Second thoughts: Can you change your mind after accepting a job offer?

By Robert Half on 10 June 2019

Have you ever accepted a new job only to realise 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 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/employer as soon as possible

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

If only a few days have passed since you accepted the job, you may think you needn’t bother, but it’s definitely common courtesy 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 hiring manager and/or recruiter are polite. Call them to communicate your decision and apologise personally, rather than sending them an email, a text message or a social media update.

Don’t use any reasons for the second thoughts that could come across as reflecting negatively on the recruiter or 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 have 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 would otherwise put you off.

So, before accepting a job offer it’s important to take time and consider if the position is a good cultural fit for you before accepting a job offer. 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.

If you need further information on how to decide if a job offer is suitable for you, it’s a good idea to contact us today to talk about your options.

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