How to avoid reneging on an offer

By Rose Keating

When you receive a job offer, you may feel pressured to accept it right away. But are you fully committed?

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


1. Prepare in advance of an offer and get clear on the criteria you will use to evaluate an offer you receive. Before you begin interviewing, think about what you really want in your next opportunity. Get clear on the criteria you will use to evaluate if a job offer is a good fit for you. This prep work can help reduce the emotional intensity of making a decision at the moment you have an offer.

2. Review the Recruiting Policies and familiarize yourself with the earliest deadlines we ask employers to give you after making an offer. Be prepared to share the policies with employers and to request more time to make a decision. If you aren’t sure how to phrase this, meet with a Career Advisor in the CDO for support.

3. Consider how you will respond to a high-pressure request to accept a job offer at the moment it is offered. Practice acknowledging the offer positively, for example “thank you so much for this offer, this is something I’m very excited about, I’ll take some time to review all the details and get back to you.”

4. 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.

5. Seek guidance from your career advisor(s) as soon as you receive an offer. Career Advisors can help you understand your options in advance and strategize on your communication plan – like asking for more time or asking another firm if it’s possible to accelerate their process – so you can navigate these situations proactively and professionally. Keep in mind Career Advisors and the CDO can only help you if you come talk to us very soon after receiving the offer. It is often too late for a Career Advisor to help you get your ideal outcome if you come to use the day before a decision is due.


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. If you prepare a list of criteria you will use to evaluate job opportunities in advance of receiving offers, you will be less likely to overlook these key factors when feeling pressure to make a decision.

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. Remember there are many factors you can negotiate beyond the base salary. 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 we 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. If the times in Career Central are not soon enough, email an advisor directly so we can meet with you quickly if you receive a time-sensitive offer.

Have you accepted an offer? Let CDO know. Declined? Still let us know as we track all offers Sloanies receive to build a robust database of salary data. Once you’ve accepted or declined an offer, please complete the Employment Survey in Career Central.

By Rose Keating
Rose Keating Director, Career Development, MBA & Specialty Masters