FingerIt’s not an uncommon scenario: you accept a position but soon receive an offer for a better job at a different company that you would rather take. So, what is the best way to quit a job you haven’t even started?

While employers are often disappointed, they are rarely surprised when new recruits jump ship before their first day, especially if there is a long period between hiring and the first day of work. Still, you will want to let the company know your decision in a timely manner and with as much respect as possible. Your reputation is very important, and you never know when you will run into people again.

There are a couple of precautions to take before letting the original company know that you have changed your mind. Carefully consider your decision and whether the new opportunity is really what it seems to be. Take the time to meet with your potential new boss and gain a clear understanding of your responsibilities. Most importantly: make sure you have a signed offer letter in hand before giving notice.

Once you have established that the move to the second company is the right one, you have two options: either write or call the hiring manager at the original company. Email can often be subject to misinterpretation, so making a phone call is likely the most courteous method for reaching out in this situation; a phone call also demonstrates a certain professional maturity, as well. Perhaps most importantly, a phone call gives you the chance to gauge firsthand the other person’s reaction on the spot so you can respond in a way that best preserves the professional relationship.

Whether in phone or letter form, you will want to keep your message succinct. Simply explain that you have been offered another opportunity that is more in line with your long-term professional aspirations. You may choose to apologize for the inconvenience that your decision has caused the company — or simply acknowledge it, at the very least. Follow this with the fact that you want to provide as much advance notice as possible so that the company can resume its search with alternative candidates.

Before jumping into the conversation, it is beneficial for you to prepare yourself for a host of possible reactions from the hiring manager. They might want to renegotiate or attempt to sell you on the position; they could appear quite upset with you. It will be up to you to hold your ground. After all, you have no legal obligation to work for them, and you don’t want to make the situation personal, so keep your responses short, polite, and professional.

Even though there could be some hard feelings at first, it is better that you go with the company at which you will be the best fit. Ultimately, the company you leave would rather have an employee who is happy with and a perfect fit for the position, despite any initial reactions of disappointment or anger.

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