Accept Second Offer After Committing to First?

Diane writes:
JobOfferI am facing an ethical dilemma and am not sure how to proceed. After 10 months of unemployment I received a job offer and after some negotiation verbally accepted the position. I have not yet received a written offer and within the last day have been offered another position with a salary 60 percent higher than the one I accepted and a description more along the lines of what I had hoped to find. In other words the second offer is my “dream job.”

My dilemma is obvious. Since I have not signed anything is it ethical to retract my verbal acceptance to the first position? I feel very strongly about honoring my word but in today’s market I question the worth of such a philosophy. What do you recommend?

The Career Doctor responds:
First you should know that the phrase “when it rains it pours” is so true with job-hunting. You’ll go through periods of nothing and then a fair amount of interest from employers – just as you experienced.

Second you are under no obligation to the first company – except to send a “thank you but no thank you” letter or phone call.

But before you do send that letter I suggest making sure you have the second offer in writing and that you are all set – no sense burning bridges until you are absolutely sure.

Will there be some hard feelings with the first company? Perhaps but until you have the offer in writing you are really under no obligation to them. I would as I mentioned politely turn down the offer and try not to end the relationship badly. Ethically it may not be the best decision you’ll make but don’t let that issue stop you from getting this dream job.

And by the way congratulations on finding your dream job – some people never find their dream job!!

Best of luck.
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