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I'm graduating college, and beginning to apply to companies for work starting in the summer. I'm mostly looking at paid internship-type positions in order to gain more experience before a "more real" job. So, I'm applying to several places and seeing who will bite, so to speak.

There's basically 2 companies I would really like to work for. From what I've read about them, Company 1 (C1) has a program that lasts for about a year, and it could get extended for another, but after that you're out. Company 2(C2) has a "residency" program where you spend two years with a mentor learning and doing work, and then you're sent on your way.

I would love to work for both, but obviously can't do that at the same time. If I had to choose, C1 would be my first choice. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm applying to both of them since I'm not guaranteed a spot in either, and would rather have a job, then make the wrong guess. Obviously in the case where one offers me a job and the other doesn't, just take the job. In the case where both offer me a job, I would like to take the job at C1 (withdrawing from C2), and then in the future, after my time there, re-apply to C2 (unless there's a reason not to).

Here's my question: In general, does turning down a job at C2 negatively affect my chances of applying there again a year or two after?

  • It depends if it is a large or small company, so you would have to explain that. – Fattie Jan 25 at 15:14
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In general no. It can even work as a positive, because it shows other companies consider you to be a good hire, too. Just make sure you thank the hiring manager and express your desire to work for company C2 in the future when you turn down the offer.

I can imagine there will be exceptions, but with enough number of hiring managers at a company, I'm sure you can find one that takes it positively or at least neutral.

I would never consider taking the job from C2 just for the fear that turning it down might negatively affect my chances a few years later.

  • In addition, if C2 asks during the interview process "are you applying elsewhere", the OP should reply "yes, I've got an on-site interview scheduled next week and a couple of other applications in the pipeline" - without mentioning names. If the OP replies "No" and then turns C2 down because they got a better offer that may cause them to mark the OP as unreliable. – Martin Bonner Jan 25 at 9:49
  • Thanks for your answer. This is exactly what I wanted to know. – SH7890 Jan 25 at 13:05
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It shouldn't as long as you do it in a polite and professional way.

I'm blowing my own trumpet here, but the approach suggested here seemed to go well.

[That question was asking about the interview stage, but the same applies throughout the process.]

  • Thanks for the answer, and the link to the other similar question. I'll be checking that one out. – SH7890 Jan 25 at 13:04
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I might understand the two positions wrong but they both seem like training opportunities for what you describe.

As you say the question really is

"What should I write on my rejection letter to C2?"

The answer is very simple, I feel something along these lines should suffice:

Dear [hiring manager]

Thank you for the opportunity for the interview and also for the offer.

During the interview I had mentioned that I had an interview with C1. I had researched all the companies in the area and felt the programs that both company offer are the best in the area.

However I feel that C1 program is better to start with and they have offered this to me.

In this instance I will be declining your offer in favor of their offer, but as this will finish in 12 months I will attempt to reapply then.

I hope that the opportunity is there when the time comes as I feel I will bring more experience and knowledge with me when I accept your offer next.

Looking forward to working with you.

Kind regards,

[the decliner]

EDIT: forgot to say...LETTER yes...I believe a letter would be better equipped for this.

The reason behind the wording on the letter is simple, you confirm their idea that you researched them and their job, you compliment as one of the best, and you still leave an open invitation to join them when your other training/job is over.

  • Thanks for the example letter. One question, though, should I really mention C1 in the letter? That seems like something I shouldn't do. – SH7890 Jan 25 at 13:03
  • SH7890 - If you mentioned that you had the interview, yes definitely. Being open is always the best policy in my opinion... – fireshark519 Jan 25 at 13:07
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    Not about to downvote, but I'd be bothered as a Hiring Manager by "when I accept your offer next". It presumes there will be another offer, which actually makes one less likely. I wouldn't mention C1 at all - if the companies are rivals (think Microsoft / Apple) this could turn out to be a negative factor. Open is always good, but I'd keep it simple at this point (though if they asked whether I was going to C1, I'd answer). – ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere Jan 25 at 13:33
  • @ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere again, as I explained, this is the approach I would use for 2 different TRAINING opportunities which is what the OP makes it sound like. Actual job opportunities would be a completely different approach and I would agree with you on that instance... – fireshark519 Jan 25 at 13:55
  • Perhaps the way I phrased my question was misleading. So, sorry if that was the case. While these potential positions are mostly learning/training positions, they're still real jobs, and I agree with @ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere (great username btw) in this situation. – SH7890 Jan 25 at 18:08
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In general, does turning down a job at C2 negatively affect my chances of applying there again a year or two after?

It depends on the company. Where I work it absolutely does.

We have lots of applications per job. There are lots of hoops to jump thru. If you have managed to get pretty far in the process then you're already deeply ahead of the game and it will be hard to get that far again in the future.

I work a lot with our recruiters and after you burn one by wasting his time then that rep will follow you for quite a while.

  • Thank you for your perspective. The positions I'm applying for have simpler, less competitive processes. I will note this for in the future. – SH7890 Jan 25 at 18:15

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