What Do I Do When I Have a Job, But Get a Better Offer?

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Brianna from University of North Texas asked:

“I applied to many, many places. I ended up choosing an on-campus job that didn’t pay well and didn’t have enough hours because I had a tuition payment deadline. Now, I have an amazing job offer, but I’ve already accepted the other job and have worked for a week. I don’t want to let anyone down, but I can’t really pay bills with this job. What do I do?”

Thank you for your question, Brianna.  Congratulations on the recent job offer!  It is always exciting to receive an offer from a prospective employer, especially when it falls into the AMAZING category.  It may not feel like it at the moment, but your problem is a great one to have.

Having been in career coaching for almost 10 years, I’ve had the good fortune to coach over 5,000 clients with many having had a similar situation occur during their job search, especially those who are the primary breadwinners for their family.  This doesn’t always happen of course, but I’ve had many who have gotten an initial employment offer, then received a better offer after the original offer has already been accepted.

I can truly appreciate the sentiment you indicated that you don’t want to let anyone down.   However, I encourage you to reframe your feelings focusing on the positives in the scenario.  You’ve got more job offers than you need.  Great news!  Additionally, your preferred opportunity has been offered and it sounds like it will allow you to better meet your financial obligations and goals.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person changes jobs ten to fifteen times during their career.  So, it is not uncommon to change jobs in today’s job market.

Make Sure Better Offer is in Writing

If you haven’t already, make sure the prospective employer puts the job offer letter together for you in writing.  If the offer isn’t in writing, then you really don’t have an offer.  Unfortunately, I’ve heard several stories from clients who have accepted a better offer, but the offer fell through leaving the individual with no job since they had already resigned from the original position.  Make sure to confirm all of the important details including salary, benefits, vacation time, start date, and more.

Weigh the Positives and Negatives

Since it sounds like you are still weighing your options, I suggest that you start by weighing the positives and negatives for each job.  Type (or write) out these for both jobs.  Think about questions like:  would this new offer give you the start in your field you are looking for?  Does the prospective employer have the type of corporate culture you desire?  Is there opportunity for growth for top performers?  These are just a few of the questions you may want to consider.

Talk with people you trust and run it by them as well to get some additional opinions.  Contact your career center too as they have trained professionals who can help you sort through your thoughts.  Ultimately, you’ll make a decision and choose the “right” job for you.    I’ll assume after this analysis that the new offer will be the preferred offer.

Accept Better Offer, Fill Out Paperwork, Confirm Start Date

Once you’ve decided to take the better offer, confirm your intention to accept the offer in writing.  Send your acceptance letter via email or snail mail, while highlighting all key offer details.  Additionally, the new employer will likely have you fill out some new employee paperwork.  Take care of this as soon as you can so that you are ready to hit the ground running on the new job.  Make sure your start date will allow you to offer two weeks’ notice with the current employer.

Resign from Original Position

Be a professional and give your campus employer at least two weeks’ notice.  Start this process by typing your resignation letter.  Make sure to thank your current employer for the opportunity, while confirming that you’ll comply with all of their exit policies and procedures.

Once you’ve put together the letter, meet with your current supervisor to let them know verbally of your intention to resign.  You can bring the letter to your meeting and give to them at the conclusion of your conversation.  Be positive and thankful for the opportunity that they’ve provided you with even if for a short period.  While the employer may have to initiative the hiring process once again, you are providing them with two weeks of service, while they sort out their plans.    In some cases, the employer may simply end the affiliation on the day of the resignation so be prepared.  Always leave as a professional and never leave an employer in a lurch by not doing the right thing.  Offering two weeks’ notice is the right thing to do, even if the employer doesn’t accept it.

Putting It All Together

Confirm the offer, but make sure to get the preferred offer in writing.  If you considering staying at the original position, weigh the positives and negatives of each position.  Once you confirm which opportunity is best, officially accept the better offer and fill out any new hire paperwork so you are ready to start on the first day.  This will help you start building a good reputation with the new employer.  Lastly, resign from the original job by having a conversation with your supervisor and give them your resignation letter at the end of the discussion.

As a job seeker, you can’t control the timing in which employers offer jobs.  Recognize that you need to look out for your best interests, while acting in a professional manner with all employers.  Don’t burn bridges at any time.  It can be uncomfortable to resign from a short-term position, especially if it wasn’t received in the order you desired. However, once you decide to accept the better offer be upfront and professional with the current employer knowing you’ll be in the preferred job soon.   Congratulations and good luck!

Here’s to your success,

Bob Nealon


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About the Author

Robert Nealon

For almost 10 years, Bob Nealon has been a South Florida-based career coach, focused on training and coaching college students and professional-level clients to achieve success in their employment search campaign and careers. He has trained over 5,000 clients with strategies on how to best compete in today’s ultra-competitive market to land the job and advance their career. Currently, he is a career coach at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Sports Management from Indiana University, a master’s degree in Sports Administration from Indiana State University and is a multi-credentialed career coach holding industry certifications as a Certified Professional Career Coach, Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Employment Interview Professional, Certified Empowerment and Motivational Coach, Global Career Development Facilitator, and Florida Certified Workforce Professional. He is an active member of Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches, Center for Credentialing and Education, Florida Association of Colleges and Employers, National Association of Colleges and Employers, and National Career Development Association. Connect with Bob via LinkedIn and Twitter.

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