you, they'll work with you as much as they can. If you actually accept an offer from one and then renege before starting, you're definitely going to burn your bridges with that company, but it probably won't go further than that.

I have to agree with others that company A would not be my first choice. Where there's smoke there's fire, and in a startup (which I'm presuming is small), it's less likely that the working conditions are wildly different between teams.

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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by TradingPlaces » Wed Nov 19, 2014 7:42 pm

Some random thoughts, in no particular order:

1. In this situation, no one can make the decision for you, but people can offer thoughts and considerations, that can help you make a decision easier, or change your decision,

2. Challenge the assumptions:

- what makes you think that you will be commuting 2 hours into NYC. There are a lot of locations in NJ that are 15 minutes from NYC, and are not that expensive to live in. You share specific location of the company, and what type of place you want to live in, and people will give you suggestions that fit your budget,

- what makes you think that Company A will be so unreasonable. If you are their dream hire, they will bend backwards to accommodate you. You might not realize this now, but it might still be true. On the other hand, you might not even get a job offer from them,

- there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG with telling Company A that: (a) you would like to finish your interview process with Company B (and C, and D, etc), and (b) if you do get an offer, you would prefer to put them side-by-side, and decide, and (c) emphasize to them that Company A is your preferred choice anyway, but for your peace of mind, you would like to do (a) and (b),

3. You keep saying "professional development". If your idea of "professional development" is to learn how to be in management, and have 7 employees, and have 7 one-on-ones with them, and have 5-10 meetings per week where nothing gets done, then, sure, you won't get that in a start-up. I think you should respond here with a fairly detailed post as to what you mean by professional development, what your expectations are, and why you value them. That alone might help other posters here make a better decision.

For some people, working for start-ups is the best professional development they have gotten,

4. Glassdoor reviews are not worth anything. Literally. At best these are hearsay, at worst, these are written when people are upset, because they just left the company under unpleasant circumstances.

Also, unless you know some of the people who left very well, the real reason why some people left might not even be revealed from their glass door reviews.

E.g.:

- management lacks strategic vision == they ignored my ideas (and sure enough, your ideas might have been better than theirs). But perhaps you also need to work on yourself, and learn how to sell your ideas,

- management treats employees unfairly == they underpaid you (and sure enough, you might have been underpaid by the management, and you thought that others were overpaid. But then, consider what review the "overpaid" person would leave? Do you really think anyone in their right mind would leave a review saying, "My ex-employer severely OVERPAID me, and I was upset at that",

- toxic management == there were some conflicts among people in the management, and people in conflict were trying to get ahead. Someone won, someone lost, but it was toxic. Guess what? EVERY company is like that,

- toxic management == there were some conflicts among you and your peers, and management side with them.

- management promotes their friends. EVERY place is like that. What you want is that management also promotes those who are not their friends, but you will rarely see these types of reviews, because essentially the reviewer has to say this: "Although I saw management promoted their friends, I felt that they promoted non-friends, and I am a living example of that!" I dare you to find 1 Glassdoor review with the above content,

5. Instead of focusing on professional development, or longevity, or safety of a job, focus on the following:

- which job will become the best spring-board for you for your next job?

You are out of school, this is the time to take risks!

Good luck.

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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by TradingPlaces » Wed Nov 19, 2014 7:46 pm

As for taking a job, and then reneging, I think you should definitely not do that.

Instead of thinking about burning bridges, think this way.

One way to achieve the same outcome is to work Company A with some of your cards open. In the previous post, I was advocating that you lay out the facts, including temporal issues (A will give offer first, B will be later, and you need enough time to compare them side-by-side).

If they are not willing to do that, then by taking A's job, and then reneging, you are basically doing the same, but without consensual support from A. That's basically not a good business practice.

Sure enough, years later Company A might hire you just because you are their dream hire. But how would you feel, if, after hiring you, they cause you to quit your current job, and then the day before you start, reneging on the offer?

Sure, you might have a recourse, but in my hypothetical example, they would have done exactly the same thing to you that you are planning to do to them.
Last edited by TradingPlaces on Wed Nov 19, 2014 11:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by TradingPlaces » Wed Nov 19, 2014 7:49 pm

JobConfused wrote:
The asymmetry in ethics between employer and employee is amusing. Employers can terminate employees at will and even renege on their offers (happened during the recession), and escape unscathed, but employees who do the same run the risk of having that incident coming back to haunt you later in life.
Actually, that is not true. First of all, if a company reneges on an offer, candidate might have recourse, especially if candidate declined similarly lucrative offers.

Second, if any reputable company reneged on an offer for someone from a large school, the school will make sure that every student knows about it. The publicity value of reneging the offer is much higher than you think.

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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by killjoy2012 » Wed Nov 19, 2014 7:51 pm

JobConfused wrote:
downshiftme wrote: For the record I am young and single, I think I can handle the lack of work life balance... for now anyway...
With this, I would go for A if the offer is acceptable. Assuming you are not married, no kids, no house wherever you currently live, what do you really have to lose if you moved to NYC for a year or two and it doesn't work out? Not much...

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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by JobConfused » Wed Nov 19, 2014 8:08 pm

TradingPlaces wrote:1. In this situation, no one can make the decision for you, but people can offer thoughts and considerations, that can help you make a decision easier, or change your decision,
Much appreciated, I definitely need help in bouncing ideas back and forth. And yes, a number of posters have mentioned it may be premature, and I do agree, but it's something that I would like to put at the back of my mind, so that if the time comes, I know what to do, since I would have thought through it.
TradingPlaces wrote:2. Challenge the assumptions:

- what makes you think that you will be commuting 2 hours into NYC. There are a lot of locations in NJ that are 15 minutes from NYC, and are not that expensive to live in. You share specific location of the company, and what type of place you want to live in, and people will give you suggestions that fit your budget,
I use this resource for commute time as well as google maps: http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2007/ ... APHIC.html

The work place is close to Penn Station, within 15min commute. I was planning to live in Metropak or Woodbridge which is about 45min commute to Penn Station, so total about 1hr commute. For that location, I've checked that I can get a reasonable 1 bedroom apartment for $1000-1200, and I can own a car without having to pay for parking (at my home). Transport cost for monthly pass on rail, subway and parking at the train station is about $400. So total cost of rent+transport is $1400-1600, which is the number that I hope to meet. To pre-empt the question, yes I need a car. I won't be driving to work, but I need it for the weekends and evenings (lifestyle choice... I know... )
TradingPlaces wrote:- what makes you think that Company A will be so unreasonable. If you are their dream hire, they will bend backwards to accommodate you. You might not realize this now, but it might still be true. On the other hand, you might not even get a job offer from them,
I honestly don't think Company A is a bad place to work, but there's a lot of bad mouthing about Company A from my colleagues who knows a friend who was unhappy there, etc... In Company A's defense, almost all the people that I talked to who were working there or still are working there seem to enjoy it.
TradingPlaces wrote:- there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG with telling Company A that: (a) you would like to finish your interview process with Company B (and C, and D, etc), and (b) if you do get an offer, you would prefer to put them side-by-side, and decide, and (c) emphasize to them that Company A is your preferred choice anyway, but for your peace of mind, you would like to do (a) and (b),
Never thought about that... I'm not sure if I'm that ballsy to do that...
TradingPlaces wrote:3. You keep saying "professional development". If your idea of "professional development" is to learn how to be in management, and have 7 employees, and have 7 one-on-ones with them, and have 5-10 meetings per week where nothing gets done, then, sure, you won't get that in a start-up. I think you should respond here with a fairly detailed post as to what you mean by professional development, what your expectations are, and why you value them. That alone might help other posters here make a better decision.

5. Instead of focusing on professional development, or longevity, or safety of a job, focus on the following:

- which job will become the best spring-board for you for your next job?
I will be more specific about professional development. From my background and training, I have acquired a specific set of skills that are useful to the subfield I am working in. Unfortunately, that subfield is small and has stagnant/zero growth, and my long term career options are either (a) stick with Company A for the long term because I truly believe they have a good chance to revitalize the field with their technology or (b) bail out and move into a different industry that has positive growth.

Working for company A would achieve option (a) if I get promoted to a full-time hire. However, I will not be learning a lot of new skills that will be transferable or marketable.

Working for company B would achieve option (b) as I have more latitude and freedom to explore what I want to do, and pick up new skills that will put me in a more marketable position to both jobs in allied fields and in a different industry.

This is what I meant by better professional development - if I have to leave company A/B after the end of my term, I am in a much better position if I were to work for company B in terms of skills. On the other hand, by virtue that company A is situated in NYC, that also opens a lot of networking opportunities, so while I may not have acquired a broader base of skills in company A, my network will be potentially better. So which job will be a better springboard to the next job? Honestly, I don't know. They seem pretty evenly matched.
TradingPlaces wrote:4. Glassdoor reviews are not worth anything. Literally. At best these are hearsay, at worst, these are written when people are upset, because they just left the company under unpleasant circumstances.

Also, unless you know some of the people who left very well, the real reason why some people left might not even be revealed from their glass door reviews.
I like your comments, some of them are literally what I read or have heard about.

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Zapped
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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by Zapped » Wed Nov 19, 2014 8:24 pm

JobConfused wrote: Company A is interested in me, and I am interested in them. Most likely if an offer comes, it will be by Jan 2015, maybe even earlier. Company B is a bit slow, and they will only start phone screens in Dec/Jan 2015, and offers in Feb 2015 earliest. I do not think I can stall Company A for one month. So what do I do if Company A offers me a job? What are the consequences on reneging on a job offer? Honestly, I don't think I will, but I'm exploring some hypothetical here.
There's something basic I don't understand here. Let's say your worst-case scenario actually happens - you accept company A's offer but then company B comes in with an attractive offer that you decide you prefer. You call company A and politely tell them that your personal situation has changed, you greatly appreciate their offer, and you sincerely hope you could work with them in the future.

Would a reasonable company have a problem with that? No. In fact getting a negative reaction with animosity towards you would be a simple way to find out what a mistake it would have been to work at company A.

You imply, or I infer, that you think you'll somehow be blackballed from a relatively small industry. Do you think this company would actually call up their contacts at every other company to get you an some kind of hidden list? Do you think that would even be legal? Surely there must be some rational person at some company in your small industry that would laugh, at loud, right in the face of the representative of company A trying to tar & feather you in that way.

When I interview potential employees I expect that they are interviewing at other companies. I'm pleased if our company is able to attract a worthy candidate but I completely understand if another company is able to offer a candidate better compensation, more interesting work, or a more attractive location. That's life.
- Jim in Austin, TX

JobConfused
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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by JobConfused » Wed Nov 19, 2014 8:41 pm

Zapped wrote:There's something basic I don't understand here. Let's say your worst-case scenario actually happens - you accept company A's offer but then company B comes in with an attractive offer that you decide you prefer. You call company A and politely tell them that your personal situation has changed, you greatly appreciate their offer, and you sincerely hope you could work with them in the future.

Would a reasonable company have a problem with that? No. In fact getting a negative reaction with animosity towards you would be a simple way to find out what a mistake it would have been to work at company A.

You imply, or I infer, that you think you'll somehow be blackballed from a relatively small industry. Do you think this company would actually call up their contacts at every other company to get you an some kind of hidden list? Do you think that would even be legal? Surely there must be some rational person at some company in your small industry that would laugh, at loud, right in the face of the representative of company A trying to tar & feather you in that way.
I can think of several ways this can come back to bite me:
1) Recruiter/hiring manager moves into another company, and the next job I apply for 5 years from now happens to be it.
2) Recruiter/hiring manager spreads word that I am an "unethical" candidate to other recruiters/hiring managers at other companies in my field, such that in the next job I apply 5 years from now, my reputation is already tainted.
3) My would-be colleagues at Company A learn about me reneging on the offer, and starting spreading words about how "unethical" I am, word gets around which may even poison my ability to network with people in my field.
4) Recruiter/hiring manager at Company A calls up Company B and tells me how I "screwed" them. Company B then rescinds their offer.
Zapped wrote:When I interview potential employees I expect that they are interviewing at other companies. I'm pleased if our company is able to attract a worthy candidate but I completely understand if another company is able to offer a candidate better compensation, more interesting work, or a more attractive location. That's life.
If we are all as professional as you are, and take it as "business" and not too "personally" that will be great. Unfortunately, I don't think the world is that rosy. Do you?

yosef
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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by yosef » Wed Nov 19, 2014 8:44 pm

Zapped wrote:
JobConfused wrote: Company A is interested in me, and I am interested in them. Most likely if an offer comes, it will be by Jan 2015, maybe even earlier. Company B is a bit slow, and they will only start phone screens in Dec/Jan 2015, and offers in Feb 2015 earliest. I do not think I can stall Company A for one month. So what do I do if Company A offers me a job? What are the consequences on reneging on a job offer? Honestly, I don't think I will, but I'm exploring some hypothetical here.
There's something basic I don't understand here. Let's say your worst-case scenario actually happens - you accept company A's offer but then company B comes in with an attractive offer that you decide you prefer. You call company A and politely tell them that your personal situation has changed, you greatly appreciate their offer, and you sincerely hope you could work with them in the future.

Would a reasonable company have a problem with that? No. In fact getting a negative reaction with animosity towards you would be a simple way to find out what a mistake it would have been to work at company A.

You imply, or I infer, that you think you'll somehow be blackballed from a relatively small industry. Do you think this company would actually call up their contacts at every other company to get you an some kind of hidden list? Do you think that would even be legal? Surely there must be some rational person at some company in your small industry that would laugh, at loud, right in the face of the representative of company A trying to tar & feather you in that way.

When I interview potential employees I expect that they are interviewing at other companies. I'm pleased if our company is able to attract a worthy candidate but I completely understand if another company is able to offer a candidate better compensation, more interesting work, or a more attractive location. That's life.
I agree this would be unlikely to land him on some hypothetical blacklist, but I do think that it's a bit of a faux pax to renege on a signed offer. And minimally, I think the company would be unlikely to offer you employment a second time.

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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by TradingPlaces » Wed Nov 19, 2014 11:49 pm

I think Zapped has some very thoughtful comments.

Instead of thinking about reneging, you can always change your mind.

JobConfused: some of your thoughts on how reneging can hurt you are valid, but others are not. I have rarely seen a situation in which individual employees harbor any feelings towards other employees, where the actions of the latter were addressed towards the firm.

Yes, people can go out for beers and open their mouths. To the extent that they are having a private conversation, on their private time, at a private venue, outside of the company, they are allowed to do so. But the moment they actually act in the capacity of providing a referral, they are opening themselves up for a liability.

For the same reasons, if Company A called up Company B and told them that you reneged, I see two outcomes, not necessarily mutually exclusive:

- Company B would just laugh at them. Why do they care?
- You would have a legitimate reason to sue Company A. Not only would that action open up Company A to tortious interference, but also to disparagement claims.

Now, Company B would have to find legitimate business reason to either let you go or renege on your offer before the start date.

And lastly, if you are open to ideas as to where to live in New Jersey that does not require a 2-hour commute Penn Station, let me know, and I can give some suggestions. Also, I realize that your budget (rent + commute) is around $1400-$1500, so while my suggestions will be slightly more expensive, I would encourage you to think how much would be worth to you to cut one hour of commute each day, each way.

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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by LeeMKE » Thu Nov 20, 2014 12:55 am

I would take the offer from Company A if it comes. You are young and being an expert in an area is more interesting than being a generalist. If it doesn't work out, you can apply to Company B and many others on the next job search.
TradingPlaces wrote:
- there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG with telling Company A that: (a) you would like to finish your interview process with Company B (and C, and D, etc), and (b) if you do get an offer, you would prefer to put them side-by-side, and decide, and (c) emphasize to them that Company A is your preferred choice anyway, but for your peace of mind, you would like to do (a) and (b),
I was a hiring manager in STEM firms. I would laugh out loud if someone told me this after we'd written an offer. Once someone is on the shortlist, we expected them to be ready to roll once we made an offer that was acceptable. FWIW, this perfectly logical approach will not sit very well with the hiring manager and may get the offer revoked. It sounds like you are also working with recruiters -- this approach won't make them very happy either.

As for the issue of accepting from A and then reneging for a later offer from B, I wouldn't worry so much about this being a problem. Honestly, they'll not even remember your name two weeks later. No one goes out of their way to torpedo a candidate who turned them down. And no other firms will ever hear about it, because Company A doesn't appear on your resume, so no one will ever ask company A.

However, the recruiters are a different story. They will be less enthused about shepherding your case if they invested time and then didn't get paid. I try to stay friendly with the recruiters.

Worst case is you hate Company A, and then reapply with Company B in 6 months or a year. If you are a potential outstanding candidate, they'll probably be interested in talking to you again. And there are many more firms in NYC than in the entire state of TN.

I worked in Oakridge and the social life is non-existent. Fine if you have a family to go home to at night, but for single people it was deadly. There wasn't even anyone to date. Well, there was one person, but that was THE only person who was also single and could walk and chew gum at the same time.
The mightiest Oak is just a nut who stayed the course.

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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by HomerJ » Thu Nov 20, 2014 1:01 am

JobConfused wrote:The bottomline is that although I love Company A, there are 2 problems. (1) It's a startup and I am unsure if they will be around for the long term. (2) They don't seem to invest much in the professional development of their hires. IF, and I stress if, I get promoted to a full-time hire and the startup survives, then it will be my dream job in terms of the type of work, and the best option financially because the starting salary is reasonably high and the rate of salary growth is fast. In my field hitting $250k/yr is pretty much the glass ceiling, unless one moves to executive level management positions. BUT, if I am left out to dry at the end of my contract or if the company folds, then I'm screwed.
I don't understand how you're screwed... 3 years is plenty of experience to find another job...
On the flip side, I counter this argument my saying that I am in NYC, and so that will increase my opportunities to network with people in my field and outside my field (I'm also considering a lateral move outside my current profession). Company B is so-so, and I'm not terribly excited. The salary is lower, but the cost of living makes up for that, and COL calculators shows that $90k in TN = $130k in NJ. My own personal budgeting also comes to the same conclusion. If I get promoted to a full-time hire that's great, but the skills I will acquire there are more transferable than the skills I will acquire in Company A, and so even with a smaller network, I am confident of moving on to the next stage of my career.
Ah, then I'd go with TN... If you're just starting out, I'd start as a generalist.
Company A is interested in me, and I am interested in them. Most likely if an offer comes, it will be by Jan 2015, maybe even earlier. Company B is a bit slow, and they will only start phone screens in Dec/Jan 2015, and offers in Feb 2015 earliest. I do not think I can stall Company A for one month. So what do I do if Company A offers me a job? What are the consequences on reneging on a job offer? Honestly, I don't think I will, but I'm exploring some hypothetical here.
Ah, you don't have any offers yet? If A offers you a job, tell B that you have an offer on the table, but you'd rather work for them, and could they hurry up their decision? If they say No, go with A.

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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by yosef » Thu Nov 20, 2014 8:54 am

LeeMKE wrote: I would laugh out loud if someone told me this after we'd written an offer. Once someone is on the shortlist, we expected them to be ready to roll once we made an offer that was acceptable. FWIW, this perfectly logical approach will not sit very well with the hiring manager and may get the offer revoked. It sounds like you are also working with recruiters -- this approach won't make them very happy either.

As for the issue of accepting from A and then reneging for a later offer from B, I wouldn't worry so much about this being a problem. Honestly, they'll not even remember your name two weeks later.
This is completely backwards. Let me get this straight. The employer is going to get chafed and potentially revoke an offer because you're honest about having a number of balls in play and wanting to see them though, but accepting their offer and then reneging on it after they stop their search and start getting ready to onboard you is just fine?

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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by stan1 » Thu Nov 20, 2014 9:16 am

A major issue for me would be whether I wanted to be in NYC/NJ or Tennessee (especially other than Nashville e.g. Oak Ridge). Are you sure you don't care?

Put your interests ahead of the companies. When your interests align with the companies things will work out. When your interests don't align with the companies its time to move on. Get good work experience and build a network of people who respect your skills and abilities. You can't predict what will happen in 3, 10, or 30 years -- but you can control your reputation.

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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by LadyGeek » Thu Nov 20, 2014 4:28 pm

stan1 wrote:...Put your interests ahead of the companies. When your interests align with the companies things will work out. When your interests don't align with the companies its time to move on. Get good work experience and build a network of people who respect your skills and abilities. You can't predict what will happen in 3, 10, or 30 years -- but you can control your reputation.
^^^ This. Your reputation is the one thing that stays with you throughout your entire career. It takes years to build, but you can lose it in a heartbeat. Really. Don't put your reputation at risk. It's a small world.
Wiki To some, the glass is half full. To others, the glass is half empty. To an engineer, it's twice the size it needs to be.

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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by whadyaknow » Fri Nov 21, 2014 1:09 am

Yes, you can!

Here's what happened to me when I graduated. First, I had two competing offers, both from mega corps (let's call them A and B). Company A pulled my offer the week I was going to sign it, citing department budget cuts. So, I accepted the offer from B. Three weeks later, startup C offered me a job with 30% less base pay, but significant equity. I loved C beyond their monetary offering and was in a moral dilemma much like yours. After thinking about it for a week, I was convinced that if I pass on C, I'd regret it the rest of my life. I called my hiring manager from B and told him respectfully that I couldn't pass up the chance to work at C. He tried to change my mind, but understood in the end.

Company B has tried to hire me several times since then. Clearly they did not put me in some blacklist. Things change. Companies know that. It's not personal. Just be respectful and honest about it.

With regards to professional development, no formal training (management or otherwise) can beat the experience you gain while undergoing trial by fire in a startup setting. If you're young, passionate about your field of expertise and have no one to take care of other than yourself, just go with your first choice (the small company in NYC). Much like investing, you can afford to take more job risk when you are young.
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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by THY4373 » Fri Nov 21, 2014 7:49 am

One other thing to consider in your calculations is taxes. I work for a NY based company though not in the NY/NJ area but most of my co-workers do and the taxes are quite high in NY/NJ, including I believe commuter taxes if you live in NJ/CT and commute into the city. Commutes as you have pointed out are pretty bad as well. Personally if everything I read and heard about a company was that it was toxic, there is no way I'd go there, life is too short.

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Re: Trapped deciding between 2 Jobs: Can I renege on my offe

Post by lululu » Fri Nov 21, 2014 7:57 am

I haven't time to read all the replies, but I will say that Company A has warning signs all over it. I would not touch that job.

I would continue looking at other possibilities. If something comes up that you prefer to Company B, they snooze, they lose.

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