I applied an in-house role with company A (client side). I have been through 4 round of interviews in 8 weeks, feedbacks were all very positive however it required 1 more interview to make decision.

With no guarantee company A would make an offer therefore I accepted an offer (signed & returned employment agreement) from company B, a reputable consultancy with very good compensation package. It starts in 3 weeks.
When I declined company A's further interview request and told them I already accepted an offer from other company. Company A hiring manager emailed me that they were giving me an offer. HR called to discuss compensation details. I have not received any offer paperwork. This only happened on Friday so I will wait until next Monday.
If company A's offer is better than company B, should I accept A and tell B I've changed my mind? Is it unethical? Company A in-house role has more control and better career progression therefore A is better job in long term. Company A, as a client, could potentially hire company B as a consultant.
I would appreciate if anyone could give some suggestion how to deal with this situation.
Many thanks. 

BariTony's picture

The short answer is no. Mark and Mike talk a lot about how withdrawing the acceptance of your offer destroys your credibility. The world's a small place. Whether you realized it or not, you just burned the hiring manager at company B badly. And they will remember it. And you're probably going to interact with them in the future at some point. But, it also destroys your credibility with company A. Even though they made and you accepted their counter-offer, they're likely to question your ethics. Does your "yes" mean yes? Or does your "yes" mean "maybe, as long as it's convenient for me". That's not the type of professional most of us want to work with. You can overcome it, but you're starting at company A with a deficit of credibility.

Another good reason not to withdraw your acceptance is that, in my experience, your offer isn't real until you have a signed copy of the offer letter, and you've returned it. I think that Mark and Mike's advice differs a little bit here, but in my industry (pharma), I've seen too many colleagues accept and offer over the phone, only to get no offer letter and eventually have the offer rescinded. I've also seen people accept a seemingly firm offer before they received it in writing and then, quit their job and relocate their family because the start date came before HR could get the letter out to them. Only later did they find that their salary, benefits, and relocation assistance differed from what they were told by HR over the phone.

You've got something in writing. Stop stressing out. Focus on your new job and have fun.

duplicate_account_MarkAus's picture

Short answer: It is unethical to drop Company B.

Just to add to the "say no to A" pile- look at how company A is behaving.

Company A knows you but doesn't communicate enthusiasm for you until you tell them you've accepted another offer and don't wish to be interviewed further.  They then ignore your wishes and decide to make you an offer without completing their own hiring process.   Not only that - the manager then abandons any relationship with you and asks you to go through to HR to handle the details.

This company goes against your instructions and offers you a "dangle" (there's a cast for that) to put you in a ethically compromising position with Company B.   There's no risk to them for doing so - if things go bad with Company B then Company A gets to call all the shots.  IMHO, you shouldn't even have discussed compensation with HR at Company A and just stuck to your first answer.  

And now you're going to wait a week to formally hear from Company A?   If they wanted you that badly, they'd be in touch a lot faster than that.  

For me, alarm bells go off when I look at how Company A handled this situation.  You've worked with them before so maybe this is unusual - only you can say so.   I'd certainly be using my network to find out what is really going on behind the scenes here.

Right now they look, at best, very disorganised and are managing this hiring process poorly with no regards to your needs or your situation.   Is this an indicator of how life will be working for them?

If Company B has given you a fair offer and seems like a good place work for a few years, I don't understand why you'd damage so much of your reputation to go with Company A.








YHogan's picture

Thanks for all useful advices. I think I will probably get more beaten up here in term of being unethical but I also want to take into account of future career progress so please hear me out. I rephrase the question: which is a better career choice- internal Corporate Strategist or external Strategy Consultant 

I was an external consultant until 5 years ago then I was taken on by the client I serviced as an internal strategist. I enjoyed and understood the advantages of being a internal strategist for example : have a much stronger organization operational familiarity and understanding. In general bigger organisation has more room for career progress. 

Go back to become an external strategist, I will have more various experience because of different clients I will be servicing. 

Regarding compensations, A has room to grow, B is already in their top pay scale. (As per glassdoor)

I know it's a lot at stake personally but do like to make the right choice for my career ethically & professionally as best as I can.

A Very grateful Heartland Lady

PS: Company A turnaround an offer proposal within 3 working days, they will generate formal offer once I agree on the terms laid-out in the proposal. (Spoke to my recruitment friend seemed it's typical in bigger organisation)


Company A does look disorganised but I appreciate as a Fortune 500 company A probably has more hoops to jump than a private company B. The hiring manager is Global Director of the team I can't imagine he does all hiring process plus the time difference (Singapore is 15 hour ahead California) so understand he leaves HR to handle the offer details after I agreed that I would open to their offer (my bad).




duplicate_account_MarkAus's picture

Respectfully - You can rephrase the question but not the facts.   You accepted an offer with Company B and now you're basically playing your acceptance at Company B against what Company A has belatedly offered you.   No matter how you cut it that's a bad way to start any relationship.

And, to be blunt, if Company A's potential career path was so essential to your decision, then you should have waited to see if they offered you something before accepting with B.   It seems Company B was perfectly acceptable to you last Thursday.   So the only thing that changed on Friday was that you want "more".   However, the cost of getting more in the short term will be against your reputation, make no mistake about it. 

It sounds like Company A and Company B have a close relationship and you have a close relationship to both of them.  (Well, until now, because at least one member of this trio is going to be seriously upset). 

If career progression is your main concern, my suggestion is to take the long view and look at the message you're sending by ditching B to go to A.   Your name will be mud at Company B and word will travel - especially if it is an close knit industry.   

And finally, who is to say that staying at Company B for a short time would be such a bad thing?   As I say, you were happy to work for them on Thursday.  I bet the compensation difference between the two offers is not monumental.  Why not do the right thing and stand by your word?  (Standing by your word is both the ethical and professional thing)   Opportunities for talented, reliable people always come up.  You can switch over to Company A (or better) at some point in the future.  

I wish you luck.  Ultimately, you know your situation best and I don't envy the choice you've got to make.  

 PS: Check out this cast.  I can't remember if it talks to your situation specifically, but it is in the same territory.