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Advice on turning down a job offer.

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Re: Advice on turning down a job offer.

Postby Rich Lemert » Wed Jun 15, 2016 4:41 pm

I've asked my wife about her thoughts on this situation in order to add to the female perspective. She's an engineer that has worked in a largely male environment. Her approach - as she described it to me - may not work due to geographical constraints, but the details can be modified.

She would have her letter declining the position written, printed, and signed, all ready to deliver to the department chair or the college dean (whoever officially made the offer). Her letter would thank him or her for making her this offer, and would acknowledge the positive aspects of the position. It would then state that she was declining the offer "for personal reasons." The letter would not mention the jerk that's causing the problem.

She would then attempt, if possible, to have a face-to-face meeting with the chair or the dean, where she would deliver the letter and explain the real reason for her decision. She would further state that she is saving the guy's communications, and that while she does not intend to pursue legal action at this time she will if he continues his current actions.

My wife feels the institution needs to know about this guys actions because if they continue, the institution is going to become involved whether they want to be or not. If they want to ignore her complaints, they will at least be making a conscious decision. (This, coincidentally, would also tell KAR that she's making the right decision to pass on this offer.)
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Re: Advice on turning down a job offer.

Postby I.K.K. » Wed Jun 15, 2016 8:04 pm

Echoing Rich's response, I'm just giving you some insight into what I have seen. If you feel you can deal with the situation, then by all means accept the position.

Regarding the academia vs.biotech/pharma environment, I have only worked for one company for ~3 years. I was in academia, post Ph.D., for about 10 years before that. I have encountered politics in both arenas. However, it is my experience that issues such as sexual harassment are not tolerated in industry and taken far more seriously. IMHO companies, especially those that have investors and are publicly trade, tend to avoid any kind of potentially damaging behaviour like the plague.

Great discussion on a very topical issue. I hope we can help KRA arrive at a decision that works for her.
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Re: Advice on turning down a job offer.

Postby RSD » Wed Jun 15, 2016 8:12 pm

With the caveat that only you have met and interacted with this person, and know what is in those text messages...

I'm with Dave on this one; I can't imagine turning down an ideal position/dream job over one individual. Unless he is the department chair or has serious clout in the department/university, I would re-consider turning down the offer.

There is risk in taking the offer, but there is also risk in taking a different job and being miserable because you turned down the one you really wanted.
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Re: Advice on turning down a job offer.

Postby KRA » Thu Jun 16, 2016 2:16 pm

I'm pre-tenure and this person would be in a position of authority over me, which is why I'm not comfortable putting myself in this situation. I've spoken with my mentors, both at my current job and my graduate mentor, about whether I should turn this offer down or not. All of them strongly recommended not taking the job. I've been cautioned that it can take over a year for person like this to be removed from the university or disciplined, and that's assuming the university decides to take action and doesn't just sweep it under the rug. In moving forward, I think I'm going to take Rich's wife's suggestion and try to get a phone conversation with the dean to explain the real reason I'm turning down this offer. I agree the institution needs to know this behavior is going on. Thank you to everyone for your advice and input! It's been very helping deciding what to do in moving forward.
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Re: Advice on turning down a job offer.

Postby E.K.L. » Fri Jun 17, 2016 10:09 am

RSD wrote:With the caveat that only you have met and interacted with this person, and know what is in those text messages...

I'm with Dave on this one; I can't imagine turning down an ideal position/dream job over one individual. Unless he is the department chair or has serious clout in the department/university, I would re-consider turning down the offer.

There is risk in taking the offer, but there is also risk in taking a different job and being miserable because you turned down the one you really wanted.

The risk in taking this offer is that this situation would escalate. I highly doubt that, once working together, the offender would stop at just texting. And behaviors like this tend to be tolerated in academia and get swept under the rug easily, unless/until something much worse happens.
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Re: Advice on turning down a job offer.

Postby Renee L. » Fri Jun 17, 2016 4:50 pm

I’m a woman who’s worked in industry most of my career, and I agree with others above that it is best to turn down this offer, and consider the other offers that the OP has been given. This is based on my experience with harassers earlier in my career.

The question was posed above as to why a jerk like this doesn’t just end up washed out of the system sooner or later. In this case, the jerk is a tenured professor, who can’t just be fired. Even with successful harassment complaints, the university would have to go through a faculty disciplinary process in order to get rid of the professor. Just google ‘Geoff Marcy’ and read up on the reasons why Berkeley didn’t fire this astronomy professor, but had to wait for him to resign.

As for referring to a man like this professor as a jerk – this isn’t a case of a coworker who gets drunk and makes a pass at a holiday party. The professor isn’t a jerk at all; he knows exactly what he is doing. I believe we should label these individuals for what they are – predators who abuse their positions of power to extract sexual favors from young women who they come across throughout the university system.

The industrial equivalent to this scenario is that of a high ranking manager, involved in the interview process, who makes advances to a job candidate soon after an offer of employment, followed up by sending inappropriate text messages. Who would advise the candidate to take such a job offer? It would be career suicide.

It is unfortunate that men like this professor can’t be gotten rid of until numerous complaints are made and deemed credible. However, the women who file complaints may see their careers or educations negatively impacted, and that’s a big risk to take.

I do want to end with wishing the OP the best of luck with her career.
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