Q. I turned down a contract offer for a job I really wanted because I had started a job that wasn’t a contract. I wanted the stability of perm role. It’s been less than a week and I already regret it. The more “stable” job seems to have a very negative environment, and the other job was so much more interesting. Is there a way to reach out and see if they’re still interested in me? Will it look bad for me down the road if I don’t stay at this company? And are there ways I could have spotted the negative environment before accepting my offer?
A: While I respect the fact that you turned down an offer job because you already started a job, it’s always important to take the time and really review the pros and the cons of every opportunity. Is the job really that bad, or is it a case of “the grass is always greener”? The other job seemed so much more interesting, but is it really? If you’re confident that you want to make the change and take the other position, call the hiring manager who extended the offer and let them know you’ve changed your mind. Ask if the position is still available. They may have made an offer to another candidate, but if the offer is still available you’ll need a great explanation about why you changed your mind.
Your long-term concern is valid. If you do leave this company within a week, don’t list it on your resume; people make mistakes, and a week is not a career situation. If you do stay, then try and make the most of it by creating a positive environment in your group or area with your team.
Going forward with future opportunities, try to network with people who are currently in the organization and with people who have left. Review the organization on Glassdoor to get a sense of what the environment looks like. For your current role, try to find out if it’s the entire organization, the manager of your group, colleagues, or another source that creates a negative environment or culture—see if there are ways for you to reduce or eliminate it, or ask yourself if you need to start looking for another job.
As you evaluate what’s most important to you in a job, take a look at cultural impacts. Is a stable job more important to you than work you’re very interested in? Some candidates may make a choice that others wouldn’t. A risky opportunity might be the right move for you, but other employees might put up with a negative environment if they knew that their job was secure. It sounds like you moved very quickly to accept the stable job even while you were interviewing for another opportunity. Take a look at what motivated you to do that even knowing that the other job was much more interesting.
If the contract job offers you better experience, a new skill, or an opportunity to network in the industry that you want, then taking that kind of a risk even with a potential ending date can be more advantageous to your long-term career. The reality of a job in a bad environment for a longer period of time may be daunting to you, and that can help you recognize that stability is not the most important aspect of a job for you. Consider that contract opportunities allow you to assess the organization, and the organization to assess your skills. If you make your mark and show the organization your dedication and skills, then there can be an opportunity to turn your role into a longer-term relationship.