Second Thoughts: Can You Change Your Mind After Accepting a Job Offer?

By Robert Half August 9, 2018 at 10:45am

Have you ever accepted a new job only to realize soon after that the position, the location or even the company, wasn’t the right fit?

Or, perhaps, you said yes to a job offer because it seemed like the sensible thing to do, rather than something you felt passionate about?

Most people find themselves in this sort of circumstance at least once during their career. Often, they feel too anxious about the repercussions of having second thoughts to think they can change their mind.

However, it’s important to know that it is possible to turn down a role after accepting a job offer. Indeed, if you have second thoughts after putting yourself forward for a position, this might be your instincts telling you to reconsider. After all, there’s nothing worse than having to go to work every day to a job you just don’t enjoy.

If you’re currently second-guessing your acceptance of a job offer, there are some things you can do to exit the deal tactfully without having to face any serious repercussions:

Already accepted a job offer? Read your contract carefully

If you have already accepted an offer of employment and signed a contract for the role, you need to read through the entire document with care. Look for any stipulations about rescinding your acceptance or giving a specified amount of notice should you change your mind.

Most contracts won’t have any specific clauses about this sort of thing and generally focus on salary levels, confidentiality clauses and responsibilities. However, while it is likely there won’t be any legal repercussions if you change your mind, it might be pertinent to get some advice from a lawyer or expert before accepting a job offer.

Tell the recruiter or employer as soon as possible

If you decide to decline a job offer, you need to be 100 percent sure about your decision. Next, it’s imperative that you let the recruiter and/or company representatives know right away.

If only a few days have passed since you accepted the job, you may think you needn’t rush to provide an update, but it’s critical to do so, as the employer has already invested time and money into trying to help you.

Be polite at all times

The best way to come out of an awkward situation, such as reneging on an acceptance of a job offer, is to make sure all your interactions with the recruiter or employer are polite. Call them to communicate your decision and apologize personally, rather than sending an email or text message.

Don’t use any reasons for the second thoughts that could come across as reflecting negatively on the company involved. Stick to concise – but honest – explanations, such as no longer being able to make a move due to family commitments, or receiving an unexpected, higher-level position elsewhere that you feel obliged to take.

It is also helpful to list some of the positive factors of the position and the company, and to mention your appreciation for the people you met during the selection process. You never know when you might come in contact with them again.

Conclusion: It’s not the end of the world if you have second thoughts

While having to go back on your acceptance of a job offer is never going to be the preferred choice, it’s unlikely to affect your career negatively over the long term, especially if you don’t make a habit of doing it.

Receiving an offer from a company is exciting and sometimes it is easy to miss or overlook important factors that become more apparent after further consideration.

So, before accepting a job offer it’s important to take time and carefully consider if the position is truly good for you. If you spend time digesting all of the information to fully understand what the position entails, you are able to make an informed decision to accept or decline.

Keep in mind that employers don’t want new hires who would rather be somewhere else.

Change your mind about a job offer and want to continue your search? We can help!

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