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Backing Out of a New Job to Accept Another?

Backing Out of a New Job to Accept Another?

Alison Green | Ask a Manager

July 08, 2010

That said, it’s true that companies make decisions based on their own best interests, and so it’s reasonable that you should make decisions based on yours. But getting a reputation as someone who doesn’t keep commitments and who leaves a job after a week isn’t exactly in your interests. (Just as it’s not in an employer’s interests to get a reputation as a company that terminates people in anything other than a thoughtful, fair, and compassionate manner.)

Now, with that lecture behind us, there are a very limited number of situations where you can make a better case for what you’re considering:

— The other job is your dream job, an opportunity you may never get again, and the first job is just something to pay the bills.

— You realized very quickly at the new job that there is something profoundly wrong with it — the boss or culture is a nightmare, the job description is totally different from what you were told you’d be doing, etc.

— Your financial situation changed unexpectedly (family health crisis, spouse lost his/her job, etc.) and the other job pays dramatically more.

In these cases, it’s easier to defend breaking your commitment, as long as you (a) fully explain the reason to the first employer, (b) apologize profusely and demonstrate that you know what a terrible situation this puts them in, and © realize that you’re almost definitely burning that bridge.

But it doesn’t sound like your situation fits this category: You like the job you just accepted. You knew what the job was and that you were getting a long commute when you accepted it. You knew it was possible that some of the other companies you’d applied to could still contact you, but when you accept a job, you are saying “I am going to stop considering other jobs for a while now.” It’s hard to make an ethical argument for backing out at this point.

I’m bracing myself for wild disagreement in the comments, though, so bring it on…

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