Redundancy Diary: Two job offers

This is part of a series of articles talking about my experience of being made redundant from Arista. I am writing these articles as the events happened, though out of respect to my former employer I held off publishing them for several months. The hope is that writing about this will give some encouragement to other people who find themselves in the same position.

After the most thorough second-round interview I’ve ever had and a nail-biting couple of days waiting to hear a result, a second company has made me a job offer. Obviously this is cause for celebration. But it’s not without problems.

I hate writing rejection letters. I’ve had to do it many times when interviewing candidates for jobs I’ve worked at, and I always find it difficult. You might think it would be easier as an applicant to reject an employer, but I don’t find it to be.

It’s simple mathematics that the job application process will involve a lot of rejections one way or another, by employer or applicant. Even if job offers were entirely random you’d expect people to accumulate several offers quite by chance. In fact, people who are qualified for one job tend to be qualified for another, so having to reject several offers is even more common than chance would suggest. But this doesn’t stop me feeling bad about it. Having two offers means it’s simply impossible to avoid disappointing one employer, if not both, but I’m still uncomfortable following through on this.

Curiously, I feel no compunction at all about rejecting an employer when they haven’t made me an offer. I pulled out during application processes many times, most recently for a large financial software company who seemed too chaotic for my tastes, and I didn’t worry about offending them or whether I owed them anything. Clearly a company who has made an offer has often invested more time in you than one that has only done a first round, but this isn’t necessarily the case: one of the offers I’m considering now came after a technical test and a 1-hour discussion, barely more than the 45 minutes I spent on the phone to the financial company.

It feels like what’s going on here is some form of reciprocity. When a salesman buys you lunch, you’re more likely to purchase their product just because of the social norm that if someone does something for you you owe them something. This despite the fact that everybody knows how the game is played.

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