The Scenario:

I will graduate in May. Right now I have good offer with Job A. It makes a good salary in an alright location. I have applied for another job, Job B, and made it past the pre-screen, past testing, but I have not interviewed yet. Should I pass the interview, I will be given a conditional job offer, contingent on a rigorous background check. The background check may take two months to process and then the offer is solidified.

I do not think the background check will be a problem. This is my first job and I'm a good kid. I don't expect it will even take two months. However, I haven't made it to that stage yet.

Job B is my preferred job. It's in an area I like, a field I enjoy, and it intersects with many other industries. I've called my recruiter, but they haven't called back.

The Question:

May I accept the first job while waiting to see if the second offer materializes? If it does, I won't have graduated yet, so I won't have begun working at Job A. I know this will burn some bridges at Job A. I'm only beginning my career; I figure it will not matter much down the line.

How it differs from the link question:

This is my first real job. I have no real connections. Furthermore, if I get Job B, it will be before I graduate school, so I won't even have begun work at Job A.

  • This question is asked so often it's getting ridiculous. It is indeed a duplicate – AndreiROM Dec 16 '15 at 21:41
  • I just spent like an hour coaching someone through this exact situation a couple weeks ago. Check my recent answers and find it... – user42272 Dec 17 '15 at 1:05
  • I think this is different than the question answered due to this being their first real job. None of the answers in the link question hits on that at all. – blankip Dec 17 '15 at 6:03
  • Confirmed duplicate, the length of one's career is irrelevant when it comes to professional standards. Recent grads might get a bit of a pass on certain screw-ups but accepting an offer when you don't expect to actually start the job is never ok. It's unethical and disrespectful to the company and the other candidates for the job. – Lilienthal Dec 17 '15 at 12:06

Don't burn bridges.

I'm going to repeat that. DON'T BURN BRIDGES. You never know who knows who, or where they're going to re-appear in your life down the line. Especially if you stay in the same area/industry. It's alright to turn down a job offer. It's not alright (or, even, smart) to accept an offer, only to renege on it a week later.

Would you hire someone who was dishnonest? Who accepted an offer in good faith knowing full well they didn't intend to honour it if they had the choice? Employers care an awful lot more about your attitude and ethics than how high your grades were. If you piss off the manager at job A by stringing them along, what are the odds they won't call job B to let them know just what kind of person they're hiring?

Now, to your specific situation.

Find out how much time you have with job A.
Do not mention job B, just say "I'd like to discuss this with (people, mentors, etc.) and get their advice. When do you need an answer by?".

Then, either job B will confirm one way or the other by your due date, in which case there is no problem. Or they don't, in which case you have to choose.

My personal opinion:
If you feel that you have enough in-demand attributes that losing A and then also losing B wouldn't be a huge problem, then go for B. If B is truly *the* dream job whereas A is merely ok, go for B.

Otherwise, in your situation, I would take A over B in a heartbeat. Just having *a* job is enough to get your foot in the door in an industry. From there, 6 months of working hard, outperforming and networking will dwarf any effect of choosing A over B.

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  • I would also add "What, if anything, is the background check going to reveal? And how much will Company B care about it?" – Kevin Dec 16 '15 at 20:40
  • Would it really be burning bridges if I'm starting out so early? I'm a graduate with no job experience. No one knows who I am and it would be before I even begin working. Job A might remember me poorly, but Job B would be none the wiser. I'm not even really sure what bridges I'd be burning - I don't think I've built any yet! – kirk Dec 17 '15 at 3:16
  • I'm not loyal to the company yet. Right now they've offered me a job and some security, but my preferred job is elsewhere. I don't see why "quitting" before I begin, before they pay me, before there is any harm done, sets them back much. – kirk Dec 17 '15 at 3:18
  • "Job B would be none the wiser" - maybe, maybe not. In a lot of indsutries, people know a lot more of their peers in other companies than you might expect. And if you piss the hiring manager at job A off by screwing up their hiring process, there's a very real chance they'll do a quick linkedin search, find your new company and give somebody over there a heads up. – Kaz Dec 17 '15 at 9:06
  • "Before there is any harm done" - so long as you haven't accepted a job offer, then there's no harm done. As soon as you do, a whole process gets set in motion, their job search starts winding down, they start onboarding, HR gets notified etc. And sure, maybe it's not much in the grand scheme of things, but it's going to cause a big headache for whoever's in charge of hiring for this position. – Kaz Dec 17 '15 at 9:08

Finding your first "real" job is the hardest part. Take job A if job B isn't 100% for sure.

If job B never pans out you have job A. And having that first thing on your resume is huge.

If job B works, take it. Company A may never hire you again but that is far less of an issue than having no job with no experience.

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Tell Company A that you are evaluating multiple opportunities (this is 100% expected with college seniors).

Ask Company A when they need a response to their offer (they may want to pursue other candidates as well).

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Always keep your own goals and interests in mind

Companies certainly will, and they won't care if achieving their goals hurts you in any way.

You have zero guarantees that this second interview will work out, so proceed with accepting Company A's offer.

If a later date this second company offers you that dream job then you can quit and move on to the company that's offering you better opportunities.

Would it be a morally ambiguous thing to do? Certainly. But you can bet that if it were in their interest to fire you tomorrow they wouldn't blink an eye in doing so.

At that point in time remain very polite, thank them the opportunities they've offered you, and move on. I don't even think 2 week's notice will be necessary since you'll still be so new at your job that you barely know what's going on anyway.

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