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I am currently employed at a middle-sized company. The pay and work environment aren't great, so I've been looking for another job for the past few months.

About 5 weeks ago (March 11 for the sake of simplicity), I interviewed at a large Fortune 500 company (let's call it "Company A"). I felt like it went well, but a few days later the job was re-posted on the website. I asked the hiring manager at Company A and he said it was routine to allow them to interview more people internally.

Assuming that I wouldn't get this job I continued looking, and went through a 3-week interview process with a small company ("Company B", about 50 employees) that eventually made me an offer. I countered with a pretty big increase, and they met it by sending me a pdf of the revised contract. I said over the phone that the offer "looked good", and put in my two weeks notice at my current employer (this was on April 4). Company B and I established that I would start on April 22, and sign my contract then.

Now it is April 16th and, along with being very apologetic for the delay, the hiring manager at Company A calls me with an offer that beats even my revised amount with Company B by a significant margin (even before the counter offer that I plan to make). The jobs themselves are pretty comparable, but along with the better pay I would be slightly more comfortable working in Company A's stable corporate environment.

Given Company B's size, it might be a huge blow to them to have spent so much time interviewing me and waiting 2+ weeks for me to start only for me to say "never mind". If I take Company A's offer, I would immediately give Company B a tactful note or call to let them know the situation.

TL;DR: I have all but signed the contract for one offer, but a significantly better one was made by another company. So the question is: is it acceptable for me to take the better job offer days before starting at the other one, or will this somehow blacklist me? Am I legally obligated to any certain action, possibly including mentioning Company B on my future resume? Is there any other action I should take?

marked as duplicate by enderland, jcmeloni, gnat, alroc, jmac Apr 17 '13 at 3:57

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    What are the differences from your situation and this question? – enderland Apr 16 '13 at 20:16
  • Keep in mind you only have a verbal offer from Company A, don't talk to company B until you have signed contract from Company A. – mhoran_psprep Apr 16 '13 at 20:32
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    @enderland you're right they are very similar. I searched pretty extensively before posting but guess I didn't use quite the correct terms to find it. – kugo2006 Apr 16 '13 at 20:48
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    hey @kugo2006 ! whatever happened with this one, way back then!? – Fattie Apr 17 at 15:45
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    The offer with [A] was enough better (roughly 10%/$6K TC higher) that I went with them. I accepted their offer and sent [B] an email with my regrets that I would no longer be taking that job with a full explanation of the awkward timing and misunderstanding with [A] as well as a reasoning and an apology. @Fattie: The manager at [B] (who due to its small size was also the owner) replied with a short email, "I am disappointed in this decision, but better now than a month from now," then asked if I had anyone else I'd refer. – kugo2006 Apr 18 at 15:32
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If both you and Company B felt that your answer of "looked good" and your setting up a start date of April 22nd was an acceptance, then it is an acceptance. Backing out of it two weeks later is indeed not nice and is poor form. You will almost certainly annoy Company B, and will likely be on the "bad list" there, and with folks who work there.

That said it is very unlikely that Company B will pursue you legally. (I am not a lawyer, so will not comment on the actual legality of your move).

I once worked at a company where we hired a Developer. The day he was due to start, he sent an email saying that changed his mind and wasn't actually going to show up. He also mentioned that his father was a prominent local attorney (who was often in the television news). We didn't pursue any legal remedies, but I would never try to hire this guy again. And if I found out he was about to be hired by someone I cared about I'd warn them. I don't know if that's considered "blackballing" or not.

Your best bet is to be honest with Company B, apologize profusely, and accept the fact that your name will likely be "mud" to them. And no - don't mention Company B on your resume ever again - no good can come of that.

  • Great advice! I will see if I can find anyone with legal repute who I can get a certain answer on – kugo2006 Apr 16 '13 at 20:51
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    Very good point. Another thing to consider is that company B may blacklist you, and would not allow you to work there under any circumstances, even as a consultant in the future. You also need to consider the size of the geographic area, and the culture of the area. You can getaway with actions in NYC that you couldn't in Fargo. Also, the folks at B that remember you may ended up at company that you apply to later. – Xenson Apr 16 '13 at 22:28

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