Career Corner: November-December 2004


I'm looking for increased responsibility and have been offered a job that sounds really interesting and pays more money. The trouble is, it's in a city to which I don't want to move. I'm also about to be interviewed for a job that has many of the same advantages but is in a better location. Since the first job is a definite, I'm thinking about accepting it and subsequently turning it down if the second job comes through. What do you think?

When the bottom dropped out of the employment market several years ago, job-search ethics seemed to go out the window. Employers reneged on offers, and candidates returned the favor by accepting multiple job opportunities. It is highly unlikely in this improving economic climate, however, that an employer would renege on a job offer to you. But if you make a commitment, the company will expect that you plan to take the job. If you subsequently decline it, there may be undesirable ramifications, particularly if you choose to remain in the same field. People talk, and you don't want that kind of negative press.

So, what to do about your situation? First, try to buy as much time as you can to make a decision on your offer. You should be able to stretch this out a couple of weeks. Second, call the hiring manager who will be interviewing you for the other position. Let him or her know that you need to make a decision on another offer and that you believe their position is a better match. Ask whether you can be interviewed sooner.

If this strategy doesn't work, and you're left deciding between a definite offer and simply a "possibility," talk to as many people as possible who work for your potential employer to see whether you can allay your worries about location.

In the final analysis, if it still doesn't feel right, politely decline. The economy is improving, and so are your opportunities.

Send your questions to:

Curran is the Fannie Mitchell Executive Director of the Career Center, which offers career services to alumni as well as students.


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