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November 30, 2007


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I would say that you are in a tough spot. You have already accepted the offer from Company B, and to go back on this would be somewhat unethical. I'm not sure what percent $4,000 is above what you make now, but unless it's 20% or more, I would say that the threat of layoffs negates the monetary benefits of Company B. Personally I would not take the job, but if I had already accepted the offer, then I might be forced to do it to keep my conscience clear.

I would stay with Company A. There's a lot to be said for a great environment and a consulting firm that pays you and gives you bennies on the bench.

Going back on your word with Company B is only slightly problematic. I see things like this: They'd back out of an agreement if it were in the company's best interests without so much as a sincere apology to you. Simply let them know that your situation has changed, and you're no longer in a position to change companies at this time, and thank them for their consideration.

I'd then take the bench time to look at pursuing other things, maybe you've always wanted to start a business from home, pick up smaller consulting jobs that aren't in a conflict of interest with Company A, write a novel, or something like that.

Here is how I see it:

1) You have already accepted the job. It would be unethical for you to go back on your word.

2) The company has hired you. It would be unethical for them to go back on their words. Oh wait, they are allowed to lay you off whenever possible?

That is your problem. I would bring up your concern to Company B. Tell them you are worried about getting laid off soon after you joined. You need some sort of a guarantee.

See how they respond to your concern regarding getting laid off. It seems like a legit concern to bring up.

If there's a good possibility of layoffs in December, they may withdraw their employment offer. If these are your only 2 employment options in the area, you're probably better off staying with your current company where you will have more financial stability.

I'd stick with Company A, because so far it sounds like they are treating you well and there is much to be said for flexibility. They sound like they treat you like person while Company B is all about the bottom line.

I am in a similar situation. I have accepted a new job offer that is higher paying but further away. I took the job because my family really needs the money. I am torn, though, because I really love my current job, and I have not given them my notice yet. I have, on several occasions, almost contacted the new company and changed my mind on the job offer, but that would not help my family's money situation.

Anyway, I would not worry about changing your mind on a job offer. At most this would be a minor inconvenience for such a large company, but a decision that would change your entire life. Do whatever is best for YOU, don't worry about the company.

I'm not sure what ethics have anything to do with this issue. The only issue I see is if you decide to stay with A, then B may not give you an opportunity in the future if you decide A no longer is right for you or A lays you off. Burning bridges is never good. You could have fielded options, but withheld accepting an offer.

With this said, I would stay with A. The negatives with A just do not seem all that important. You are still getting paid in between projects, yes it may be a bore, but you have steady income and benefits. 15 miles versus 30 miles: get a more fuel efficient car if you haven't done so already.

The negatives for B far outweigh negatives for A. Job insecurity would mean you might not get your A job back, or if you do you are in a bad negotiating position if A does hire you back if B lays you off. With the economy at the very least flattening, increasing the risk of job insecurity just seems like a bad decision. If you do not already have 6-12 months emergency fund going into B, I wouldn't even think about doing it.

Since you are up for a raise in 2008 with A, you could narrow the $4k gap in negotiating your raise. With that said, being unemployed for 6 months in a small town will consume much more than the $4k/year gap. When you are creating a decision matrix, you have to weigh more important variables. a $4k gap isn't equal when you heavily weigh the potential for job loss going with B.

Last, you aren't foregoing any future job opportunities with B in the future. Yes, in the near term, you have burned a bridge by reniging on the offer to work; however, if B does become more stable, they will continue to look for employees.

if you are looking to increase income and avoid the project gaps, then you might look outside your small town and be willing to move.

I also agree that if you are inbetween projects, then perhaps look for some freelance consulting gigs to bide your time over; get a hobby; moonlight (small towns suck for this if you don't want people to know); volunteer.

On another note. $4k is not enough to warrant a job switch to a less stable situation. Generally a job change is worth it only if the pay is 15-20% higher.

I have accepted an 18% increase for a job that is 30 miles away (vs. 15 currently). Any less and the extra commuting time/expense would not be worth it.

Now would be the time to negotiate with your current employer, company A. You can tell them the truth; I have another offer, it is slightly but not exceedingly better than my current situation, I don't want to go, but have to do what's best for my family. Can we negotiate my staying here?

Things to negotiate for:
1) slight but immediate increase in base pay.
2) more significant raise in 2008 or perhaps a secondary raise after X months.
3) option to telecommute from home a few days per week.
4) more challenging/engaging position within the company.

If you go into negotiations honestly and show your current company that you are sincerely interested in staying, they are likely to try to keep you. They have probably lost trained employees to big company B in the past. No one likes to retrain new employees.

Then, best case scenario, the job at company A gets a bit more lucrative and you can have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too. Worst case scenario, company A gets pissed off and you go ahead and take job B. Good luck!

Tom, you said it perfectly, that is exactly what I would do. I am in that situation, but finding the courage to talk to my employer is tough because I like my boss and do not want to damage the relationship.

Tom is spot on with perfect advice

$4k is chump change in most areas on a combined benefit/pay basis. $2500 increase in pay is borderline insulting at the same time unless you're making $25k/yr. $125 or so a month isn't worth it at all. Within many industries a lateral move is worth a minimum 10% in base pay depending on your current raise levels. Where I work wage inflation oupaces raises by far so the new people make more than people who have been here for 3 years even though they both started at the same experience. This is also the reason that noone stays at a job in my field for more than a couple years because by floating between companies A-G they leverage much greater raises. I actually worked with a guy who had been there for 5 or 6 years who was training me but was making $15k less than I started at even though he had great ratings and solid raises every year.

Unless I was drastically increasing my skillset or had the opportunity for a lot of training at position B I would stay put.

$2500 is not a large annual increase in the grand scheme of things. You could probably make more than that by having a side-job or money-making-hobby in your downtime at Job A.
Keep your current job.

I also agree with Tom's advice.

I am a hiring manager for a largish company (2500 employees) with a staff of about 60 under me and at any given time I have 2-5 vacancies. Hiring is a constant effort for many managers, especially if we are in a tight labor market (engineering, in my case).

Speaking from the hiring side, it is really not that big of a deal for an external candidate to back out of a job offer. I would in no way construe it as being "unethical". I'd much rather have a candidate turn down an offer or walk away from an offer than come on board and quit in a few months because something better came along.

From what you've written, it actually sounds like you have a pretty good position at Company A.

Good luck!

The advice you are getting is all good, specifically from Tom and JP. There are a few questions I would have myself answer

1. Am I really happy at Company A? Is it strictly about money? If money were not the issue, would I stay?
2. Which job will be better for my career long term? What will help you get your next job at Company C? Always think ahead.

If #1 is true, than Tom's advice is spot on. Try and negotiate with your current employer. The worse they can say is no, and you will be no worse off.

I agree with JP et. al. I would venture to guess that you are early career if you are considering moving for $4,000. The 4K is not a great sum and shouldn't be enough of an incentive by itself to justify moving jobs. It sounds as if you can expect to make up the difference anyway with a year or two of merit increases at Company A.

A good working environment, a less corporate (and lay-off prone) culture, and extra time are things that you won't find everywhere. You could use the extra time between projects for you own benefit. Ultimately it's about: where would you be happier working?

I'd probably stay with A. If you are getting paid in-between projects, than you should use the time to learn new skills and to catch up on new technology. The post doesn't say the field you are in. If it is a rapidly changing field like computer science or biotechnology, there are always new things you can learn. Does the company A pay for classes? Has its own courses? If not, there is plenty of material on the internet. While you are on a project it is difficult to find time to stay current.

In terms of ethics - they can withdraw the offer at any time e.g. if they have layoffs; they can lay you off and you can quit at any time as well. So while it may not be nice to change their mind, how is it different from quitting the job? You should let them know as soon as you are sure, though, so they can find somebody else.

I would stay with Job-Company A. There are things you can do with a multi-day
layover. You can take free classes on line. I found a few interesting so called
classes listed on the money store. You could sell things on Ebay. I would love
to be in your position. I would not feel obligated that you accepted the new
job. Should you decide not to go there, I would tell them, it's not the right
time to move into a new spot. The traffic and time factors are probably not
that big of an issue as compared to living in a major city. Beside that Co. B
has a back up candidate. There is always one. mGood luck.

I forgot to mention, don't mention the new job at all to Co. A.
You could subtly ask for a raise. That never hurts. Don't let then know you
looked elsewhere. Good Luck.

My gut says stay with company A.

Stick with A. The raise you've been offered isn't enough to deal with the stress of potential layoffs. There are worse things than being bored at work in between projects - like being laid off. I've been there, it's not fun.

Thank you everyone for your valuable suggestions and opinions. I really appreciate everybody taking the time to put in their comments. I have almost made up my mind and I am going to stay with company A most probably.

Thanks once again for all your great inputs.

J Baba

Here's my advice: figure out what you are looking for. To make this type of decision mostly be numbers and pro/con lists to me is not wise.

My point is this: if you figure out what you are seeking, then at least you have a criterion by which to judge all of these opportunities. Maybe that says A is the job. Maybe B. Maybe neither. But at least you have a criterion.

Pro/con lists and focusing on the money don't give you a criterion. They give you relative comparisons and get you wrapped up into scoring or trade-offs.

I do think it is worth asking yourself why did you accept the job if you weren't sure you wanted to take it. It's not to say you must take the job given that you accepted it. (Although I disagree with some above -- backing out of an offer can have negative consequences depending on how you do it and the type of place it is.) But it might give you some insight into what your real criterion is. It also might help you define the way you want to back out of the offer (assuming that's what you have chosen) in a way that is palatable.

The thrill of the extra money wears off very soon.

But the joy at having work that you enjoy, a pleasurable environment, etc far outlive the short term rush of the extra money.

Besides you are saying that soon Company A 's pay may catch up.

Maybe it is the 30m commute. Attack this, find a way to make it enjoyable no longer a pain.

Hope this helps

joy of

Stay at Company A and keep looking for another job until you are better satisfied.. $4K is chump change and not worth the effort if your are happy and comfortable. Look for a substantial difference. 30 miles isn't that much of a commute and I suppose you can work from home if you are between projects.

Decline from Company B gracefully and apologize for pulling your acceptance. Don't burn bridges if possible.

-Big Cheese

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