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Great advice from The Lawyer Whisperer

May 5, 2016
Question

I’ve accepted a written offer, but my current employer has now come back and offered me more money that is enticing. Would it be bad to renege on my acceptance and stay?

answer
Julie Q. Brush

There are always two sides to every hiring coin.

Candidates seek to join companies/law firms that provide career opportunity, good pay, nice culture and interesting work. And different factors can influence their decision to explore the market. Some enter the process with resolve, while others are more hesitant about the prospects of pulling the trigger. Depending which drivers and state of mind are at play, the path to “I do” can be either be smooth sailing or fraught with predicament.

On the flip side, employers seek to hire great lawyers who are affordable, possess the best substantive background and fit in well with the culture. Quickly and easily. But the speed and ease with which a process can move is typically compromised by a variety of factors. Making an employer’s quest for a good hire time consuming, nerve-wracking…and at times frustrating. When the finish line is finally crossed with a written acceptance, it is usually accompanied by a sigh of relief and sense of accomplishment…by both parties.

In your situation, you have completed an interview process and have accepted a written offer. Done deal. But now, your current employer has encouraged you to stay by offering you more money. And it’s an “enticing” number. So much so that you’re contemplating reneging on your commitment to your new employer. So would this be a bad decision?

Yes.

But that isn’t the end of the conversation. It’s important to examine and understand the reasons why the decision would be unwise. As doing so will give you better perspective on and comfort with keeping your word:

A Sole Focus On Money Is A Losing Mentality.

Money can be an important factor in a career decision. But it should never be the sole focus. When it is, it can compromise judgment as well as professional reputations. And create a career filled with malcontent. Furthermore, if you dig deep enough, you will inevitably discover that there’s more to your dissatisfaction than meets the currency eye. So the comp bump will not result in lasting fulfillment. You’ll be unhappy and on the market again in 12-18 months.

Re-Examine Your Motivations For Leaving Your Current Company.

There were reasons prompting you to explore other opportunities. Sit down and revisit what they were…and why. These issues won’t be solved by a higher paycheck. Even if money is a primary driver, making more now won’t alleviate the underlying reasons you did not receive the salary or raise you sought. It’s a temporary fix that will not outweigh the career and integrity risks associated with reneging at this stage of the process.

List The Reasons This Opportunity Appealed To You.

Remember why you accepted this position in the first place. What appealed to you about the opportunity? The role? The people? How do these elements satisfy what was missing in your current position? How does the prospect of this new chapter make you feel? Don’t lose sight of these important virtues.

Integrity. Integrity. Integrity.

There are times during an interview and offer stage that a candidate has a change of heart or receives a counter-offer from his/her employer. This typically occurs when the candidate has notified the employer of an offer that has not yet been accepted in writing or of his/her general desire to move on. It is during this window that an employer might invoke the Hail Mary. And it is during this window that a candidate may decide to stay put. But reneging for more money…after the deal is signed, sealed and delivered is not a move rooted in integrity. It will taint your reputation and come back to haunt you. Don’t forget that the world sits on the head of a pin.

When it comes to a job search, predicaments can come with the territory. And when they do, a methodical approach can often clarify matters and make choices easier. So stick by your decision and put your money into this next chapter of your career…instead of the last.

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Comments

William Henderson, Professor, Indiana University Maurer School of Law

Julie is giving great advice here. Bravo. Bill H.

Ganapati Hegde, Not employed, Not employed

Bang on ! There would be definitely more than money, if you are looking out for a new job. This might be only be a temporary fix and the company may decide to fire you, after giving you that raise, by lining up somebody for that position. Once you have decided to move on, then you should not look back.

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