What happens when “It Happened Again” happens to you

In my last blog, I talked about a Business Analyst who had accepted a job and then resigned before starting to accept another job.

I received a lot of feedback regarding that post, including a question on what to do if caught in a similar situation. Would I recommend that the person take the job they committed to, even if they now don't want it?

The position the Business Analyst found himself in is a very difficult one. If I were helping a friend with such a dilemma, the first question that I would ask is whether the person ever really wanted the job in the first place. If so, what was it about the job that they liked and wanted and what has the appearance of the second job offer done to change this. In other words, is the new job offer just a "new shiny thing" that is attracting them or is it substantively better in opportunity? While some may suggest that if it is better in compensation, this is a differentiator, I would generally disagree. Too many times in my career, I have either experienced directly or seen through others, situations where a person in Company A starts out at better compensation but is soon left in the dust of a similar person at Company B who was being paid less at the start.

In the case of our Business Analyst, he turned down our job to become a Manager in a large multinational. While on the surface this seems significant, I fear that he will quickly learn that his manager title in the bureaucracy of that large company is somewhat meaningless. Further, the opportunities that he will be given to take on advanced projects and network with and learn from senior executives will be diluted in comparison. There are pros and cons of working in a big versus small organization. There is no right or wrong answer, but it is important to understand the differences and understand the value of each to you.

There is also a simple way to resolve these questions, although it is uncomfortable and takes some courage. I always strongly recommend that you talk to the employer whose job you accepted. In the case of the Business Analyst and others I have mentioned, they all notified by email. This is not professional, creates bad feeling and burns bridges. It also robs you of a great opportunity to make sure that you are making the correct decision.

If our Business Analyst had picked up the phone or come in to see us, this article would likely never have been written, and not because we would have talked him out of accepting the other role. If he had asked my advice prior, I would have said, go see them before you accept the other job. Tell them what has come up and why you think you should take the second offer. Ask them to release you from your obligation to them.  

Most employers will not try to "save" an employee if they resign because even if the "save" is successful, the employee will generally resign again in the near future. In the same way, most employers will release you from the job acceptance if you change your mind. They will likely question you a bit and see if your thinking and decision-making is clear, but this is as much to be helpful as to try and convince you of a different outcome. While in the end, they may not agree with your decision and will be disappointed, they will respect you. Most importantly, you will not have burnt a bridge that may come back to haunt you later.

© 2011 Meaford Group

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