When considering backing out of a job offer, there are several things to reflect on before you decide if it’s a safe or stupid idea.

Several weeks ago, I had a client who had signed a job offer to move and take on a new opportunity. However, just before the start date, she decided to renege the offer and take a different position closer to home. While she may have felt it was a safe decision since she had not yet started the job, backing out of a job offer can have its downfalls.

In this specific scenario, the employer was upset because they had stopped interviewing potential candidates once she accepted and then had to start over in the search process. Likewise, as a recruiter, I found myself in a sticky situation with the employer and also had to begin the search for potential candidates. The candidate felt she was in a safe spot and made the right decision, but she definitely burned bridges with the employer and possibly with me as her executive recruiter. If you have accepted an offer and are considering going back on your decision, make sure you’re making the right choice both for the immediate and long term.

Before making such a decision, there are several factors to consider.

  1. If you burn a bridge with the potential employer, will it hurt in the long run? If it’s a company with which you would like to eventually land in your career, reneging the job offer could be a bad professional move. They will be less likely to consider you for future opportunities.
  2. Do you have a relationship with the recruiter with whom you’re working? If so, it could potentially damage that relationship with the individual and with the firm. Should you think you would want or need their service in the future, think twice before backing out of an offer.
  3. Is the position a permanent position or a contract position? If you’re an independent contractor or looking at temporary work, it may be worth it to stick to the job offer knowing that new opportunities will come your way in the future. If it’s a permanent position, there may be more leeway as you will likely stick with the position you choose for the long haul.

I have found myself facing this situation with several candidates in my five years of recruiting. While recruiters always want what is in the candidate’s best interest, I strongly urge my candidates to take a deep look into the repercussions of backing out of a job that they have already committed to. However, it’s always better to back out prior to the start date than to begin a new job and then leave soon after.

Are you an employer who recently had someone renege a job offer? Or have you turned down an opportunity for another position that you thought was a better choice? If so, what was the end result? Share with us below.


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