I was unemployed for a few months and during that time I interviewed with lots of companies.

One of them was very quick and offered me a job very fast. They was not my favorite company and I thought that others might give me other offers; so I asked for a deadline extension to accept their offer, which they refused. Having had to pay the bills, I signed with them starting the job pretty quick.

Now, I'm in the second week of the job and got another offer from one of the companies that I interviewed before. Almost everything is better with this new offer! The job, the salary, the company, ...

Should I leave my current job for the other? Or this is both unprofessional and unethical?

  • 6
    You might want to look at this article, which describes a very similar situation. Jan 4, 2013 at 15:33
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    You should really have just asked will there be any lasting repercussions of leaving the first job since that is really all that matters. If you are going to be unhappy and not perform well because of it the company is better off if you leave than if yous stay. Jan 4, 2013 at 15:55
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    @Chad Agreed. I seriously think that I will be depressed not leaving my current job, knowing that I had a much better opportunity. Jan 4, 2013 at 16:15
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    @enderland - I know you've already answered, to expand on your comment, but the black-and-whiteness of the comment here has me surprised. I think a large part of this is the company's own making. I would love to hear more of your thoughts in chat.
    – Nicole
    Jan 5, 2013 at 21:15

9 Answers 9


Yes, you should leave. Accept the new offer, give the usual notice, and go.

That's business. They made you an offer, you worked for them for a while, a better offer came along, and that's it. If your current employer really cared about you staying, they would be paying you above market and the other offer wouldn't be so attractive.

In the future, do not mention your current position on your resume. Just pretend you were unemployed until you started the new position. Your resume is an advertisement for you. There's no benefit to you in listing a position you left after a week.

  • 1
    From the OP's question, we don't know if the current employer is paying below, at, or above market. That said, I agree with the answer.
    – GreenMatt
    Jan 4, 2013 at 19:40
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    He's paying below the current market value of the OP, since another firm is offering more. Jan 6, 2013 at 3:50
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    @TemplateRex: Everyone understands that the resume is a form of advertising. The candidate lists experience that he or she believes will make them attractive to employers. It must be truthful, but need not be comprehensive. If one is applying for a professional position, it's silly to mention that you worked one summer at McBurger's. Jul 28, 2014 at 19:19
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    @Aleksander well let's put it like this. When I am hiring I want to hire someone who I think will stick around for at least two years, otherwise I have zero interest in hiring you. (This is generally the thought with most permanent positions) Showing you took a job then bailed in only a few weeks is a HUGE red flag, you're better off just omitting them. Never put anything negative in your resume (unless you're trying NOT to get hired) a quick turn over is a negative. Oct 9, 2014 at 18:44
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    @Arslan: it's cool as long as you keep getting new jobs! If employers wanted to prevent this, they would just pay entry-level people more. Remember, you don't have to put every job on your CV. Nov 7, 2014 at 17:28

It is business. Companies are free to do the exact same thing to its employees in order for it to remain competitive and relevant in the market. Offers have been extended, then revoked or delayed to meet business demands. People have been hired then dismissed because the the decision to reorg finally came through.

It happens infrequently but it happens. You cannot pass up something that is beneficial for you and your family for some weird sense of loyalty to a company you just joined. It does not come for free: you will burn a few bridges, but it sounds like the benefits exceed that cost.

Companies that have their crap together plan for this risk. Hiring from the outside is risky and it includes that the new hire may not work out for many reasons, including this one.

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    "plan for this risk" -- and the fact the employer refused the acceptance deadline extension means they had ample information on which to expect this to happen. Jul 12, 2014 at 18:41

It is not unprofessional or unethical to take an alternative job offer so soon after starting your current job. It is unlikely you were the only person who your current company interviewed, so they will have had a back up offer ready for their next choice.
Just make sure you take a look at your contract prior to resigning. You will most likely have to give a certain amount of notice. For example, if you are in a probation period you may need to give 1 weeks notice for each month or part of a month during probation. If you are able to offer them a slightly longer notice period to enable them to employ your replacement, that may lessen the blow.

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    so they will have had a back up offer ready for their next choice. What? You took the job offer. You started working for them. Why would they have not sent out some sort of rejection letters?
    – enderland
    Jan 4, 2013 at 14:06
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    I'm not saying they won't have sent out rejection letters, but they will have also discussed offers to multiple people. Even if they have sent a rejection, they could still contact the person to offer them the job.
    – SheyMouse
    Jan 4, 2013 at 14:09
  • They are hiring very fast so they might not have a backup, but they are (and were) actively looking for other people. Jan 4, 2013 at 14:58
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    @SheyMouse This is an old, but bumped post, but I just wanted to say this is exactly how I got my first job and through the exact same scenario. The other guy was way over qualified for the position but took it out of desperation. He rapidly got another offer, so they called me. I don't think anybody had any hard feelings over it - least of all me!
    – Dan
    Jul 25, 2013 at 9:18

Both professional and professional ethics are in the context of work, and absent specific terms in your contract, this is fundamentally a personal decision.

Both you and your employer can reasonably expect your employment to continue only so long as it is both mutually beneficial and satisfactory -- whether that is 5 seconds or 5 decades depends entirely on circumstances.

Now, if you had taken the job after accepting a position with another company that started 2 weeks later and you never planned to continue with the job that started earlier, and did not inform them of that fact, that would have been both unprofessional and unethical.

But that is not the described scenario, in this case you are simply evaluating which position is better for you personally, and then acting on that.

Consider a similar scenario, where instead of you receiving an offer, it is instead your spouse, recieveing a signicantly career enhancing position that was hoped for but not expected. Attempting to stick with your undesired job while rejecting a dream job for your spouse is not going to make your personal life better. And that is why you are working -- to make your personal life better than it would be otherwise.


I think they forced your hand by not giving you more time to think it over so in that sense, I wouldn't feel bad about leaving but I'd probably leave a 2 week job off of the CV for the future.

You might run into the same people again but in all honesty, the chance of them remembering you is pretty slim.

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    "the chance of them remembering you is pretty slim" -> I don't know about that, I think a person who quits after two weeks gets put on a "never hire this person again" list.
    – Adam V
    Jan 4, 2013 at 15:09
  • I guess it depends on the individual company, culture and organisation - absolutely it might affect your ability to be hired by that company again - I'm just not convinced it will hurt your future opportunities at other places.
    – Michael
    Jan 4, 2013 at 15:28
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    I agree with that to an extent; it's just that there are possibilities like "your manager moves to another company where you apply in the future, and tells them about the missing job" and "your manager tells some friends at other companies about 'the guy who quit after two weeks'". As time goes by, it'll be less of a problem (especially if you stay at the next place for multiple years), but if you're applying for job again much sooner than that, I wouldn't be surprised if the story had gotten around a bit and made the job search more difficult.
    – Adam V
    Jan 4, 2013 at 15:33
  • I agree with Adam. Depending on the size of your market, this definitely could have broader effects. Not that you can't overcome them, but it's good to be aware of it.
    – Nicole
    Jan 5, 2013 at 21:21
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    Re: "the guy who quit after two weeks". While it doesn't happen often, I've seen it happen often enough that it is true that nobody remembers "the guy who quits after two weeks". Heck, I don't even remember some people that I worked with for a few years. There are all kinds of valid reasons for leaving so soon : they realized that the job wasn't what they expected, they realized they didn't have the skills necessary, the commute was more than bargained for or a better opportunity arose. Leaving for any of those reasons is not unprofessional in the slightest.
    – Dunk
    Jan 9, 2013 at 0:25

There is (I believe) a difference in the ethics and professionalism of what you are seeking to do:

Professionalism: fundamentally it is completely unprofessional to renege on a contract almost immediately after signing it. There could be implications of this in terms of burning bridges and possibly developing something of a reputation (depending on how incestuous / insular your industry is). There is also the fact that you did not ask the other employers you applied to whether or not there might be an offer from them, which is always good to do once you have received an offer from someone else as a) it shows your employability and can be leveraged and b) ensures that you don’t have any ‘grass is greener’ moments after you have accepted an offer from another employer.

Ethics: there are quite a few unknowns in your question, such as how many people were recruited when you were (was it just you, or a team of 20?), how senior you are within the company, and how long it took them to fill the vacancy. The more it cost your employer to hire someone for your role, the more you will be impacting them (and therefore the more unethical it becomes). You can minimise the impact to your current employer by suggesting you work a longer period than contractually necessary / as long as you can to help replace you.

If the new job is better all-round in the long term, and assuming you wouldn’t be breaking your contract in terms of notice period, I believe you might be best to switch to the new company. You might regret being ‘stuck’ where you currently are, and end up moving soon regardless – but either way I would be very careful to not burn any bridges where you are and the be sure that the gains from moving would be more than a short term placebo, otherwise you could be seen as something of a job-hopper (which no one will want to recruit in the future!)

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    Leaving so soon doesn't say much positive about the employee, but if doing so doesn't violate the terms of a contract (if there is one at all), it isn't reneging. Look at it from the other side: if the company found a new hire unsuitable or found itself unable or unwilling to pay him, do you think they'd hesitate to let him go if the legal department said it was okay?
    – Blrfl
    Jan 4, 2013 at 11:52
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    While I agree with many of the general comments about ethics and professionalism, I think the important thing here is that the OP asked for a delay and they refused. I believe that means they should accept the consequences of their refusal, which is that the OP should take a better job when it is offered. Jan 4, 2013 at 15:15
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    @DJClayworth then the professional response is, "Sorry, but I am waiting for other offers and must decline as a result." The professional response is NEVER "I'll start working and waste company time/resources and then when a better offer comes along 1 week later I'll jump ship immediately." Regardless of what the company did, this is simply not professional.
    – enderland
    Jan 4, 2013 at 15:27
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    I think most of the resources lost in this one week hiring can still be recouped (make offer to other candidates that were just interviews, already paid to post job, etc). Most people on their first job don't really earn their pay the first 6 months. I'd rather they leave after one week and get it over with.
    – user8365
    Jan 4, 2013 at 18:58
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    @enderland "Sorry, but I am waiting for other offers and must decline as a result." The OP said he needs a job to provide for himself; he was never certain another offer WOULD come anytime soon. Given that companies will drop you without a second thought if its in their best interest, I fail to see how an employee acting in THEIR own best interest would be considered unprofessional. Enough with this double standard; employers created this environment of zero-loyalty, now they get to live with it.
    – Andy
    Jan 6, 2013 at 21:53

While I would accept there are questions with regard to ethics and professionalism, how do you think the company you are currently employed at would act if a major source of income suddenly stopped and they had to lay people off.

It's business at the end of the day, which while they may act ethically and professionally to you as an employee while you work there, that will only last as long as they are capable of paying you.

When they refused a deadline extension they opened up the possibility of this happening, I assume you told them why you asked and if you didn't I would imagine it would have been reasonably obvious to them.


Should I leave my current job for the other? Or is this unprofessional?

This absolutely is not professional.

A professional:

  1. Evaluates a job offer
  2. Determines if it is a position they want
  3. Makes an informed decision about a job
  4. Commits to that decision

A professional does not take a job they don't want because the company won't give them an extension on the job offer and they have no other options and then change their mind 1 week after starting because another company made them a better offer they couldn't wait 1 week to evaluate.

There is a (reasonable) assumption when an employee accepts a job offer and starts working that they will be around for more than 2 weeks before accepting another job offer.

Or is this unethical?

This is going to be a personal decision as to whether you think it's ethical. By the definition of ethical I don't think there is any way you can justify this decision as being ethical. But in terms of "is this something I would be ok with?" it is a completely personal question.

edit: there seems to be a lot of confusion regarding "professionalism" and "what feels right" in this situation.

Ask yourself:

  • If I was giving advice to someone, would I ever recommend, "You should accept a job offer you do not want while waiting for other offers, actually begin working for that company, and then if you hear back from your preferred employer, quit immediately and take the preferred offer?"

If you did give it, you would likely never want it associated with your professional image. If an interviewer asked about whether that was professional advice, what would you respond? Would you tell an interviewer "yeah sure that sounds like great professional advice!" Of course not. Why? Because it is not considered professional to do this sort of thing.

Now does it feel right in this circumstance to "get back" at a company who wouldn't extend a deadline to someone who was in an unfortunate personal situation? Sure. But that does not affect how professional the response was.

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    But you did have a choice. You had no obligation to the employer or anyone else to accept the job. It is true that you were out of work and probably needed the paycheck, but their refusal to grant you an extension on the decision did not obligate you to accept the offer. They knew you felt that you were in a bind (needing the job), and they used that to make you feel pressured to say yes.
    – alroc
    Jan 4, 2013 at 15:06
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    Akbar has it exactly right. It was unprofessional of the company to rush him into a decision when he needed more time. The problem is entirely of their own making, and they can live with the consequences. Jan 4, 2013 at 15:17
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    The question isn't whether it was professional of the company to put him in this situation (it wasn't) but whether it's professional of him to quit after two weeks (it isn't). Just because the company's behavior was wrong does not make his response any less unprofessional.
    – Adam V
    Jan 4, 2013 at 15:21
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    If you hire someone knowing there were things they requested that you denied (salary, holidays, time to decide, etc.), haven't you knowingly increased the likelyhood they will leave for a better job? Do the wise thing and pull the offer instead of relying on the kindness of strangers even if they are professional.
    – user8365
    Jan 4, 2013 at 19:01
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    @enderland: You have created a strawman argument. It was not accepting a job he didn't want, it was accepting a job that wasn't his first choice. There's a big difference. But even if there wasn't, the bottom line is that he needed a job, he accepted the offer, started working and realized that the grass is greener elsewhere. There is nothing unprofessional in the slightest way.
    – Dunk
    Jan 9, 2013 at 0:32

Yes you should leave. Make sure your contractual obligations are filled. Sit down with your boss. Explain that this is why you wanted the extension and offer to do what you can to smooth the transition. Explain to your new employer that you are in the process of wrapping up some temporary things and explain what you need in terms of time to get started.

In this case, I see no professionalism or ethical issues involved. You were in a vulnerable situation. You needed money. You tried to negotiate, and your current employer refused. It's unreasonable to expect that you bear the total costs of such. At the same time, being professional means also looking after the interests of your current employer to the extent that this is feasible and doing what you reasonably can to mitigate the impacts for them.

So give notice. Work on softening the impact. Sit down with your boss and talk about what you can do to soften that impact in the time you have left.

I don't think the question, really, is whether to accept the other offer but how to and how t make the transition in a reasonably responsible way.

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