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Some Good and Bad News on the Job Front

Posting yesterday was light due to a job interview in Philly. It went well. It’s a very good fit, and I think it would be a great work environment. I interviewed with another outfit Monday, and it also went well. Both are outfits that interviewed me for other jobs, turned me down, but have brought me back to consider me for other positions. So I am happy about that.

But the company I interviewed with Monday just has clues here and there that it might not be a great work environment. There are certain warning signs you can kind of pick up during the interview process, and I’ve been getting those kinds of vibes. It’s little give aways that kind of let you know that people aren’t all that happy and relaxed. If you’ve never been on the other side of the table, interviewing people for a position in an environment you know is miserable, you might not know what I mean. I could be completely misreading the situation, but I just have a gut feeling. If not for that, the work sounds pretty interesting, and it would get me back into engineering and out of IT, which is an interesting proposition, but not something I’m completely sure I want to do yet.

The place I interviewed with yesterday seems to be a happy, relaxed place to work, and I’ve been favorably impressed with the people I’ve met during the interviews. The outfit is extremely stable, so for once I would not be worrying every month that I might not have a job the next month. I’d have some people under me, so it would get me some better management experience than I currently have. But this is a large employer, and I expect they will not be able to move as quickly as the other outfit. I believe that the other outfit is progressing toward an offer.

So the job that puts off some bad vibes is likely to plunk cash on the table before the job that I think I would really enjoy. But when you’re unemployed, cash on the table is cash on the table. So what to do? My inclination is to proceed with the offer, and set a start date to mid-November. That will hopefully buy enough time to see if the other opportunity can be progressed to an offer. If they can move quickly enough to telling me their intention is to hire, I will withdraw from the other outfit before my start date. It’s a bit of a shitty thing to do, I think, to accept a job then pull out before you start, but it’s probably better than starting and quitting after a few weeks.

I’m curious if any readers have had experience with this situation, on either side of the table, and what you think the best policy is? You begin to understand why employers are wary of the unemployed. I have to wonder if it’s not so much the stigma of the person being let go by someone else, so much as that unemployment makes you consider doing things you’d never do looking to switch jobs. I have always held myself to high standards, and this is not a natural thing for me to do. Do you tell the one employer they are a second choice? What if the first choice falls through? I’m afraid I’m not going to be relaxed until I’m settled in a job.

15 Responses to “Some Good and Bad News on the Job Front”

  1. David says:

    You take an offer when it comes along. The day I started at a rather unhappy place, I got a offer from a better place. You have to do what is best for you. The employee churn rate is so high you’re not likely to burn any bridges and with unemployment so high, they will find a replacement if you leave after a few weeks or months.

    But, if the place is that bad that it will have negative effects on your life, you pass it over and keep looking.

  2. BeatBox says:

    I once interviewed for a job and the woman said. If we hire you, you can take my office because I am ready to jump out the window.

  3. Starting a new job and then jumping ship is not terribly nice, but if you get inside and discover that they are indeed the mess you sense, it is probably the best choice. Much better to delay starting the new job long enough that you can tell them, “I received a better offer; sorry, I will not be coming to work for you.” They may not be thrilled about it, but it does not generate either the paperwork or annoyance that starting and quitting the same week does.

  4. Robb Allen says:

    When I left my job a few years ago, I ended up working for an insurance underwriter company. They needed someone like me, and in a bad way and I knew I was either going to be a hero or despised by everyone who wasn’t a VP or higher as I changed everything (they were working in VB and still hadn’t moved into the .Net world). My gut told me the same thing, but I didn’t listen.

    Less than 4 weeks later, I was in a new job.

    Listen to your gut.

  5. Jake says:

    Starting a new job and then jumping ship is not terribly nice, but if you get inside and discover that they are indeed the mess you sense, it is probably the best choice.

    This. I’ve been in a situation where I should have jumped ship (an offer for a supervisor position with an ambulance transport service, vs. the commission-based sales job I had just started) but didn’t because a) it felt like a rotten thing to do, and b) I didn’t want the appearance of “job hopping” on my resume (this was before the current economic situation).

    Less than a year later I was job hunting again because the business just couldn’t pull in the customers. Had I taken the other offer, I would have still been employed, and put management experience on my resume.

    If you need to jump ship for a better situation, go ahead and do it.

  6. Jeff says:

    When I was looking for my first job out of school, I got an offer from my second choice while still waiting on my first choice. I told my first choice about the offer and what the acceptance deadline on it was. They made me an offer in time, and I still work there over 6 years later.

    Being open and honest is definitely the preferred way to go, but why not start with being honest with the people where the truth is something the want to hear?

  7. Stephen says:

    Way back when I was a manager I hated going through a long process of hiring someone then having them change their mind after the offer and going elsewhere. Though I understood it happens and didn’t take it personally.

    But had any of those people shown up for an opportunity later I would have taken it into account — it would actually be a positive that they’d already cleared my interview and background check process, and if I really liked them I’d move them to the front of the line, but if there were another candidate close to them … well, I’d go for the other one (that never happened, but that’s what I would have done).

    I did roughly the same thing before I took the job I have now, but I think it was excusable. I did interview after interview with a company offering XX dollars, and XX dollars was fine when I started the process. But 6 months later, when they made the offer, I knew I was about to get 2 offers for XXX dollars with companies that moved a lot faster. So I didn’t feel bad turning down the offer because I’d applied in good faith, followed the process in good faith, but they drug their feet.

    Of the two offers I got for XXX dollars … I had gone through quite a few interviews on both, liked them both, and basically took the job with less travel but also less money. 3 years later the jury’s still out on whether it was correct, but I have a job so it wasn’t wrong … ;-)

    Do what you got to do. Virtually any company you work for will feel 0 obligation to you, and drop you as soon as you don’t meet their needs. Why would you treat them differently?

    (I actually am a company loyalty kind of guy, but I also understand it’s a one way relationship most of the time)

    • “Do what you got to do. Virtually any company you work for will feel 0 obligation to you, and drop you as soon as you don’t meet their needs. Why would you treat them differently?”

      This. Most people who have a job get freaked out by the idea of being like me – self-employed. They like the ‘security’ of being employed. Such security is nothing but an illusion. I was dismissed from a very small company that ran like a family because of budget cuts. There is no loyalty, and you should do whatever is best for you.

  8. Stephen says:

    BTW — are you forthright with these companies that you are a gun rights activist guy? Any problems with that? I would think most IT companies would track you down.

    I always wonder about that myself, as it seems like every 6 months another layoff of some kind looms at my company, though I’ve survived them all thus far.

    • Sebastian says:

      I’m not. It’s not a good idea in this area. Half the jobs I’m applying to are in New Jersey. The one company I’m a little wary about is in New Jersey. The other is in Philadelphia, in an industry not known for its tolerance of conservative thought.

  9. Yu-Ain Gonnano says:

    As someone who has had an employee quit 2 weeks after starting and who has had a boss quit before even starting, both are pretty crappy. But the former is by far the worse. That guy found himself on the ‘No-Hire’ list after that. And if employers are checking backgrounds being on that list is something they will divulge.

    I would much prefer that you tell me you have interviews outstanding and would like time to clear them all up before making a commitment. And in most cases the world will not end if the new-hire starts in 4-weeks instead of 2. I’ve never based a hire decision off of someone’s start date.

  10. Granny says:

    I hired individuals before that accept and then change their mind for various reasons before starting and even shortly thereafter. Not always happy about it but I want employee’s that are happy with their decision of working there and if there’s something out there that they wish they were doing, they usually aren’t that loyal and will eventually leave anyway. I have even hired folks that did that and then want to come back. It’s not the best situation to be in but in today’s times I don’t think it’s that uncommon either. Wishing you the very best and that all works out.

  11. Sebastian says:

    Based on the comments, I think I’m better off trying to put off the start date, making it clear to the preferred employer that I am holding off another offer, and also make it clear to the other place that I have some loose ends I need to tie up before I can start. I’m giving the preferred employer until the middle of next month. If they can’t move in that amount of time, not much I’ll be able to do, I think.

  12. JC_171 says:

    I had a similar situation about a month ago. I’d been working for an engineering firm for just over a year while also looking for a job in City X. I was very happy with engineering firm A, but my fiancée lived in City X, and circumstances meant I had to move to her instead of the other way around.

    I managed to snag an offer from engineering firm B in city X, but they offered me the same salary I had been making at firm A, despite being three times the size of firm A and being in a much larger city with a higher cost of living. This was sneaky on their part (or dumb on my part!)- they had asked what I was making at firm A prior to making an offer. Firm A was already paying me below average for an engineer (I didn’t complain because I was happy to have a job considering I graduated in 2010) so I was basically getting a pay cut. They also knew I was moving to be with my fiancee, so they probably figured they had me over a barrel… which they did! I promptly accepted the offer with firm B and put in my two weeks with firm A on a Friday.

    Lo and behold on Monday, firm A offers me a 10% raise to stay on with them. They would allow me to move to City X and telecommute they would cover all related expenses (Phone, Internet, gas, etc.). I agonized over the offer for a week before turning firm A down, partly because I was worried about working outside of the office environment with barely a year of experience, but also because I had already given my word to firm B.

    I’m about a month in with firm B, and so far I’ve been quite pleased with them. I found out recently that several co-workers are gun nuts as well. Hell, my boss even used to shoot IDPA! I also managed to snag some part time work by telecommuting with firm A on nights and weekends (with firm B’s blessing) which makes up for the cost of living increase.

    Anyways, I would absolutely avoid reneging on a job offer. If you get an offer from the NJ firm first, I would suggest contacting the PA firm about expediting their decision like Jeff said above.

  13. alcade says:

    I once took a job that I didn’t particularly like, but still had an interview with another employer scheduled about a week after my hire date. I went ahead and attended the interview, because I felt it was a better job environment. I thought the interview was going well based on many different signs, until, out of honesty, I did mention that I’d been working for a few days at my new employer. The interviewer hastily ended our discussion and I wasn’t offerred a job.

    “I’m not. It’s not a good idea in this area”

    Good idea. I had a former employer see fit to turn me in for police investigation because they thought I was a crazy gun nut.

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