A reader writes:
I was contacted by Firm A, a place that I've freelanced with in the past, and have always been on excellent terms. They flew me out twice, and I interviewed with over 15 people and to a person felt a very good connection and fit. But I totally understand that they may have found a stronger candidate, of course in this economy.
I received an offer from another agency, Firm B, and informed Firm A of the pending offer in hopes of expediting their process. I expressly said that I understand they have to make a decision that is best for their business, and that I didn't expect them to short-change that process. The recruiting manager said that she doesn't want me to lose an offer in hand, but that she wanted to continue the process, they just haven't made a decision (yes, they've narrowed the field to 3 finalists, I'm one of them). She said she would get back to me early last week.
At this point I've accepted the offer from Firm B. I had already exhausted the week waiting time they gave me, so felt compelled to accept their offer.
Some of my mentors have advised me that Firm B, while being a low offer at first, has more potential. They've agreed to all near-term future career progression expectations, which is key. If, and this is a big if, Firm A does make an offer, I understand that I would be burning bridges with Firm B (big time) but Firm A is in my hometown and the place where I would eventually like to spend a good chunk of my career. What would be your advice? I assume that at this point I'm not Firm A's first choice and that they're trying to nail down their first choice before they make any other moves.
My main question at this point is I should give up any hope of Firm A extending an offer this time around. I think it's just the usual bruised ego taking control and wondering how Firm A could have found a better candidate, and also not contact me with either a yes or no.
There are two different issues here: Can you back out of a job offer you've already accepted, and what's going on with Firm A?
Backing out of a job offer you've already accepted is something you can do, but shouldn't do. You'll be screwing over that company; by now, they have turned loose their other candidates, possibly invested money in preparing for you, and may need to start the hiring process all over again with those back-up candidates gone. And you can't isolate the damage to your reputation; not only do people talk, but people have a way of popping up again, at other companies you may want to work for. Seriously, don't do it.
Besides, Company A isn't treating you like a candidate they particularly want anyway. If a candidate who I'm very interested in tells me that they have another job offer, I get them a solid answer within their timeframe. Period. Even if that answer is just, "You know, we're interested in you, but we're just not going to be ready to make an offer for a few more weeks. I understand if that means we may lose you as a candidate." That's the answer that candidates get when they're good, but not so overwhelmingly good that I'm willing to choose them right now, without considering others first. And it sounds like that's basically what Company A is trying to tell you, but without the courtesy of saying it outright.
And the fact that she said she'd get back to you last week and then didn't -- especially knowing that you have another offer? That says that the only way you're getting an offer from these people is if their other choice(s) fall through. And maybe not even then, given how cowardly so many employers are about just telling people they've been rejected.
Stick with the employer who really wants you.