"ASK HR" is our advice column where we answer readers' questions about pressing work dilemmas, job search queries, resumes, and navigating Hollywood. If you have a career-related question, email us, and the answer could appear in a future newsletter! All submissions will remain anonymous.
Dear Hollywood Resumes,
After sending multiple applications and getting called in for interviews, I was lucky enough to get two offers. One was an immediate offer for a short-term office job, and the other was for an on-set production job, but with an undetermined start date. The production said they understood if I needed to accept another job before they could make a final offer. Because I couldn't afford to wait, I accepted the office job, but I want to stay in touch with the hiring manager for the production job for potential future roles. Since I turned down their original offer, is it appropriate for me to reach back out?
-- Frightened about Follow-ups
Dear Frightened about Follow-ups,
First of all, congratulations on getting both offers! When you head back to the job market in a few months, remember this moment when you need a confidence boost.
If you explained that you accepted another, more immediate/stable job when you turned down the second offer, you're in the clear to follow up as you would with any contact. When your current job ends, send an email on the same thread as your previous communication to make sure they have context for your relationship, share a brief update of your last few months, mention that you're back on the market, and ask how they've been doing. The relationship resets from there.
If you turned down the job without an explanation, it's a little trickier. You're probably better off renewing the connection without an "ask" at stake -- try a softer follow up (on the same email thread!) with a note about something you read about their project in the news, an article you think might be of interest, or holiday well-wishes. This way, you're re-establishing the relationship and can bring up your job search down the line with a different tone to the relationship. You can also follow up when the next season starts up and inquire about open positions.
In your case, it's clear the hiring manager knew you might accept a more firm offer. No one expects you to wait on a maybe when you've got a sure thing, all the more so in a pandemic and competitive job market! Plus, especially in production, hiring managers are aware that freelance positions don't always align, and it's pretty typical for people to turn down an opportunity if it doesn't pop up at the right moment. Unlike a corporation that offers job stability and expects you to show a long-term commitment to their mission, production teams understand that you're usually more enthusiastic about the work generally than the specific production. As long as you're polite, you can treat this contact as you would any other contact.
-- Angela & Cindy