Avoiding Reneging in the Job Search: How to Accept the Right Job for You

The job search process is intense and once you receive an offer, it feels like your next step is to accept. Employers, seeking to snap up the best candidates, might eagerly pursue you for an answer. But what if you feel compelled to accept that great offer, and then the perfect opportunity comes along? Reneging on an offer can damage professional relationships you’ve worked hard to build. What do you do? 

It helps to know how you will handle these situations before you get too deeply into them. Often, when students come to CDO, they’re far along in the process and risk straining or damaging a relationship with an employer. How do you get ahead of these situations?

Think about what’s really important to you.
Staying in touch with what’s really important to you in your career is an ongoing process.  If there is a particular employer you really want to work for, or a location where you really need to be for family or personal reasons, don’t discount that information in the pressure of the job search. If you are unsure whether your top companies will see you as a great fit, speak with a career advisor to help you develop a successful strategy for your job search.

Review the Recruiting Policies; and know that decision deadlines are often flexible.
First, be sure you know the offer deadlines for your degree program and year, outlined in the MIT Sloan Recruiting Policies. If a company pressures you to accept before our deadlines, please contact your CDO advisor right away to see what options you have for extending the deadline. It may also be helpful to know that decision deadlines are often flexible. Meet with a CDO advisor to discuss how to negotiate your deadline with the employer.

Understand there are others in the equation.
Accepting a job is a big decision. It’s easy to feel like you are the only one truly impacted by your decision. Company representatives are often under pressure to secure candidates, and sometimes really ‘go to bat’ for candidates by lining up additional resources or securing mentorship commitments. It is a huge disappointment when a candidate backs out of an agreement. The impact can forever damage relationships with the many team members who worked hard to bring that candidate on board and provide them with a great opportunity.

It can also have a damaging impact on the school. Typically, after a candidate backs out of an employment commitment, representatives from the company contact the career office to discuss what happened. In extreme cases, a candidate reneging on an offer can result in the company penalizing the school by scaling back the recruiting relationship. At minimum, it strains the relationship between the school and the company for several years.

Have important conversations.
First, make an appointment with a career advisor to talk about your plans for the job search.  Develop a strategy that represents your needs and priorities. If you are pursuing opportunities in an industry known for high-pressure tactics, talk with your advisor about how to manage that process.

If you run into any challenges, contact your career advisor first, to talk through your options and guide you in taking steps that will help you get what you want, without compromising or burning bridges with companies.

Even if you are not in a high-pressure job search, you may find the job you feel compelled to accept is not quite what you were looking for. Sometimes, it’s possible to make small changes that will make a position a great fit, or the company has your ideal job in the pipeline. Come talk to a career advisor to learn how to have positive and productive conversations with your potential employer about what you are looking for in your position with them.

Be transparent with your career advisor.
It’s important to be fully transparent with your advisor. Remember, they are your advocate in these situations, and they understand the pressures and concerns you have. The more you share about your process and interactions, the better they will be able to advise you.

You often do have more options than you know, as a candidate. The CDO has seen these situations before and can help you create a successful strategy based on your particular situation.

We’re happy to review your offer with you.
Even if you don’t feel uncomfortable or pressured in the hiring process, it’s still a good idea to bring your offer in for a review with a career advisor. When scheduling an appointment, let CDO know you have an offer, and we will work to get you in to speak with an advisor right away.

Let CDO know.
Once you’ve accepted an offer, please complete the Employment Survey in Career Central.

Employment outcomes are a valuable source of information for our office and for your fellow Sloanies. It helps track employment trends, return on investment, and top companies for the MIT Sloan community. We never share your individual data – only aggregate data is released in the Employment Report.

By MIT Sloan CDO