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A few months ago I joined a consulting company that's amassing a pretty good reputation and I've been working on projects that generally last 3-4 months. I'm finishing up one project and starting another one that's pretty important to my company.

Meanwhile, due to our good repuation, I've been approached by several startups that want to have a chat with me. So far I told them that I'm busy with some projects and maybe I'll talk to them in the future. One even insisted a bit by offering some equity. Another one is our competitor that I use as a reference in one project I helped build.

My concerns are:

  • Is it rude or otherwise unwise careerwise to be refusing opportunities left and right without even having a brief chat? Maybe deep inside I'm trying to be "loyal" to my company and deliver this project that seems pretty important to them and perhaps be "promoted" or something like that.
  • I have some doubts about the future of my current company because lately some of our top employees are leaving for start-ups themselves.
  • If my employer finds out that I've been considering other offers, it might ruin my chances of promotion given the small networking circle I am in.

Given all of these concerns, how should I respond to other job opportunities?

10

Well you never want to be rude to an individual offering you a job or a sit down. It comes down to networking - the more people you know in your field the better. If something terrible happens to your company that leaves you out of a job you may need to fall back on to these people for opportunities.

That being said you can just as easily turn down an opportunity and say that you are satisfied with your current position but keep their email, phone number or other relevant information. Usually I like to add them onto my linkedin. If you are committed to your company it becomes beneficial as a "Keep your enemies closer" situation so you can keep up to date on what they are doing.

Your networking with competitors probably won't get you fired and if you play your cards right it could even become beneficial. Which reminds me of a story where my friend was in a similar situation. She loved her job but the pay wasn't exactly where it was at so she started looking for another position at different companies. She found a company that was offering her a solid position with the pay she wanted so she planned on taking it. Her boss found out an called her into a meeting where they talked about both positions and by the end she got a raise that ended up better than the other companies offer. So if you're a real asset to the company, they will try their best to keep you there.

TL;DR You can turn down job offers, but don't be rude about it and keep them in you arsenal - if you need them, they're there as backups.

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    I wasn't rude by any means when I refused to have a brief chat with them. I did add them to my contacts and I kept the doors open saying I might be available in the future. – chiurox Jun 18 '12 at 17:34
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    While Howdy's friend had luck in getting a counter offer it often is dangerous to take an offer at that point. Discussions about your compsensation being low should be held before you entertain an offer from another company. Once your employeer finds out you are looking for a job any offers should be treated as a patch to the actual problem. – Donald Jun 20 '12 at 16:12
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In the business world, loyalty is for dogs. You owe your current employer nothing. You owe it to yourself to consider new opportunities. It seems you are in high demand today, and you should sell your services for as much as you can. Look at it this way: if someone is willing to pay more, then they believe that you can deliver more value in their employ, not just for them, but for the world.

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    "You owe your current employer nothing" - he has only been with them a few months. Many would think a new employee should stay a year or so just to repay the company's hiring expenses. It also assumes that they didn't pay moving expenses or for training which can have some obligations. – mhoran_psprep Jun 18 '12 at 10:35
  • I am a contractor (pretty much all of my coworkers are) and we are paid by the hour for our services. Some of my coworkers have left to work directly for our clients because they did a good job. So yes, I guess I don't owe my current employer anything. – chiurox Jun 18 '12 at 17:38
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    @mhoran_psprep: "Many would think..." yes, they do, and companies exploit this feeling. But companies can and do layoff workers within a year of hiring. – kevin cline Jun 18 '12 at 19:17
  • What you might owe them is $'s Moving expenses and educational expenses usually come with strings attached. If you leave before the minimum time, you have to pay the money back. – mhoran_psprep Jun 18 '12 at 19:40
  • @mhoran: Perhaps, if one signed a contract to that effect. Even then it might not be enforceable. Even if it were enforceable, the potential recovery is probably not worth the expense of litigation. – kevin cline Jun 19 '12 at 16:51

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