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I just moved to a new city and started job hunting. I got 2 offers (Job A and Job B), and accepted Job A. I had second thoughts and told Job A that I would not be joining them, and joined Job B instead as I thought it was the better choice.

After working at Job B, I realized it wasn't what I had expected, and left Job B. I called Job A again and asked them if I could have the job back if it hadn't been filled, as well as applying for Job C at the same time. Job A offered me the position again and I accepted. In the meantime, I went through the interview process at Job C (which I would prefer), and was just told that they would offer me the job.

I am scheduled to start Job A in a few days. This will be the second time I inform Job A that I will not be joining in favor of another offer after having accepted the offer. What is the professional way to handle this conversation with Job A?

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Hey karen, and welcome to The Workplace! Your question was a bit difficult to parse, so I broke it up in to paragraphs and copy edited it a bit. if you think I missed the point, please feel free to edit it. Thanks in advance! –  jmac Jul 12 at 15:52
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No problem, thank you. It's such a convoluted situation that I had a hard time putting it in writing so thank you! –  karen Jul 12 at 16:12

3 Answers 3

Contact company C and tell them that you have another offer pending (firm commitment from their side) and that you'd really like to accept their offer...but you need it in writing.

Once you have the offer from company C in writing (and not before) check it to make sure it meets the terms you thought you were agreeing to. If the agreement does outline what you thought you were agreeing to, and it still sounds like what you ultimately want, THEN it's time to decide what to do about company A.

How to deal with Company A is tricky. They've offered you a job, you've found other opportunities twice now, it's NOT a calm or easy situation. If company A offered you something different - more flexible schedule, slightly more money, a slight change in job duties - would that make company A's offer more attractive than Company C? If so, counterpropose those new terms to them and see if they're interested in keeping you on. Start negotiating, and have a definite idea of what you'll accept to stay with Company A.

If nothing that Company A says or does will entice you to stay with them...explain to them that you've been offered a fantastic opportunity, it really offers you better career options and lets you do what you love (or whatever your reasons for taking that role are,) and if possible - let them know of any people you know, who are both looking, and who might be a good fit.

(And, a slightly related question: which group of people did you get on with better? Company A, or Company C? Working with people whom you genuinely like personally and professionally, can make ALL the difference in the world. It can make a job with that's otherwise very good but NOT your ideal job description, into a much more positive experience. That might also factor into your considerations: do you really want to go with Company C over Company A? Why?)

Also: if you don't get an offer in writing from Company C...start the job at company A. I have had jobs offered verbally, with a start date and scope and everything...only to have them suddenly vaporize because of some unforseen internal factor. Do not count on Company C's offer as firm until it's in writing. Then look at all factors, and decide whether or not to take it.

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This will be the second time that I do this to company A...any advice, suggestions of what to say? I feel terrible to do this. They have been so nice.

There's little you can say to Company A that will do them (or you) any good.

Just say "goodbye". Tell them that you are sorry, but you really won't be joining them. Be professional about it. Don't contact them again, even if Company C turns out to be terrible.

At best, they will think you are confused and indecisive. At worst, they'll think you are a jerk who took advantage of their good nature. I mostly feel bad for the hiring manager. He/she will probably lose some political capital over this.

It doesn't matter much now - it's time for you to move on, and time for Company A to move on without you.

Try to learn from this going forward, and not commit to a job without intending to stay. Do your homework before accepting a position. Repeating this mistake is not good for your career.

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Thank you Joe, I certainly understand that this not a good situation to be in. I really had not choice but to go back to job A. At the time job C interview was 3 weeks away. –  karen Jul 12 at 16:07

The professional way is to let them know that you are not intending to take the position offered. As for the rest of it, you just burned your bridges with that employer and that employer not unreasonably may feel that you jerked them around. Live with it. It's not the end of the world for them, though - They'll just have to make the offer to their second best prospect.

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