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My situation is this:

I had a company recruiter (company A) apply "pressure tactics" on me to accept the offer soon. I had benefits questions that took some time to clear, the job also requires me to move out of state, which I am ok with. With no other firm offer in hand, I gave my verbal acceptance and currently am awaiting the background check outcome (takes a week or so). The letter has:

"... is contingent upon successful drug and background check. We reserve the right to end our employment agreement with you should the results not be successful. We will inform you, once this condition is removed..."

This still looks conditional to me. I could have asked for more time, but I could not ask for a month more and a week more would not seem to make much difference, I thought. However, in the meantime, I had an interview with Company B, which is local and I have requested an early decision.

My question is if Company B makes a competitive offer, then how do I turn down Company A? I haven't yet signed any contract with them since my background check results are pending and in that sense the offer is still conditional. Perhaps it is ethics, but part of me is thinking that Company A is still reserving the right to decline pending outcome of tests/results.

Please advise what the best course is in handling the situation.

New Info: I just got a request from the background check Company A asking for 6 years of W2 to verify employment. I thought they had means to do that instead of digging through my W2? Is this normal?

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    Can you explain about the "pressure tactics" that were applied? – tomjedrz May 9 '16 at 7:22
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They haven't yet hired you. You aren't yet hired by them. You are completely free to say "Sorry, while you were doing that I got a better offer." They won't like it but they will accept it as a cost of doing business.

You can of course also say "Meanwhile, I got an offer at $xxxxx, can you match/beat that."

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    I would not attempt to renegotiate Company A based on Company B's offer once you have agreed to terms. That will be interpreted as acting in bad faith, and will most likely lead to their offer being revoked. – tomjedrz May 9 '16 at 7:21
  • @tomjedrz What do you mean? If company B has a better offer and you ask Company A for an even better offer than company B. Why should you care if company A revokes their offer? you were going to decline it anyway. If you mean that company B would revoke their offer, there is no reason why you should mention company B's name to company A anyway so there is no way for company B to find out. Nor should they care. – Migz May 9 '16 at 8:28
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    Basically, you need to let them ask about the terms and let them bring up any improved offer. Saying "I got a better offer and am accepting it" is very different than "I will accept your offer if you raise it." You want to avoid the appearance of continuing the negotiations until they open them. – tomjedrz May 10 '16 at 0:39
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Rest assured that your course of action is perfectly acceptable and ethical. They gave you a tentative offer, which you accepted in principle. When you receive a firm offer, you will accept it or decline it. Prior to receiving the firm offer, you can decline. Some would say that you can also continue to negotiate; I would not agree with that other than on terms not already discussed.

The background check delay is frequent. Typically, companies don't do the background check prior to having an agreement because of the expense and hassle. There are also legal constraints on background checks in some jurisdictions which don't allow them until an offer has been made.

One question is whether you should make sure Company A is clear that you do not consider the offer binding until it is complete and without conditions. If you had not done that, you may want to do so, perhaps when following up. Say something like:

I look forward to receiving the final offer without conditions so that I can make the final decision.

Some companies will present a written offer with contingencies on things such as a background check. I would not sign such a document.

Back to the question ... the best course.

Scenario #1 - Company B makes you a more attractive offer than Company A.

If the offer from Company B is ready to go, this is straight-forward. Accept the offer from Company B. Call Company A and tell them that you no longer wish to be considered for the position. If they ask why, tell them that you received another offer and chose to accept that one.

At that point, if they do bring up the earlier agreement on terms, you politely note that there was no firm offer presented.

Scenario #2 - Company A finalizes their offer and you want to wait before accepting because you think Company B will make a better offer.

This is awkward and tricky. Most likely, you are going to have to accept or reject Company A before you hear from Company B.

Note: I would not use the Company B offer as leverage to get better terms from Company A. That WOULD be breaking the agreement. If you decline and they improve the offer on their own, that's a different situation.

  • I don't understand the note at the end. Negotiating based on a better offer seems entirely legitimate to me before you have signed a formal contract. If I were company A, I would want to know about the better offer, and have the chance to increase my offer if I felt it appropriate. Of course don't do this unless you are really willing to take the job with company B. – user45590 May 9 '16 at 9:22
  • @dan111: Of course don't do this unless you are really willing to take the job with "company B". I think you meant Company A. – user50257 May 19 '16 at 20:51

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