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I have an offer from a decent company (A) for senior level position, and I have been holding on to the offer for a week now. However, I am also in the process of talking to another company (B), which is super top tier and I think I have less than 30% of getting in. The interview process with company B can take another 3-5 weeks. I would definitely lose my offer from company A if I wait for another 3 weeks, and I don't want to lose it.

Company B does not need to counter offer because they won't know about A.

So is it a good idea to just simply accept the offer from company A, and continue to engage with company B? If I do make it to B, then I will simply decline or resign from A and join B. If I don't make it to B, then nothing happens.

Is there any problem with my approach?

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    Your title says "right after" but your description implies you are going to potentially accept an offer, then back out 3-5 weeks later. If a prospective employee did that to you, how bad would it be from your perspective?
    – Brandin
    Mar 22, 2017 at 9:30
  • I am in a industry (tech) where I see people getting laid off two weeks into their new job (with severance ofc); a scheduled third round onsite interview can be cancelled, etc.
    – bub
    Mar 22, 2017 at 17:42
  • @JoeStrazzere But I am curious what can they do to possibly ruin my reputation? It is a big city and I am not sure a blacklist can be viable among the industry.
    – bub
    Mar 22, 2017 at 17:44
  • The other angle is that this is "at will employment", and early resignation, ranging from 1 to 3 month, is not at all uncommon in the industry.
    – bub
    Mar 22, 2017 at 22:58
  • @Brandin I changed my title, thank you for the clarification
    – bub
    Mar 22, 2017 at 23:08

4 Answers 4

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It would be a good idea to accept the offer from Company A and continue to engage with company B because position with Company B is not guaranteed. You also need to make sure you are employed.

There is not a problem with your approach. If you accept Company B's offer, be as gracious as possible with Company A when resigning and give them a chance to see if they are willing to match what Company B offers. You don't want to burn any bridges at Company A since you never know if you cross paths with them in the future. If you don't get an offer from Company B, you still will have your job at Company A and no harm is done.

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  • There will be no counter offer. If I get an offer from B (30% chance, super top tier), then everyone would agree that I should leave A and take B. My concern is the legal ramification, blow back, reputation damage, etc, I might face because of my action.
    – bub
    Mar 22, 2017 at 23:06
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My answer might be a little different to what people would usually do, but I personally try not to do to others what I don't want others to do to me. What I mean with this is that I wouldn't like to receive an offer from a company, accept it, and then once I quit my job, realise that the company is withdrawing the offer.

You should always seek for the best option for you, yes, but I also believe in an ethical behaviour, both in my personal and professional life. If you accept the offer from company A, stick to it, even though you will lose the possibility of working for company B. In economics, this situation is usually called opportunity cost. If you want to wait for company B, tell company A that you need a couple of weeks to think about it. Be aware that you'll most likely lose the offer from company A, as you said.

Accepting an offer from a company and then rejecting it weeks later is burning bridges, so if you don't want to burn bridges, accept it and stick to it, ask for more time, or reject it.

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    You are wasting company A's time. When you commit, they prepare everything for your arrival, and then you let them hang. Of course, legally, probably you can do it as long as you didn't sign. Let's put it this way: were I A's hirer, and something like that would happen to me, I would put the mark of "unreliable" on that person's file. Of course, if B is such high-tier that you will never want to leave them, you may not care (but they might lay off people at some point!). Mar 22, 2017 at 10:28
  • @CaptainEmacs, I'm not following your comment. Isn't this pretty much what I've said in my answer?
    – Charmander
    Mar 22, 2017 at 10:34
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    I was supporting your answer. Sorry if that wasn't clear. If you do not like the comment, I will remove it. Mar 22, 2017 at 10:54
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    I am not sure I agree to a company as a person. I mean any company has no problem laying you off, where an employee does not any power in that situation.
    – bub
    Mar 22, 2017 at 13:16
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    @bub, definitely a company is not a person. However, people work in companies. At the same time, the fact that other people/companies might not have ethical behaviours, that doesn't mean you should imitate them. At least that's my point of view.
    – Charmander
    Mar 22, 2017 at 13:58
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There may be an ethical problem. You are effectively committing to company A, and ending their recruitment process, without actually being committed to them. Imagine if they did the same to you i.e. offered you the job then five weeks later told you it fell through, sorry.

What if you don't get the job with company B but that company A finds out about your efforts? How would this affect your working relationship with people at company A, for example your manager, the boss, your colleagues?

Or if you get the job with B and leave A in the lurch, can it do damage to your industry reputation? Company A may be totally understanding regarding your decision and respect your right to better yourself or they may be bitter at the wasted time and lost face at having announced within the company the hiring of an amazing new person i.e. you. They might need to start the recruitment process all over again if the other candidates already took other jobs.

In terms of legality, I don't think accepting an offer binds you in any way but you might want to make sure that's the case in the jurisdiction concerned.

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  • I get the point about commitment to A, and in an ideal world I would agree. However, if company A for some reason, found a better candidate after they hired you, they would not even blink once with the eyes before terminating your contract.
    – Repmat
    Mar 24, 2017 at 9:42
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If company A really care about getting a genuine and motivated employee, they can be convinced to give some extra time to the candidate.

Tell company B that you have an offer in hand from another employer but still want to pursue an opportunity from them. They may be able to speed up their evaluation or at least give you a timeline or some indication of your chances. Then, simply ask for a fixed and specific amount of time from Company A.

1-3 weeks is a perfectly reasonable amount of extra time for a valuable position which is hard to fill. Going too much further out than that is asking for a lot, it's hard to say where the "pain point" is because every job market is different. However, if Company A wants to play hardball and gives you a decision deadline that is too soon and non-negotiable, seriously reconsider whether you want to work with them.

One decision I greatly regret early in my career was being bullied into making a decision "by the end of the week" by an employer who threatened to rescind their offer. I had earlier interviewed with another very prestigious company who was taking significant time to extend an offer. I ended up taking the offer in hand, but I found out much later that the hiring manager at the prestigious company had been caught up in cutting bureaucratic red-tape to get me hired and had actually wanted to modify the job description and level to fit me. The position I took was a poor-fit, I should have pushed back and held out for the better company.

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