Responding to Competing Employment Offers

      A skilled woodworker accepts a new job, then gets a better offer from another employer. How should he communicate with both prospective employers? January 7, 2007

I recently accepted an offer with a company and I was scheduled to start working Monday. The other day I was offered a position which included a significant difference in salary which I want to take. Any advice on how to go back to the initial company and tell them I will not be working for them? This is difficult for me because I have been in the same job for 25 years and have no experience with these matters.

Forum Responses
(Business Forum)
From contributor A:
Your first choice should be to stick to your word and go to work Monday, see how it goes, and if it goes well but the money is a no-go, then tell them you have another offer and in fairness you would like to give them a chance to respond. If the difference is too great, then give them 2 weeks notice (which they might reject and send you on your way). Otherwise, if you have to go to the second job, tell them quickly and tactfully, thanking them for the offer and apologizing for the inconvenience.

From contributor B:
I think if you are honest and up-front with your new boss, he will understand. If he doesn't, then he may not be the kind of person you want to work for anyway. The thing is that you want to be able to come back to him in case the second offer doesn't work out.

From contributor C:
This is easy. Call the lower paying shop immediately and tell them you have reconsidered your decision to accept their job offer. Apologize for the short notice and any inconvenience you may have caused them. This happens all the time in business. Don't feel bad for a second. Life is too short to be under paid. Earn what you deserve.

From contributor D:
Take the second job and let the first guy know immediately. Going in to the first job with the intent of ratcheting up the pay scale under the threat of quitting right away would be burning a bridge you may need later.

From contributor E:
No matter how you go at this, the first business owner is not going to be happy. I think Contributors B and C made good points that you need to contact the first business owner and let him know what you're doing. You need to make the best wage you can but make sure the job satisfaction will be there, if you can. I left a job a while back teaching accounting for the Air Force. The money was real good but I was miserable. Now the migraines are gone, my blood pressure is back to normal and the bills are still getting paid, plus I don't have any new second lieutenants to deal with. One other thing; I'd also make sure the second job is a done deal before I pulled the plug on the first. Good luck.

From contributor F:
From the reverse perspective, if I was the first boss and you came to me and said you had a significantly better offer you had to consider, I would understand completely. I wouldn't be mad or unhappy; in fact, it would be expected. If your skills and experience made me want to hire you, I would automatically presume others would want to as well. If another shop had more money to spend on you than I did, cool. That's what it's about, and no employer has the right to expect a prospective employee to sacrifice his family's well being for the sake of a company they haven't even started working for yet. Go get the money, and thank the first boss for all his hard work and consideration and beg to be reconsidered in the future if something comes up.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the advice. I met with the first company yesterday and explained my situation. They understood and asked me to hold off until they could discuss options. They called me today and presented me with some options that would work me up to the same pay in a few months but nothing so solid that I was 100 percent it would come through. Therefore, I will start with the other company on Monday. I believe at this company I may have better opportunities to realize my full potential in this new chapter in my life. Nothing in life is certain. However I will do my best and work hard and hopefully my employer will appreciate my efforts and take care of me.

From contributor G:
It sounds like you handled it well. You have to look out for yourself and your family first. Good luck in your future. I'm sure you will do well wherever you end up permanently.

From contributor H:
I know your dilemma well. Go for the money. No company cares more about you or your family than you do. Be polite but remember thatís why they call it work. Go for the pay check.

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