Can you change your mind after accepting a job offer?

What would you do if you had accepted a new job only to realise that the company, position or location wasn’t the right fit? Perhaps you have accepted a job and realised that the grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence and you actually like you current job, or you have spoken to other people in your network who wouldn’t touch your new job with a barge-pole whose opinion you trust?

If you have resigned from your current role after being made an offer of employment and your boss has offered you more money to stay, and you have accepted… what would you do then?

Does your intuition tell you that you have made an error of judgement that you have to pull out from or would you stick with the new job for fear of damaging your reputation?

Many people find themselves in this sort of circumstance at least once during their career. 

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 rethinking your acceptance of a job offer, there are some things you can do to exit the deal tactfully 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 or employer as soon as possible

If you decide to decline a job offer, you need to be 100 percent sure about your decision. As soon as you have made up your mind, you must tell the recruiter and/ or company immediately. It’s critical to do so, as the employer has already invested time and money in the hiring process. They will quickly need to assess the situation and alter their plans.

Do not damage your reputation by ignoring the recruiter or employer. It is far better to be honest as soon as possible, especially if there is a valid reason for turning down the offer. The recruiter and hiring company will be understanding and respect you for your honesty. Additionally, you may need the assistance of the recruiter in the future or want to work with the company as a client.

Be polite always

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 recruiter or employer are polite. Call them to communicate your decision and apologise personally. Sending an email or text message will leave them with a lot of questions, they will question your professionalism and be dis-inclined to deal with you again.

Do not make up vague reasons for turning down the offer of employment. Stick to concise – but honest – explanations, such as receiving a counter-offer from your existing company or even saying that on reflection that this is not a good fit for you at this time. Explain that you know that this outcome is not ideal, how disappointed everyone will be and apologise again. Tell the recruiter that you appreciate the hard work they have carried out on your behalf and tell them that you would be happy to work with them in the future.

This way you will mitigate the recruiter’s and employer’s disappointment by offering a valid reason.

This will carry much more weight than leaving the recruiter and hiring company guessing.

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 is 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 become more apparent after further consideration.

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

Thornton Legal is a leading legal recruitment company, recruiting for legal jobs in across Merseyside, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Yorkshire and the West Midlands We are passionate about providing a professional, innovative and reliable legal recruitment service that is focused on quality and ensures our clients are matched with the strongest legal talent available. Contact one of our legal recruitment consultants today  to see what we can do for your law firm or legal career.