changed mind after accepting offer

A reader writes:

In August 2008, I relocated for work and a boyfriend (we don’t live together through) and ended up with a job in an industry in which I’ve been doing the same type of work for 10 years. The company and environment ended up being horrible and thus my job search began. I was so burnt out, in fact, that I felt the need to get out of the dept. and job altogether (it is a high stress position). After months and months of applying and trying to network, 2 opportunities finally came up.

Job A was with my former employer who I was with for 5 years before I moved and has an office in my new city. The manager contacted me about an opening they finally had, I interviewed and they made me an offer. Same type of job/dept, better environment, great pay, great account, closer to home, etc.

Job B is for another company in my old city that an old friend/co-worker has been with for 6 years. Another great opportunity. Even though it’s the same industry, I’d be getting out of the job/dept., learn something new, less stress, less pay, but great benefits. However, Job B is in the city I was in previously before I relocated.

I accepted the offer with Job B and turned down the offer for Job A.

However, now, being faced with moving again and especially leaving my boyfriend and having a long distance relationship, I am worried I made the wrong choice. I am already thinking about moving back down here and I haven’t even left! I am in a panic and thinking of going back to Company A to ask if that job is sill available (although the manager told me she had another great candidate lined up). I am afraid, however, I will burn bridges all over the place and will look unstable and indecisive. Please help!

Well, yes, you may look indecisive, since you, um, were being indecisive.

But that’s not the end of the world.

You need to decide definitively whether or not you want this job you accepted (and all that comes with it, like the move). And you need to decide quickly. If you don’t want it, you need to tell them as soon as possible.

Now, I always tell people not to renege on job offers you’ve accepted. It screws over the company — they’ve already turned loose their other candidates, possibly invested money in preparing for you, and may need to start the hiring process all over again with those back-up candidates gone. (Although if it’s a big company, I’m way more willing to let someone get away with this than if it’s a small one, where the damage is larger.)

But it also screws over the company if you accept a job you don’t really want, because your heart won’t be in it and you’re likely not to stay long.

So if you’re realizing you made a mistake here, tell them. Apologize profusely. You’ll probably burn your bridges with them, but that’s better than being in a job and city you don’t want to be in.

And call Job A and see if it’s still available. Say you’re reconsidering your decision, realize that you want to stay in the city where you are, and would love to return to that company. They may say it’s still available; they may not. But I would consider Job A independently of Job B. In other words, if you decide you don’t want Job B, then you’re back to job-searching, period — hopefully you can still get Job A, but if not, don’t settle for a job you don’t want just because it’s been offered to you. Good luck!

{ 5 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    I face a similar situation ; took job offer A; then job offer B came along for my dream job. I want to treat company A respectfully, but offer B is much better for my career and family. I used to think that people who later rescinded their accepteances of an offer were not honorable; now that I am one of them i question this. Any advice?

  2. Charles*

    Yes, the OP had burned bridges and more than inconvenienced others.

    However, everyone has to do what is ultimately best for them.

    So, the best part of this good advice is the "apologize profusely" part.

  3. wrong decision Maybe...*

    I have been in the job market for about a year finally a job came threw that was 2o miles away from home and paying me less than i wanted but i was so excited that they were giving me a chance i took their offer .. they hired me on the spot… Well the next day another job called only about 5 miles from home same hours as the other one but paying a dollar more , I told them i accepted as well this is the one i wanted orginally but took a while to contact me … How do i tell the 1st company i am no longer intrested…. They were so nice to give me a chance…

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