Recently, I accepted an offer to work with a company in a foreign country. It will take about one month until my paperwork is done and I am officially working for this company.

As soon as I uploaded the signed offer, I sent another email along the lines of

I look forward to working with you and am optimistic. Say, what are some technologies I can learn/improve upon until I officially start working?

in an attempt to start with good graces.

The same day the co-director replied that technology X would be a good idea and asked me how long I thought it would take me to get experienced. I replied that I usually learn better if I had a real task in hand to which they sent me a task(which is not part of their official work, nor are they benefitting financially).

Until now, all is good. Then, the next day, the same co-director asked me how long it would take me to get it done with technology Y. He stated he wanted to get a feel so that he can better schedule project load and assignments.

Then, the day after that, he asked me to register with and download some tools they use, where yet, another task was awaiting me.

At this point I started to feel this was getting out of hand and sent a voice message, in a friendly tone, along the lines of

Hey, just so were on the same page, when I offered to improve/learn, I meant it as a solo venture on my own time and at my own leisure. Yet, I dont mind if you would like to start official work now and you can pay me either before I travel or when I arrive. In my point of view, even things like assesments or tool preparation is part of the official job and should be a normal cost to the company once an employee begins.

....sigh...in hindsight I realize what I said was completely DUMB! Even if it was said with a light tone, I completely obliterated any goodwill I started with this company. I was shortsighted and poorly worded my statement.

My question, is there any decent way to rectify this? What would have been the correct procedure in dealing with this situation.

On the one hand, nobody wants to work for free. On the other, I should have employed more diplomacy!

  • @JoeStrazzere, Im more or less taking it easy but am a bit stressed from the prospects of travel and preparations. Perhaps, as you said, I should just stay silent
    – Amco
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 12:21
  • @JoeStrazzere, ah, that might work assuming I pull the laugh part off flawlessly. I have slight qualms about apologizing and using my travel pressure as an excuse. On the one hand, it might be a sign of how I perform under pressure. On the other hand, would I want to work with those who cant empathize? Ultimately, I just need to take it easy and try to let it pass.
    – Amco
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 12:36
  • 1
    @Amco: Travel stress and specifically moving countries is one of the most stressful things you can do (along with divorce, changing job, having a baby, moving house and the death of an immediate family member). In fact you are doing two of the most stressful things - moving job and moving country - at once. I would hope they would cut you a little slack. I'd make an effort to at least partially answer ("X takes longer to develop in than Y but can't say how much longer" for example) their questions.
    – toadflakz
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 12:45

1 Answer 1


I suspect that this depends on the culture but I wouldn't stay silent.

I'd apologise. Say something like that you've realised the voice mail will have come across as a bit ridiculous. What you meant to say was that as you aren't officially employed yet and have a lot of planning and packing to do, you don't want the company to rely on you completing some work related tasks this month. Then thank them for the support and tasks and tell them you'll keep them informed about how you get on.

Everyone occasionally gets things wrong. If you own up and apologise everyone will move on. If you keep quiet people will start to wonder what sort of person they have employed.

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