So I have been looking for a job that offers more remote work. I have signed a conditional offer based on the outcome background check. I was told this process could be anywhere from 4 to 7 weeks. I had another interview scheduled during the same time with a larger company during this same period and now they are wanting to extend an offer. Would it be wrong to back out of the first company’s offer to pursue the second?

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    You might want to add your location. And it might depend on who the condition was phrased and how you accepted. In Germany, for example, you usually cannot leave an employment contract without serving your notice period and you usually cannot give notice before your actual start day. On the other hand, if you just agreed that the offer itself is okay but that both parties will wait for the outcome of the next step and then sign a final contract, then it is a different story. Feb 13, 2021 at 7:08
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    I think you need to do what you think is best for you and your career.
    – Rich
    Feb 14, 2021 at 10:43
  • So let me get that straight. You don't even have a starting date from the first organization? What did you sign exactly? Did they agree to a salary and benefits? What was in the letter? Ethically, I don't think it would be wrong to accept the second job offer (but don't accept until you get a contract first and don't disclose too much to the first company when you reject them, don't even update your LinkedIn). Legally, I don't know if this would be wrong, but it's best to be cautious since we don't know what jurisdiction you're from and what is it exactly that you signed. Feb 15, 2021 at 2:39

5 Answers 5


I was told this process could be anywhere from 4 to 7 weeks.

That is an incredibly long time to expect someone to wait.

At best that can be described as a "plan" ... where they might hire you in two months or so.

Because it is so incredibly long ... of course it would be absolutely normal that you pursue other opportunities.

Please consider this: let's say, for some reason or another, they did not hire you two months from now. (This could happen for a hundred reasons - the company could go bankrupt, sales of the product involved could go down, a key employee on the project could die, management could change - any number of reasons.) If that happened then ... if anything ... you'd get anautomatic email alerting you that the position is no longer available.

Would it be wrong to [ pursue the other offer ]?

No matter how you interpret "wrong" it is absolutely not wrong in any way.

What they have told you so far is, simply, "we might give you a job in two months if we want to".

Note too that in the question above, it reads: would it be wrong to "back out of the first company’s offer" ... you are not "backing out of" anything!!

You have literally been told "we might hire you in two months if we want to".

Put it another way. Say someone said to you

  • "Wait one hour while we check something and you're hired"

If during that hour you cheekily took a different job, sure, that would be a bit sharp, a bit aggressive.

But if someone says

  • "Wait a couple months while we check something and you're hired"

it would be completely normal if at some point in there you sent them an email "You may remember me, John Smith, I'm pursuing other opportunities, thanks."


It probably depends on how the offer letter is written but the vast majority of offer letters that I've seen do not obligate you to work for them. They elaborate on the companies obligations to you (to pay you, to provide insurance, to offer x vacation days, etc), but they don't obligate you to the company.

That said, it might not be a bad idea to tell the hiring manager or recruiter or whatever for this new company about your conditional offer and see if they foresee any problems arising from that.


First, my company does "contingent upon successful background check" offers because the City of Austin requires a signed offer before background can be run, not because we want to bind a candidate to our company. For locations that don't have such requirements, we offer the background check to the prospective employee long before the offer is made, sometimes even before the first in person (or now in-video) interview happens.

From experience, especially in the Austin job market, I am surprised if the prospective employee hasn't received another offer before the 5-10 day background has completed. For every five candidates I present offers to, I only expect about three to actually still come aboard once the background has completed.

Analogy time - No compete clauses are often not upheld or even pursued in court for jr. to mid level employees because it can inhibit the livelihood of the individual. Even if there was a clause in the offer letter that said you are bound to this position if you pass background, I can't imagine it being upheld, especially with a ridiculous time frame like that.

Finally, as a hiring manager with my current company for 14 years, I wouldn't want to work for a company that binds, or even looks down upon, candidates that take other positions before your own bureaucratic process is finished.


"Looks like you have a decision to make!"


I think the “wrong” in your question is/should be “unprofessional”. So, I will consider it as such and say that I think most professions would not consider rejecting a previously accepted contingent offer before the contingency has happened as unprofessional. Typical contingencies are there in order to protect the employer (visa, background, internal expansion, end of hiring freeze), but the employer should understand that by putting the contingency in place they are placing an extra burden on the prospective employee and thus an increased chance that something will happen that will cause the employee to reconsider.

Would this cause a hiring manager to reject the applicant at a different employer in the future? Not a manager that I would be interested in working for.

On a more legal and less professional note, acceptance of a conditional contract (such as pending background check), might not be considered acceptance of the contract.

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