Do’s and Don’ts: Reneging After Accepting a Position

by | Jul 19, 2021

You’ve spent copious amounts of time applying, interviewing, and convincing hiring managers how you can be an asset to their company, you’ve received an offer, accepted and now celebrating the fruits of your labor! Then the unexpected happens, another company is offering you a position as well that appeals to you a little more than the first. What are you to do? 

It can be challenging to navigate a job search as someone just starting out, but it can be immensely more difficult to decide on what steps to take after you’ve already accepted a job offer from one company, then receive another from a different company. If you would rather take the second offer over the first, you will need to first make the appropriate decisions on which offer to accept. Though it may seem having multiple companies interested in you is a good problem to have, it can be an extremely stressful and awkward situation. As a candidate there are ramifications from rescinding your acceptance of an offer.  In this article we discuss why it’s detrimental to verbally accept a job offer from a company and then go with another. 

Imagine yourself as a hiring manager, you’ve gone through over 500 applications for one role, narrowed the applicants down to 50, conducted interviews for all 50 candidates, and now landed on the one in which you’ve extended an offer to. This candidate accepts the offer, and you feel the weight being taken off your shoulders; You and your team celebrate and start sending out rejection letters to the other candidates, only for this candidate to renege and go with a different company. How would you feel in this position? Angry? Annoyed? Disappointed? Often roles have specific dates in which they need to be filled, if you have to restart the hiring process or reach out to rejected candidates it can really set back the department and, in some cases, how the company functions overall. 

In addition to inconveniencing the hiring managers and company, there can be some serious consequences of going back on your word in this scenario. For example, sometimes the hiring managers at the company you accepted an offer from, then changed your mind may know the hiring managers of the second company. This practice of accepting and then rescinding is frowned upon so it may result in you losing both positions if the hiring managers know one another. Another example of some of the ramifications of this is essentially being “blacklisted” from that company which can hurt you in the long run if it’s a fairly large company in which you may want to apply at again later down the line in your career. 

So how do you avoid this? 

First things first, it’s a good rule of thumb to simply avoid accepting any offers if you are still on the fence about joining or are waiting to hear back from several other companies. It’s important to keep ethics in mind when making a decision like this one. Think of it like this, if you accept a position that you end up not wanting to pursue down the line later, you’d be potentially taking that opportunity away from another qualified candidate. It’s easier to turn down an opportunity than to accept it if you can’t be 100% committed. If you’re waiting for other offers to come in, you can simply ask for a few more days to make a decision as to not inconvenience anyone later down the line.  

What if it’s unavoidable?

There are proper and respectful ways to go about handling this situation if it is absolutely unavoidable, which in some cases it may be. You should always contact the hiring manager immediately after you find out or decide you won’t be able to accept the position to avoid further inconveniencing them. Waiting until the last minute is not only unprofessional but it’s inconsiderate as well. Letting the hiring manager know as soon as possible can help eliminate the need to panic on their end and can help them start the process of finding a replacement fairly quickly.

Knowing when it’s out of your hands

If you choose to withdraw from a position you must deal with the consequences that come with it. It’s important that you express gratitude and conduct yourself in a professional manner while withdrawing, which may lessen the backlash you get. However, you must also accept and know that once you withdraw it is out of your hands in terms of how the hiring managers and the company feel about you as a candidate and as a person, but don’t let this discourage you. Take these things into consideration and implement them into your job hunt, your reputation will thank you!

By Alex Williams

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