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I got contacted by a company from another city with two job offers. Now, working at this specific company would match my long term career strategy and steer it in the right direction but there are two main problems:

  1. I do not want to stop the collaboration with my current company in the next 3-4 months.
  2. I cannot leave my city for a somehow longer period of time (8-12 months).

On the other side I simply cannot let the opportunity pass. So I see about two main solutions:

a) Accept one of the offers, go with the interview process but kindly decline the offer in the end trying my best to leave an open door for future. Get in contact with them when I am ready to move, considering they are still open to collaboration.

b) Be straight forward with the recruiter and accept the offer but also mention that I am unable for any collaboration in the next few months although I am really interested and would like to follow through.

How should I best handle this situation?

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Be straightforward. Tell them what you just told us, and invite them to contact again in [state the number of] months. Again, emphasize your strong interest and make it clear that the only reason you have to decline being interviewed at this point in time is the unfortunate timing.

  • I would, too, suggest that I'm able to go to the interviews if they want, but understanding that it's factible that they don't want to waste their time at the moment interviewing a candidate that won't join them by now. – mgarciaisaia Nov 13 '14 at 21:57
  • Yes-ish, but don't be "too" clear. The company may wish to be more clear they want to hire you, e.g. via $$$ or flexibility. – user1084 Nov 13 '14 at 23:05
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So explain this to them, then see exactly how much they are willing to pay you for those 3-4 months you are thus far unwilling to give up. If they push forward with interviewing it's their prerogative, but keep in mind: things change quite rapidly once offers with big shiny numbers are on the table.

Also try not to get stuck in "pawn warriors" style negotiation. There may still be extremely collaborative solutions available, which might be as simple as them offering you a job a year from now. It sounds absurd but large companies do this with students and grad students routinely, at scales of 6 months to a year. If you're interested, be interested! Let the conversation sort itself out from there. Stupid comparison: boys and girls invariably flirt with people they're not that interested in, to see what might change in the first 5 minutes...

You just told me you have excellent negotiation leverage. So use it! Your integrity is not in conflict; quite the contrary, they enforce each other here.

The only loss here is your time in interviewing. It sounds like it pays for itself just in the relationship you build with an obvious target company. For example, wouldn't it be great to get rejected now then know exactly how to prepare when you interview "for real" in 6-12 months?

You and the recruiter should both get something out of this. Your potential with the company should increase on both your sides.

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No straight answer

Sadly this is one of those questions that the best answer is probably depends.

Decide priorities

Before you accept, decline, etc you need to decide your priorities and act based on those. I Highly recommend every one working person, stay at home parent, retired people, etc. Take a day or two every few months to stop and sort out what's important to them short and long term, and of those things order them from most to least important. When you face a hard choice like the one mentioned you consult the list, of the choices which best covers your highest priorities?

Choose based an the data, not the heart

When dealing with life matters it's very easy to take a knee jerk or emotional approach to choices, which results in a mixed bag of results, some unavoidable, some completely avoidable. You need to use what data you can collect, compare it against your priorities, and make an informed choice.

In this case you're data is salary, cost of relocation, respective cost of living, your list of priorities, and anything those companies and locations offer toward that list.

Always plan to move forward, but have a plan B

Right now you're involved in a collaboration you really don't want to leave... does this collaboration have a future with you? or is this something you want to do that once it's done, it's done? Is staying a benefit or a detriment to your priorities? If you leave the collaboration early will you be welcome back if things don't work out? Will staying potentially stall your career?

You need to consider all these things, and you need to decide what you're willing to risk, and what you're not willing to risk.

What can you do?

Really there are only a few routes and there likely results...

  • Take the new Job. You get the new job and walk away from the collaboration. Possibly a bridge is burned, maybe not. You are taking the route most likely to benefit your career and financial well being, with a lot of unknowns to be dealt with.
  • You reject the new job on good terms and offer to reapply later. (or similar) You stick to being part of a collaboration you enjoy benefiting your peace of mind and likely keeping your stress a bit lower than going through the transition of a new job with relocation. It's possible this could stall your career and cost you an excellent opportunity, but there will be others.
  • You ask for a significantly later start time. It's not unheard of but 3 - 6 months isn't likely unless we're talking way up the company ladder like CTO or CFO, and even then it's rare. You can explain your involved in a project you'd prefer not walk away from, likely though this simply means you'll not get the job, they might also not take you seriously the next time you apply.
  • You take the job and try to come up with some way to still be involved with the collaboration remotely. This could be the best of both worlds, or completely unrealistic borderline impossible depending on the nature of the collaboration, the outcome of which depends heavily on details we don't have.

What I would do?

Sadly there are just too many details missing for me to even say... It would likely be split between taking the offer, or turning it down and trying again later.

Good luck, just keep focus on your goals and what benefits them or works against them, decide accordingly.

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