How to Avoid Reneging on a Job Offer

The job search is intense. When you receive an offer, you may feel pressured to accept. But what if you accept, and then another opportunity comes along?

Reneging on a job offer happens when you accept an offer – either verbally or in writing – and do not follow through on your commitment to work for that employer. If you accept an offer and later accept another job opportunity, you have reneged on the original job offer.

Reneging on an offer can damage professional relationships you’ve worked hard to build.

Best practices to avoid reneging on a job offer

Prepare in advance.
Before you begin interviewing, think about what you really want in your next opportunity. Consider how you will respond to a high-pressure request to accept a job offer. Review the Recruiting Policies and familiarize yourself with the earliest deadlines employers can give you after making an offer. And finally, seek guidance from your career advisor(s), who can help you navigate any of your questions or concerns proactively and professionally.

Get guidance before accepting an offer.
If you feel unsure about whether this is the right job, or whether there might be a better-fit opportunity, speak with a career advisor to help you review the offer from all relevant perspectives and/or refocus your job search strategy to get the job you want.

Don’t let the pressure override a Good Decision Process that prioritizes your goals and values.
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.

Set yourself up for success by negotiating the right offer.
If the opportunity is close to being the best choice, but not quite right (like location), sometimes it’s possible to discuss small changes that will make a position a better fit. Come talk to a career advisor to learn how to have productive conversations with your potential employer about how to approach this without compromising or burning bridges with companies.

Consider how changing your mind later will impact others.
It’s easy to feel like you are the only one impacted by the decision to renege on an offer, but company representatives, hiring managers, and alums put their reputations on the line for candidates. Reneging can damage relationships with those who worked hard to bring you on board. It can also damage relationships with the school; companies may penalize the school by scaling back the recruiting relationship.

If you are feeling the need to back out of an offer, please talk with your career advisor first. The CDO has seen these situations before and can help you create a thoughtful strategy based on your particular situation. The more you share about your process and interactions, the better they will be able to advise you. You may have more options than you know to get to the role you want.

We’re happy to review your offer with you.
Even if you don’t feel 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.

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

By MIT Sloan CDO