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I got an offer from a software development company. I have to serve a notice period of 60 days with my current employer, so they agreed to wait for me.

Now, about 30 days later, I have got an offer from a second company, which I believe is better for my career growth and satisfaction. They offer me paid meetups and conferences, and will let me contribute to open source projects during work hours. The first company is a startup, while the second one is a well reputed company with offices in more than 5 countries.

I cannot make a decision right away to accept the second company's offer. What is bugging me is that the first company already waited for a good 30 days for me.

I have to choose between what is ethical and what is good for me. How should I make this choice?

marked as duplicate by gnat, Mister Positive, David K, JasonJ, paparazzo Feb 23 '17 at 14:50

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  • What does your new contract say? – FiringSquadWitness Feb 23 '17 at 6:02
  • @FiringSquadWitness new contract says I can contribute to open source projects during work hours, offers me paid meet-ups and conferences etc... The new firm is a well reputed one with offices in more than 5 countries where the first one is a startup. – Tony Vincent Feb 23 '17 at 6:07
  • What would you do if another offer come along? – Ed Heal Feb 23 '17 at 6:12
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    The point being - if you throw away the first job and say you take the second. If a third comes along will you throw away the second? BTW - Not a good idea to ask for careers advice from total strangers – Ed Heal Feb 23 '17 at 6:31
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    @TonyVincent You would do well not to respond rudely to strangers who are offering you free advice and saying "you are hardly making any point" only because you don't see their point. – Masked Man Feb 23 '17 at 6:55
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Based on your comment, that you haven't signed any contract yet, technically you won't be violating anything if you reject Company A and went for Company B.

If you really feel that Company B would be best, then at least have the courtesy to inform and apologize to Company A:

Dear company A I would like to express my gratitude for accepting me. however, an opportunity arose that I feel is best for my career, and in turn I humbly ask for your forgiveness that I have to reject the offer. Please let me know if I may refer someone else I know who is as qualified as I

  • you had the courtesy of informing them, instead of suddenly disapeearing without a trace
  • you offered to help with the recruitment process to alleviate the damage
  • You have at least shown you are grateful and not some arrogant person who takes things for granted.

On Ethics, I understand that employers might find this answer unpopular, but if it does help your life in the long run, then I think even the recruitment, given that they are proper people, should feel happy for you and wish your luck. Although beware that if company B does fail.. I would not expect that you can turn back to Company A again. If company A does ask questions like what made you rethink your decision, graciously answer them as honest as you can. Data you provide might help improve their hiring capability as well

That aside, if they really want you to be a part of the team.. then why haven't they made you sign a contract earlier than date abcd? In my understanding employers encourage wanted applicants to already sign a contract as soon as possible to seal the deal and avoid scenarios like this. You wouldn't violate a contract now, would you?

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    " why haven't they made you sign a contract earlier than date abcd?" Because that thing which happens in US and some Western countries is not a universal work practice. In India, where the OP is from, you just accept the offer over email, and turn up on the date abcd to complete the paperwork. It is extremely rare for a reputed company to change their mind and repudiate their offer letter. You could say that the offer letter is the "de facto" contract, in a way. – Masked Man Feb 23 '17 at 7:26
  • I understand. Here in the phils though, after the final interview (which also includes the negotiations about salary), usually the contract is already handed for signing (so far in my experience) – Malcolm Salvador Feb 24 '17 at 1:20
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As a fun thought experiment, let us put the boot on the other foot. What do you think of the following situation?


"You received a job offer from a company, which asked you to join in 60 days. You accepted the offer and resigned from your current job. You were happy with this job offer, and decided not to expend any further effort to look for other offers. 30 days into your notice period, the company calls you and informs you that they would be withdrawing your offer as they have found a better candidate."


Be aware of the possible consequences of rejecting an accepted offer and then make a decision.

  • By reneging on an already accepted offer, you will burn bridges with this company. This is especially certain since you are doing it after a month.
  • Word does spread around the industry, which means you could be making a bad name for yourself among people who may have hired you in future.

    Some scenarios where such bad vibes spread around would be:

    • HR of the company A (whose offer you reject) has a spouse/sibling/friend working in company B.
    • Someone who interviewed you moves to company C1.
    • You attend a conference or other event where you meet someone from company A. Not only does this create an awkward moment for you, but depending on how bitter you left them, they might "show and tell" about the incident to someone from company D2.

You are potentially putting yourself on the blacklist of company B, C, D as well, besides company A.

You certainly have the freedom to choose between what is ethical and what is right for you, and it is a decision you alone should make. It is possible that none of the above scenarios will actually occur, and even if they do occur, it may not affect you. If you feel the short-term gratification is worth the long-term risks you would be taking, then go ahead.


1 I have experienced this first hand. My boss sent me a resume that he had shortlisted, and asked me to interview them the next week. I was "pleased" to see this candidate was a former co-worker at my previous company, who had "disappeared" abruptly. The interview did not happen.

2 I have been the "audience" of such "show and tell" events on a couple of occasions.

  • Thanks for the quick response,. I will give it some serious thought – Tony Vincent Feb 23 '17 at 6:54
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    Of the mentioned scenarios, I don't know about the 2nd and 3rd one.. maybe if you are a particularly popular candidate. Unlucky you if there's a spouse/sibling on both companies, but even then maybe those people have something better to do with their lives. Good points still though. – Malcolm Salvador Feb 23 '17 at 7:09
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    @Malky.Kid Those are less likely to occur, but they do happen. This is especially for senior level candidates. They are fewer in number and a lot more effort goes into their hiring, so someone like that burning bridges is likely to be "memorable" as against an entry level candidate. – Masked Man Feb 23 '17 at 7:22
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There's always the possibility to discuss it with the company you've agreed to join to see if they could possibly re-negotiate things to make the company you've already struck a deal with be more like the new offer you've gotten. This is more so applicable if it's about wage, job perks or other things that essentially just mean that the company spend a little more money on you. If it's a case of you've accepted a job working with microcontrollers in C and the better offer is to work with big data in Java, then there's not really much the company could do and they might understand that you found a job more in line with your passion.

EDIT: If you can find them one of two candidates to take your place that does leave a positive impression, in the development business it's hard to find good devs and recruitment companies charge a lot to help companies find them.

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no I haven't signed any contract yet but I sent a confirmation mail that I will be joining their team on this particular abcd date 

It is not clear if you have signed the offer letter.

In the case of having nothing signed, it seems risky to have resigned your position, but ok. As pointed out by Masked Man, the first new company could very well withdraw their offer [In the case of a signed offer letter, it might depend on the law of the country; maybe a small fee might be asked].

Now there is a confirmation email. It depends greatly on what you wrote. Let's say you wrote something like:

"I accept you offer letter, and I'm looking forward working with you starting the DD/MM/YYYY."

It might not be a contractual statement, it is still your word. In the future, some reserve could be used in the same situation.

"I'm willing to be working with you and I will let you know my availability as soon as I sign the contract."

In that way, when another offer comes along, you could still decide which way to go. As long as no contract is signed, nothing is decided.

Now you have given your word to a company. To refuse the position now would be detrimental to your reputation.

The impact of this action will depend of

  1. the influence of the company you refused (Say, you are looking in a niche market in which only 4 companies compete),
  2. the actual position you are applying for (position related with trust, public relationship, etc.)
  3. the openness of the market (imagine your market is shrinking in the next 5 years, did you shoot yourself in the foot, or is there many companies you can apply for?)

It's always a trade-off.

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Do what makes you happy, as long as you're not breaking any contracts.

Terms change, things change. Companies take back their verbal offers all the time, so can you. You don't owe anyone anything but your happiness towards yourself.

Sure, it can give a bad impression to back out of something you've said you'd do but it's more important to follow what you think is in your best interest and what simply feels right, as long as you're not breaking anything you've signed.

If you've not made a written contract then you simply have to say that things have changed and you're sorry but at this point you cannot accept the job, you don't have to give a reason. If you do have a written contract ask if you can break it, they'd probably rather do that anyway than hire you for a couple of months.

Being afraid of "someone might tell someone in the future" is simply an unhealthy way of living IMO. I'd rather burn a bridge or two than staying at a job I really don't want and you'll probably end up leaving sooner than later anyway.

Just be careful in the future with what you agree to so this doesn't become a common thing for you and you'll be absolutely fine.

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