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Re: Ethics: Turning down job offers when you've already agreed (response to post by cep21) | Reply
As a recruiter, I would have to say it is rather unprofessional to accept an offer, and then renege due to a counter offer from your current company or a better offer from another company, but it does happen occasionally. I always try to find out if my candidates are interviewing with other companies, or if they are expecting a counter offer from their current company. I expect everyone to want to work for TopCoder because of what we are doing, but it is nice to know so we can avoid situations like this if possible. It also usually doesn't change what the offer is.

The thing you should ask yourself in situations like this is which is the better job, not the better offer (unless the new offer is substantially higher in salary of course, which can make it difficult). I see so many people take more money and not enjoy their work.

You will upset a whole bunch of people, and you will probably burn some bridges, but they will find someone else to fill that position. So, is it "right" to renege, no probably not, but at the end of the day, it's not going to hurt the company too much.

It happens the other way too, where companies make offers and for whatever reason, they have to rescind the offer. I've fortunately never had to do that, but it does happen.
Re: Ethics: Turning down job offers when you've already agreed (response to post by kclune) | Reply
The only reason I looked for another job was that I was fed up with working on legacy systems.

I interviewed for (and was offered) a position at a rival company. I was offered a slightly higher salary plus a quantity of (company X) bonds which could be converted to cash on an annual basis should the company hit its targets.

The downside was that I would lose 10 days paid annual leave per annum and have to spend a year in support before any possible move back into development. The position was however a move towards newer technologies.

I was asked at the interview with company X why I was leaving and what my current employer could do to keep me. I replied honestly and said that the reason I was looking to move was to gain access to newer technologies.

When I resigned (or attempted to) I was informed that the system I worked on was being replaced and if I stayed put I would be working on its replacement which would be implemented using cutting edge technologies. I was also offered a 20% salary increase. As a result I reneged on my verbal agreement to join company x.

I am much better off than I was a year ago from a technical perspective. I am sure that my bridges with company X have been well and truly burned. On the flip side I am also sure that my threat of resignation from my current company will not be forgotten should we ever need to downsize.

On a final note I work in the city of London and most software developers in the financial arena are pretty mercenary because there are so many opportunities out there. I work with a few ex defence/avionics guys and they have always left positions on good terms because their market place was a lot smaller and word of mouth spread a lot quicker.
Re: Ethics: Turning down job offers when you've already agreed (response to post by amitz.sekali) | Reply
Pretty much. The individual may be able to keep things civil by making a call and discussing things. But, if all it comes down to reneging on the agreement because they found a better offer in the meantime, then one shouldn't expect it to be amicable. But, still, people should be respectful of others and make the phone call. Simply not showing up is really quite ridiculous. To me it means the candidate doesn't have the strength of character to make a call a face up to their decision.

It's easy to look at things as simply contracts and legal matters. So, until you've signed a contract, you're not obligated. However, that's really not how things work. Virtually all amicable business transactions are made based on relationships. By going through the hiring process, you're building a relationship with the individuals at the company doing the hiring. If you blow them off, they're bound to take it personally. They may call it unprofessional, but I'd bet at least some of what they're feeling is a personal offense.
Re: Ethics: Turning down job offers when you've already agreed (response to post by dok) | Reply
Thanks for the direct answer but there is one particular I meant to ask that I'm not sure you had answered, which is probably my mistake since I'm not clear enough.

For all it's worth:

In some culture, commitment/contract is very fluid. Yes, commitment should be upheld but there is no minus point for requesting renegotiation, even after the event negotiated has passed, no change of circumstances happen, and the negotiated item has been thoroughly discussed before and directly violate what has been agreed. That act of asking is still considered professional and the other party may choose to reject the new term.

In business, I or customer/vendor request renegotiation on a daily basis even after an agreement has been reached. Items negotiated can be more than just terms of delivery or payment. Price may even change after delivery has been made. Hell, sometimes even after payment occured.

This phenomenon doesn't only happen with small companies. My ex-boss had told me to calculate the cost of using almost all of his credit line in one of the country's largest bankfor only a couple of days. Strange request indeed. I later found out that the bank ask him to use up his credit just before year end and fill it again immediately after new year. This manuever is to make the bank's balance sheet prettier (to create a seemingly effective use of asset). Anyway, this request had never been talked about when credit line is granted, this is a part of an unscheduled renegotiation of credit agreement.

So it's considered normal to request permission for abandoning an agreed employment, and employer has the liberty to grant or deny such request. The act of requesting that permission itself won't be penalized. But it seems in some places, you're really discouraged to even ask for permission knowing that the company is definitely be burdened.

Correct me if I'm wrong.
Re: Ethics: Turning down job offers when you've already agreed (response to post by amitz.sekali) | Reply
I later found out that the bank ask him to use up his credit just before year end and fill it again immediately after new year. This manuever is to make the bank's balance sheet prettier (to create a seemingly effective use of asset). Anyway, this request had never been talked about when credit line is granted, this is a part of an unscheduled renegotiation of credit agreement.


This behaviour sounds to me like it is verging on fraud on the the part of the bank. If a bank made such a request of me, I would find a different bank immediately. I certainly wouldn't want to take any part in helping a bank misrepresent its assets to its shareholders.
Re: Ethics: Turning down job offers when you've already agreed (response to post by amitz.sekali) | Reply
That's true, negotiations can be ongoing. I'd don't have experience with other cultures, so I can't really comment on what all parties expectations might be. It could be that neither party is *ever* confident that negotiations have concluded, and an agreement reached. But, that is the cultural norm, an accepted.

I would say that when negotiating with someone from the US and an agreement is reached, the person from the US will expect to be done negotiating. If the other party starts again, there may be hard feelings.

I think negotiation is somewhat off from the original topic of this thread though. This discussion is about reneging on an agreement, not re-negotiating it.
Re: Ethics: Turning down job offers when you've already agreed (response to post by StevieT) | Reply
I had realized something about working in IT support. Ignorance is bliss. If a company decide to do something illegal or unethical, you won't face the ethical dilemma. Yes, you will probably unwillingly do something bad but your conscience won't be disturbed.

After knowing I understand enough accounting (and knowing a decision in my past..), an interviewer actually ask me a question "If the company decide to do something illegal, what would I do?". My answer is pretty long and comprehensive :-). I was accepted but end up not working there. That company is actually the one I asked permission to renege. I guess the user grant me permission since he doesn't really like the answer to his question.

Anyway, for benefit of topcoders, there is a dilemma that might be experienced by people working in IT support. Try to think about it now so you will be prepared when it happens. Are you willing to accomodate a public company doing income smoothing?
Re: Ethics: Turning down job offers when you've already agreed (response to post by dok) | Reply
I consider asking permission to renege is part of re-negotiation whereas you don't think so. Semantic aside, cancellation of order is a common occurence in Indonesia and is considered OK as long as permission granted. The act of asking by itself won't be penalized.
Re: Ethics: Turning down job offers when you've already agreed (response to post by StevieT) | Reply
Whether this particular case is a fraud by the bank or not, is actually unclear.

At that time, the rate of government's bond is way too high (loong story). Buying that bond instead of lending to people/business, is really the best investment for bank and it's shareholders. But on the other hand, the economy at that time need serious boost by increasing consumption/spending (thus bank's lending) thus government enforce a ...strong recommendation for bank to do just that. But the economy makes lending a risky business and there simply aren't enough credible debitors.

Not that he did what the bank wanted but if he did, my boss actually would help the bank's shareholders. This bank has a conflict of interests between their shareholders and government. In addition, strictly speaking there is no law breaking at all.
Re: Ethics: Turning down job offers when you've already agreed (response to post by dok) | Reply
I'm sure it is far less common, but I have actually seen this sort of thing happen from the opposite point of view. A former employer once extended a job offer to a candidate who accepted the position and subsequently quit her existing job. Before she could start on the following Monday, another more "preferred" candidate was found at the last minute and the company decided to hire her instead. They somehow neglected to call the first person back and tell her she didn't have a job after all-- she showed up on her first day and was promptly let go. What a horrible experience that must have been! :-(
Re: Ethics: Turning down job offers when you've already agreed (response to post by brogers) | Reply
I assume they hadn't already got a contract signed? It seems quite common for employers to take weeks or months to produce a contract... personally I'm very unhappy to turn up until I have a contract.
Re: Ethics: Turning down job offers when you've already agreed (response to post by d000hg) | Reply
I can only speak for UK law, but you don't need a signed piece of paper to have a contract, it's just a formal way of showing that a contract exists and clearly defining the scope of that contract.

If the company and the employee had agreed (even just verbally) that employment was to begin on a certain day, with a certain rate of remuneration, then a contract already exists and the company probably can't unilaterally back out of that contract without penalty (at least not legally). Signing a document merely puts beyond doubt that an agreement exists, it does not constitute the agreement in itself. This is why you are not bound by a contract signed under duress, because it is the agreement which is important, not the signed document. Strictly speaking, the employee probably can't legally back out of the contract either, but there wouldn't be a huge amount of point in the company pursuing a potential employee in court, since they don't tend to have a lot of money and there is little chance of them working for a company that's just sued them.
Re: Ethics: Turning down job offers when you've already agreed (response to post by StevieT) | Reply
Of course any verbal agreement is very hard to prove. But a letter offering you the job is a different story, especially if you write back accepting. I'd think in that situation you could quite reasonably expect to get paid whatever the notice period is (typically 30 days), although without a contract there is no notice period... still, I would not simply accept being told "go away, we didn't mean to hire you".
Re: Ethics: Turning down job offers when you've already agreed (response to post by d000hg) | Reply
No, this was an "at-will" employment (no contract).
Re: Ethics: Turning down job offers when you've already agreed (response to post by dok) | Reply
Do you also find at will employment similarly ethically sketchy? What is the difference between quitting on day -1 and on day 0?
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