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Question

Context

I've applied for multiples jobs at different companies. Just yesterday, I interviewed with company A and today I got a phone call from the same company saying that they're interested and want to send me an offer.

So far so good, but I was bit astonished when just a few moments ago, out of the blue, I got a call from company B saying that they want to interview me.

Key points

  1. This is my first job. I have a Master's Degree since the end of January 2021. Although I have been made offers by companies outside of my field, I haven't accepted them since I'd really like to work in the field I graduated from.

  2. Company A has offered me a good contract for a position outside of my home country. The job is in a country which is one of the best in the field, and is likely to have plenty of connections with expert organisations.

  3. Company B has only offered to interview me. The job would be at my home country, but would likely pay worse than what was offered by company A.

  4. Although both jobs are in the same field, the job at company B would be a much closer fit to what I'm looking for. I am somewhat afraid that the job at company A won't be challenging enough.

  5. Both companies are multi-national, and my overall goal would be to work outside my home country.

  6. Company A really needs someone to fill the position and they're almost counting me in. They gave me only until tomorrow morning (at best, and it would be already with some "favours") to give them an answer.

Options I'm considering

  1. The option I'm most inclined to take is accept the offer of company A and politely decline the interview chance with company B. This would be good due to point 2, and would already fill the goal of point 5. The main problem I have with this is point 4 above.

  2. (This point is only here for the sake of argumentation, but it is nothing short of madness in my opinion) I can decline the offer with company A, and try my luck with company B. This would be good because the job is closer to what I'm looking for (point 4), but I'm basically walking through fire since I have no guarantees I'd be hired, nor that the salary/conditions would be comparable (my home country tends to pay a lot less than other countries).

  3. The only other option I can think of is in a grey area in terms of my view on work ethics (and thus, also the major reason of me writing this question). I can sign the contract with company A and do the interview with company B. The work with company A would only start in October, so in the meantime I could probably do the interview with company B to get a better read on the situation. If they offer is comparable, I may be inclined to chose company B due to point 4.
    That being said, this would probably leave me on bad terms with company A, since I would have already agreed to be working for them. Even if I wait some time after the job starts and leave during probation, I don't know if it would be seen in a good light.

Final thoughts and actual question

If company A would have given me some more time (I've asked and they really cannot/are not willing to), I could probably work things out. But, in any case, here is the main question: I'm probably going with option 1. Is it worth to string company B and do the interview with them, so that I can later chose option 3? If so, is option 3 actually unethical? I know it doesn't sit that right with me, but then again I'd probably be overworked by a company if they told me "we're really in trouble and need you to work overtime so that we can end this project"...

Answer to Philip Kendall (too long for a comment, and might be useful to the post as well)

Yes, I definitely agree with that. That being said, I'd like to add a few points:

  1. The company is not the "direct" contractor. Yes, I'd be working under them, but the job itself is a service company A provides to another organisation. That organisation does have its urgency (the job must start in October).

  2. The reason company A gave me was as follows: "This offer would have to be processed internally, and then be sent through an international staff and the country where the job will be done. This can take around 2 weeks, which would leave us with no margin to search for another candidate if we give you more time to think and then you decline on us".

The offer being undervaluing me is actually my biggest concern (the fact that it only asks for a Bachelor's Degree doesn't help either). That being said, I am somewhat desperate to a job on the field since I've been looking for so long and little to no interviews. Also, I might make it easier to find a more suited job down the line, since the place is really close to one of the most prestige centres in the field (and has close ties to it).

Update

I've decided to go with option 1. At the very least, I want to give this job the benefit of the doubt. I've let company B know that I took the offer of company A. Still, I told them that I'd still be open for an interview (if they're interested), since I haven't ruled out working for them in the future. But for the next couple of months (at least), I wouldn't be able to accept an offer from them.

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  • @PhilipKendall The answer was somewhat long, so I edited the post to answer.
    – Jak
    Sep 9 '21 at 17:13
  • @JoeStrazzere As much as I hate to admit it, by the time they contacted me I had no better options. All the offers I had had so far were off-field, and the offer with company A seemed to be the one with most growth potential. At the end of the day, I still need to put food on the table =(
    – Jak
    Sep 9 '21 at 17:36
  • "They gave me only until tomorrow morning" Proposing a 24h deadline for such an important decision could be considered a red flag - no reasonable employer will only give you that little amount of time to make such a decision. If they give you 7-14 days - that would be ok, but 24 hours is not IMO..
    – iLuvLogix
    Sep 10 '21 at 10:04
  • So this is a contract gig for company A. They will be your umbrella and pimp you out to Company C, which is their client. Usually it's a lot more profitable to sign a freelancing contract with Company A then become their employee. Also, such contracts usually look for skilled experienced freelancers, it's odd that they would take someone with no work experience. The fact that they are in such a hurry to sign you probably means their client liked you too and is pushing them. If you pursue this path, make sure they at least pay for accommodation for a few months and a small relocation bonus.
    – BoboDarph
    Sep 10 '21 at 11:34
  • I wouldn't feel sorry for shafting an umbrella company, they are usually scummy and just try to profit off your contract. If you think you need more time to think it over, worst thing that happens is they pick the next candidate. Do your homework before you leave, COVID mucked things up in many countries so travelling and renting might be difficult. Especially if you are on a short duration contract not a full time employment. If your work is full remote, check when your real place of work expects you to be present in office. And plan accordingly.
    – BoboDarph
    Sep 10 '21 at 11:39
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Quick thoughts for a quick question:

  • Ethics are personal. In general, on a lot of these, you're going to have to make the call for yourself.

  • Company A has indicated that they desperately need you ASAP. That's... kind of weirdly high-pressure (what if you just say no?) and is especially odd for entry-level. No company should be that time-crunch dependent on getting an entry-level person Right Now. The fact that the work itself doesn't even start until October? This starts looking a bit sleazy.

  • Other than that, though, the only issue you seem to have with Company A is that it's maybe not challenging enough. On the other hand, it'll get you out of the country, and get you lots of good contacts. So you can leverage that. Spend the time resources and mental resources that you save by it not being challenging enough to really excel at the job, and possibly find other ways to make yourself useful. Use this to make a particularly good impression on your many contacts. That's your best path to getting a job that's out of the country, that pays well, and that gives you the kind of work you're most interested in.

In general, there's a lot of moderately unethical things you could do right now. You can pretty much tell that based on how you're feeling about it. It's possible that Company A is doing moderately unethical things to you. Long-term, though, it's looking like Company A is the better path to the life you actually want, and that's an offer you have in hand. Just take it.

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  • Ethics are personal, but one thing the OP should understand about the workplace is that companies make decisions without considering ethics - they only care about money. The instant you cost more than the value that (they think) you deliver, the instant they will look to remove you. So, in my mind, you should not feel any special ethical obligation to a company. Sep 9 '21 at 16:25
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    @dan.mwasuser2321368 One can, of course, go with the amorality answer here. At the same time, people derive real value from being ethical, as well as from having others be ethical. Thus, ti's a personal thing.
    – Ben Barden
    Sep 9 '21 at 16:28
  • @dan.mwasuser2321368 This summarises my internal quest so well. I do believe to be an ethical person, but maybe I'm over evaluating the ethic part and getting screwed over by it. So far, I really don't have any obligation to the company, apart of the ones I'm placing on myself...
    – Jak
    Sep 9 '21 at 17:20
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I'm probably going with option 1. Is it worth to string company B and do the interview with them, so that I can later chose option 3?

If you are not planning to take an offer (assuming one is made), then you should not waste their time (and thus money) by continuing with through the interview process.

I can sign the contract with company A and do the interview with company B. The work with company A would only start in October, so in the meantime I could probably do the interview with company B to get a better read on the situation. If they offer is comparable, I may be inclined to chose company B due to point 4.

You would need to look at what your contact says - generally there will be a few months probation period when you can leave with little or no notice. Company A probably won't be very happy if you leave during this period because you have a better offer - but then that's how business goes. If you decide to "leave" before you even start there that would probably be better, because it means they won't have wasted as much time and money on your training/induction.

As for whether it's ethical, that's a harder question to answer. But let's imagine it was the other way round.

If you accepted the offer for company A and signed a contract with them, how would you feel if they came back to you in a couple of weeks and say "We've found a candidate who's a better fit for us, so we're withdrawing the offer"? Would you consider that to be an "ethical" company? Or would you feel that they'd screwed you over and wasted your time?

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  • 1
    The point on the ethical part is a very nice one indeed. I must say, I'd be inclined to say they'd screw me over. Then again, as Philip Kendall said in his comment, maybe I'm getting screwed over anyway ^^'
    – Jak
    Sep 9 '21 at 17:16
  • Pressure from a company at this stage can be a warning sign, but then there are a lot of companies at the moment who are desperate for staff. It certainly puts you in a good position if you want to try and negotiate salary - if they really are desperate then they might agree to something higher that their initial offer.
    – Gh0stFish
    Sep 9 '21 at 17:24
  • @JoeStrazzere My other comment may also help. In any case, I'd like to clarify (a possible) misunderstanding. My whole problem with this is not the company itself, nor I'm trying to screw over anyone. But I do believe the job at company B would be a much better fit (subject-wise) than the job at company A. The part of me being screwed over already was more of a joke. That being said, I have a guaranteed offer from company A, over a possibility of an offer from company B.
    – Jak
    Sep 9 '21 at 17:44
  • The example of your last paragraph doesn't really fit the situation here, since there is a contract involved. If either side breaks the contract, that should be an ethical question, regardless of the legality of doing so. But if you've just agreed to do an interview, that's not a contract yet. Neither side knows what will happen in that interview, and both sides know perfectly well that not every interview is going to result in a job offer or acceptance.
    – Brandin
    Sep 13 '21 at 16:18
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You ask as if ethics are something outside of you.

Your ethics need to be considered. What I mean by that is that you have to put your self care first in business. Businesses are notorious for asking people to work beyond what is healthy for them.

A company that demands a quick decision from someone just coming out of school is not one that I would want to work for. In my experience, a company like that was one that moved people on little notice, asked for insane work hours, and destroyed people's health and marriages. While the pay was nice, the costs nearly destroyed me.

A company that better fits your personality, character, and style might be better for you even when it pays less because it puts far less cost on you, your health, and your relationships.

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