Reneging on an Accepted Job Offer

by | Oct 25, 2023 | After the Offer

It used to be that once a job seeker accepted an offer, it was almost guaranteed they would be starting in the position, pending a background and/or drug screen. Those times certainly have rapidly changed for employers. A recent study by the HR consultant group Gartner, found that a whopping 50% of candidates who accepted a job offer during the twelve-month period of May 2022 to May 2023, ended up backing out of the agreement.

Now, we don’t want to encourage you to renege on an offer, but we understand there are circumstances where this may occur. There are a number of items to consider when deciding to renege on an accepted offer letter. Let’s take a moment now to review a list of what you should consider before formally communicating that you will not be joining an organization after all.

• Did The Original Offer Change? You were happy enough with the received offer to accept it. What has changed and is it worth going back on your acceptance? If you found out something post-approval that is a deal breaker, then it makes sense to reverse your decision. This could be a fundamental change in the offer, such as a compensation decrease. Perhaps you were not provided with certain information, such as Benefits Plan Summaries (with cost numbers), until after you said OK and now find that the medical does not meet your needs. Maybe there was a misunderstanding involving the work schedule or your ability to do your job from home. Any of these major adjustments to what was agreed upon could justify changing your job direction.

• Is It Nerves? Changing jobs is a big deal and having second thought jitters is quite common, both during post-acceptance notice period and after starting the position. Most of the time, if you hang in there, you will find that your initial reasons for wanting to leave your past position and accept this one were spot on. A key here is to really examine why you originally wanted this position. To help soothe your nerves, a savvy Hiring Manager will continue to connect with you after the accepted offer and during your notice period.

• Do You Have a Counter? I am sure many of those reneging on their accepted job agreement are doing so because their current employer made a counteroffer. Before accepting any counteroffer, please make sure that this is the right decision for you. Ask yourself why whatever has changed (such as compensation, title, etc.) was not done prior to communicating your plan to depart. Is this because your current employer does not truly respect their current staff, or is there some more understandable and acceptable reason?

• Did Another External Offer Come In? In most job searches, a person is speaking to multiple companies simultaneously about their job openings. Perhaps you accepted an offer because it was first, and you were not sure if another was going to occur. It is exciting to be wanted, and a second or even third offer can be very flattering to a person. The key for you, is to make sure that whatever is in this additional offer is truly important enough to perhaps fracture an additional company relationship (remember, you may have permanently damaged the situation with your current employer by giving notice). Finally, on this matter, are you sure there is not going to be another offer from a different company come in? If you think there will be more, you may want to wait until you have that one to evaluate, before you renege on one and accept another.

If you do decide to renege on your accepted job offer, then it is critical to do so professionally. The thought of calling the Hiring Manager and informing them may be nerve wrecking, but it is important to make the personal communication, rather than simply being a “no show” on the first day or leaving a message. By personally reaching out, not only are you doing the right thing, but also perhaps salvaging your reputation with this organization for potential future opportunities.

Deciding to renege on an accepted job offer is a major decision to make in your career. The fact that (according to the Gartner study) 50% of candidates did this in a twelve-month period indicates that perhaps not as much thought is being placed on this decision as should be. If you do decide to go in this direction, then be sure to have well thought out the reversal and communicate your change in a professional manner.

As always, the best of luck in your job search.

The following has been prepared for the general information of WNYJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.

Joe Stein WNY Human Resources Professional

Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at: Joe Stein

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