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Four months ago I was job searching and I received an offer for a really great role which was a great opportunity, however my current company countered big time (promotion, raise, stock options). I ended up taking the counter offer because it was huge and the commute was much easier at my current job.

Fast forward four months and it's a disaster: things are even worse at my job and I totally regret not leaving.

Would I be crazy if I reached out to the company which gave me an offer in hopes that they would want to reconsider me?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Jane S Sep 29 '16 at 22:08
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    4 Months ago, when the other company made an offer to you, did you 1) accept their offer, then back out after you also accepted your current employers counter-offer? Or, 2) did you simply decline their offer? – Kevin Fegan Sep 30 '16 at 0:20
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    And this shows that lack of promotion, raise, and stock options were not the reasons you wanted to leave in the first place. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Sep 30 '16 at 7:23
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    Curious what sort of disaster it is. Don't want to open any wounds, but it could help to flesh out the Q&A by detailing the list of factors that you may not have focused on earlier. – Pysis Sep 30 '16 at 13:49
  • I accepted the offer then backed out (never signed anything though) the counter offer was significantly higher from a compensation standpoint relative to the offer the new company made me. I hate to say that money was a reason to stay, but when faced with significant increase it made it extremely difficult to turn down the counter offer. – Jason Sep 30 '16 at 18:22

10 Answers 10

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Would I be crazy if I reached out to the company which gave me an offer in hopes that they would want to reconsider me?

It's not crazy, just long odds - perhaps odds that suggest you should also start looking for a job at a new third company.

You already rejected their offer and stayed at your company because of the promotion, money and commute. The new company presumably knows that.

Now you have to somehow convince them that this time you really know what you want. And that this time you won't accept yet another counter-offer, or an offer from a third company and leave them after a short period. And you have to convince them that their offer is sufficient, even though it may be less in several factors than the counter-offer that you previously accepted.

Think this through carefully, and rehearse your answers, since the questions will almost certainly be asked. Make sure your answers are calm and convincing.

The new company might feel a bit hurt and rejected. They may have already filled the position. They may conclude that you are indecisive or don't really know what you want. Or they just may have a policy that precludes revisiting prior rejected offers.

The worst that can happen is that they say "No" and you move on. Probably worth a try as long as you keep your expectations low.

  • The new company was aware that the money my current company was better, but I didn't discuss the commute or the promotion with them when I ended up rejecting their offer. I will definitely think this through a lot before contacting them, but you are right the worst they can say is "no" at least I'll know and not be wondering what if once more. Thank you for your response! – Jason Sep 28 '16 at 20:21
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    @Nelson I've thought and thought and can't think what it might mean. I've known many companies so serious about hiring only top-quality people that vacancies stay open until a suitable person comes along, rather than just being filled by the best person to arrive by a particular date. – AakashM Sep 29 '16 at 7:46
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    @Nelson: Who says it's the same position? Maybe it's filled, a new position opened, and they might consider the OP for the new position since they already thought he was a good fit for the company. – Matthieu M. Sep 29 '16 at 8:15
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    @Jason - No, them saying no to you is actually not the worst thing that can happen. It depends on how big your professional community is. Everyone is into networking, and people love to gossip about things that are unusual or noteworthy. Rejecting an offer? Par for the course. Taking a counter-offer? Annoyingly noteworthy to a small extent, but not the worst thing in the world. Taking the counter-offer and then going back and knocking at their door with regrets? Depending on who knows who, that's something more likely to follow you. – PoloHoleSet Sep 29 '16 at 19:53
  • Why would the odds be long? It was their only opening and they've filled it? – user42272 Oct 1 '16 at 15:28
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This is why just about everyone will tell you to never accept a counter offer. It's like going back to an abusive spouse, it's all candy and roses... at first, then it's worse than ever.

Absolutely reach out to the previous company, but don't expect anything other than a cold shoulder. If they take you, great, if not, move on to another, better position and never ever accept another counter offer.

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    I would agree with that unless the only reasons you are leaving are because of wage and/or lack of advancement. – Chris E Sep 28 '16 at 20:01
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    @ChristopherEstep I was always told (and firmly believe) that once it gets to the point of a counter-offer, they're biding time to find your replacement. You're a flight risk, and they want someone who wants to be there. – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Sep 28 '16 at 20:05
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    I'm conflicted whether to give this a +1 or a -1, While this answer has value - it doesn't exactly answer the question. – dwjohnston Sep 28 '16 at 22:37
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    A company should never promote or give you a raise only because you got an offer. They should be doing that already. A counter-offer indicates a problem with how the company values you, so it is immediately a lose-lose situation, because it reveals underlying problems. – Nelson Sep 29 '16 at 2:26
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    @AndrewMattson Isn't that how a free market economy works, though? They offer you higher salary to encourage you to stay. It's why they offer raises/etc. in the first place - to keep you there. – Joe Sep 29 '16 at 18:45
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Would I be crazy if I reached out to the company which gave me an offer in hopes that they would want to reconsider me?

No. It is not crazy. You've met the folks there. They liked you. You liked them. It's certainly a place to start.

They very likely may reject you for various reasons, but you should at least give them the chance.

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    I'm often involved in the hiring process where I work. There are several people who we've made offers to who declined them. If any of them called me today and said they were interested in a job, I'd push to get them hired. There's a reason we made them an offer. I ran into one of them at a conference a few days ago and the first thing I asked him was whether he'd be interested in another offer. – David Schwartz Sep 29 '16 at 19:17
  • @DavidSchwartz, I generally agree. I have a couple exceptions where I made offers, they didn't accept and upon reflection I realized they were correct to not accept, and I was incorrect for making an offer. I have a better understanding of the role, company, and what a successful candidate demonstrates (or more often, what an unsuccessful candidate demonstrates). For example, my last company was a small, no-investors, organic growth company. I shouldn't make an offer to someone who wants a small, fast-paced, VC funded start-up. – Chris G Sep 29 '16 at 21:06
  • +1 to this. I don't see why the other answers insist on piling this guilt trip on about this. – user42272 Sep 29 '16 at 21:31
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    @DavidSchwartz I think you should post that as another answer. – Dan Henderson Sep 29 '16 at 21:51
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If you are SW developer, I encourage you to go and talk to that previous company ASAP

The fact you declined the offer doesn't mean you burned the bridge, it's business and part of the hiring process. Now, tech world needs a lot of developers and even when the position you applied before might be closed, they will probably need one more developer. Furthermore, if you excelled at the interview they might happily consider you for coming up projects.

One advice, be real honest when questioned about the previous hiring process and your current situation, that will ease tensions and make them feel you are trustful.

BTW, like you, I had an opportunity to jump to a big company but declined because I had to relocate and my company offered a counter. I was told by the big company to talk them if I wanted to apply again and I think that's probably because they now know my skills and know how hard is to get developers with such skills.

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    Using their offer to leverage more money from your former employer and rejecting their offer strictly on that basis absolutely burns your bridge with that company. You just showed them how little you value the opportunity and the company when you used them as leverage and went back to your old employer. At the very least, you've shown them horrible judgement and smarts by going back to the bad situation and thinking a little more money would somehow change things. That's very different than declining because you didn't want to relocate. – PoloHoleSet Sep 29 '16 at 15:00
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    @AndrewMattson None of which really matters if you're a capable developer and the company needs talent. Which many of them desperately do, at the moment. They're not going to nitpick over negotiation politics unless you're not really that good or they're not really that desperate. Otherwise it's a moot point. – aroth Sep 30 '16 at 6:45
  • Even though you have a desired skill, you may not be a desired employee if they don't think you'll stay. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Sep 30 '16 at 7:28
  • @aroth - unless you are a superstar with a unique skillset, they're not going to take on a potentially difficult employee, or one who does not appear to really value the opportunity to work at their company vs just money. If it was just "we need people, we don't care," then they'd never really have to go through the process of interviewing people, to start with. They could just give you an online aptitude test and make an offer. That's not what happened. – PoloHoleSet Sep 30 '16 at 14:01
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I don't see it as a problem, unless your current company finds out then you could be in hot water.

Having said that, don't expect them to be receptive. You didn't just accept an offer over them that didn't work out, you stayed with your company. Now you're looking to leave again. That's likely to be seen as not only disloyal but will make you appear to be indecisive. They wouldn't be wrong to believe that you may be the same way if you chose to work for them.

But as I said, it can't hurt. You may be received well. More than likely, you'll want to search anew and then leave that way.

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When you say "things are even worse at my job", I assume that doesn't mean you're unhappy with the raise and promotion you've got. Something else changed that made you reconsider, something you couldn't predict.

Therefore, if I were the recruiter at that company you turned down, I wouldn't necessarily consider you indecisive and unreliable. Sure, you'd have to explain those new reasons to me, and they'd better be good reasons and not something like "I thought 10% raise would do it but it didn't". But if you convince them they may consider hire you after all.

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Never hurts to reach out. I'm sure they will understand that you received a compelling counter.

I rejected an offer once (nicely, it just wasn't financially competitive) I kept in touch with everyone and when one of the people involved started his own company I ended up going to work for him (with a much better offer). Never hurts to reach back out to the hiring manager. The role is probably filled, but you won't know if they have something else they have going on unless you ask.

I find that when I can remove the emotional anxiety of acceptance and rejection from these situations and think of the situation as searching for a mutually compelling match, questions like this start to melt away.

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At my current gig, we would not reject out of hand a candidate who previously rejected us. Sometimes the timing is not right. Sometimes things happen. We'd want an explanation, of course. The position might have been filled, however, and the job thus unavailable.

This is where I'd look at the resume and weigh more heavily the number of job changes.

So call your contact and talk to them informally. Do you think they'll remember you?

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I would encourage you to game this out: if you went back to the other company, what could happen? I think the alternatives are

  • they could decline to move forward. I don't think you have lost anything in this case except a tiny amount of time.
  • they could repeat the original offer, or even a better one. This is what you are hoping for.
  • they could make a less attractive offer. Then you would have to accept or decline.

It looks to me like all the possible alternatives are better, or no worse, than not asking them, but you can judge for yourself.

One piece of advice: never, ever say anything remotely like "it's a disaster" or "things are even worse". Just say, "I regret not taking your offer. I was hoping that my role would evolve to be more suitable to me, but instead, the company is changing is a direction I don't wish to be a part of." It's always "a mismatch" between what the employer offers and what you need -- even if the underlying truth is, what you need is a job that does not suck and your employer is offering is a job that sucks hard.

As for whether you will be successful. I can remember an applicant who declined our offer in 2007 and who I would hire right now (she went to Yahoo! of all places). I also remember another from two years ago who dicked us around for a month, clearly waiting on another company he liked better than mine. I was on the point of withdrawing the offer, when (I guess) he took a competing offer. I hope, unlikely though it sounds, he does call me looking for a job, so I can laugh into the phone until he hangs up.

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It depends of chiefs on the old place. If they are smart and do business they will take you back. Such employees which return back are much loyal then average. Good rule for employer: let your employee feel difference and make a choice, don't make your employee feel coursed.

protected by Mister Positive Dec 27 '17 at 17:01

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