A reader writes:
I was job hunting two months ago and received two job offers. I took the offer with Company A and told Company B that I would take the offer from company A. Well, one month into my new job with Company A, I thought the job was not really what I wanted and I regret my decision turning down's Company B's offer. Then I called Company B asking whether its position is still available. Company B said it is and asked whether I would reconsider. I said Yes and verbally accepted Company B offer over the phone. Now I have Company B's offer in writing and they are waiting for my confirmation.
Now I think I might have made a huge mistake to call Company B – I'm realizing that my first month feeling with Company A is just typical new job anxiety and the job is not really bad. And I more strongly feel that it is very inappropriate and unethical to leave Company A after just one month in the job. The industry I work for is pretty tight and people talk – a lot of them know each other.
I must have screwed up and don't know what to do. Please help!
I think all you can really do is apologize profusely to Company B. Explain that you've agonized over this, but you've concluded that you can't leave Company A in the lurch after such a short time and that you need to rescind your acceptance. Make sure you acknowledge the inconvenience you've caused for Company B and be as profuse in your apology as you can.
The good news is that if Company B is smart, they were waiting to cut loose other candidates until they received your written confirmation anyway, so hopefully the damage isn't as bad as it could have otherwise been.
One other thing: You mentioned that your industry is tight-knit and people talk. It would be bad if your current company heard through the grapevine that you'd been on the verge of accepting an offer from Company B after only one month. So you should probably find ways (unconnected to this) to let your current company know that you're happy there and wanting to stay for the long haul; that way, if they do hear rumors, they'll be less inclined to assume the worst.