Career Advice

Regret Accepting Job Offer? Here Are Common Reasons And How To Decline Accepted Job Offer

Picture this: You’ve been searching for a suitable job for months, and then finally an OK offer comes along. It is certainly not your dream job and the money isn’t fantastic — but it’s the only offer you’ve received so far that’s decent. So, you accept the job offer and decide to make the best of things. However, when you open your email the next morning, you learn that you’ve received another offer — and this time for the perfect job.

What now? What do you do in the event that you regret accepting job offer? Since this is a tricky situation that pops up more regularly than you may think, I did some research to provide you with some guidelines on how to go about declining a job offer you’ve accepted.

Common Reasons Why You May Accept a Job Offer, And Then Regret It

In a perfect world, job seekers would receive multiple offers for suitable positions and would then have ample time to weigh up the pros and cons of each before making a well-informed decision regarding their future employment. However, this is often not what reality looks like. In the current economic climate, job seekers may apply for multiple positions before they even get an interview, which is still no guarantee that they will be successful and receive a job offer.

Since job opportunities are not always abundantly available, job seekers may at times be forced to accept offers for positions that are not 100% suitable. If you’ve accepted an offer for a job that’s not exactly perfect, only to regret accepting it later, don’t beat yourself up. This kind of thing happens all the time, and for various reasons. Here are a few common reasons why job seekers may want to renege on an accepted job offer:

  • Better offer: You may regret accepting job offer if a better offer comes along subsequently. Here are comprehensive guide on how to tell a company you have another offer.
  • Time to think: If you’re an impulsive person who tends to make rash decisions, you may regret accepting job offer once you’ve had time to think things through.
  • Contract details: If you’ve signed a contract without reading through the finer details, only to do so later and realize that the terms and conditions are not suitable, you may want to renege on an accepted job offer.
  • Experience in job search: New job seekers may say yes to the first offer that comes along since they don’t know better. Once they’ve spoken to a parent or mentor, they may realize that they should rather have gone for more interviews or learned about other opportunities before committing.
  • Subsequent information: You may obtain information about the company where you will be working after accepting an offer that is negative or damning. Such information may motivate you to want to renege on an accepted offer.
  • Illness or other unforeseen circumstances: Sometimes, events outside of your control may prevent you from honoring your acceptance of a job offer. You may, for instance, learn that you have a life-threatening disease that will involve complex treatment or you may need to move to another city or country due to a parent, spouse, or child.

Is it OK To Reject an Offer After You Have Accepted it?

Once you’ve accepted a job offer, is it possible to decline it consequently? The answer is, “Probably.” Although reneging on a job offer happens more regularly than people may realize, it is still not something you should do lightly, though. Actions always have consequences and, depending on your unique circumstances, it may or may not be wiser to actually honor your commitment for a while and then opt for a better position.

The ease with which you can renege on an accepted offer will depend on how you accepted the offer. If you verbally agreed to take a job or accepted via an email or message, chances are that you’ll be able to get out of the commitment without any legal implications or messiness.

Even if you’ve signed a contract, however, you should be able to rescind your decision without too much hassle. Read through your contract carefully to learn whether there are any stipulations regarding a notice period should you change your mind or any other information regarding reneging on your commitment. In general, contracts focus on job descriptions, salaries, benefits, and confidentiality clauses, so you may very well find that it contains nothing legally binding regarding changing your mind to work there.

Even if you find such information in your contract, you may find that the company is willing to let you go without too much fuss. This is because companies tend to want to employ people who are enthusiastic about working for them. It is better for them to look for a more suitable candidate right away than to accept your resignation a few months down the line.

How To Decline an Accepted Job Offer

If you’re in a position where you’re thinking twice about an accepted job offer, it may be useful to read through some guidelines that may help you make the right decision and act in a way that’s least harmful to all concerned parties.

Think the Matter Through

Even if you know for sure that the offer you’ve accepted is not really suitable, you should carefully consider all possible outcomes before rushing in and letting the company know you’re no longer available. Even if you’re under no legal obligation to honor your commitment, there may be repercussions if you renege on an accepted job offer.

Firstly, chances are that any future job applications at the current company will not be successful or even possible. If the company is small, this may not be a problem. However, if it’s a major player in your industry, you may be better off honoring your contract for a year and then moving on to a more suitable position.

Also, if you’ve obtained the position through a recruiter or staffing firm, be aware of the fact that they may talk among themselves and also to other recruiters. Although you will not be blacklisted on the job market or be barred from using a different staffing firm in the future, there’s a slight chance that your decision may have an impact on future job applications, especially if you live and work in smaller towns or areas.

Read Through Your Contract

If you’ve signed a contract, you will need to go through the document carefully to gauge whether you are in any way legally bound to the company. As stated before, chances are that the contract will not contain stipulations regarding reneging on your job offer.

However, if you find that the company has stipulated that you need to provide them with a notice period, or have other requirements, you will need to decide on the best way forward. You can either opt to honor the contract and provide them with your notice or you can inform them that you’ve changed your mind and wish to renege on your acceptance.

It is then up to the company to decide whether they will want to enforce the terms and conditions as stipulated in the contract, or opt to rather just let you go. You will probably find that the company will choose to do the latter, since it makes no sense to employ somebody who doesn’t want to work there.

Consider Alternatives

Although declining an accepted offer will probably not have serious implications for your career going forward, it’s still better to avoid doing so where possible. If the reason you no longer want to work for the company involves variables such as salary, hours, or benefits, consider renegotiating your terms of employment.

For instance, if you’ve realized that the commute to and from work will cost you a lot in gas, ask whether it will be possible to work remotely twice a week. It may be wise to frankly tell the company you’ve received a better offer of employment and first check with them whether they can match the terms laid out in the second contract before revoking your acceptance of employment.

Act Swiftly and Politely

Once you’ve decided to renege on the acceptance of the job offer, you should act swiftly. The sooner you let the company know about your intentions, the better the chances that they will let you go without any unpleasantness. If you change your mind within a few days of the acceptance of the offer, the company will probably still have a list of your competitors at hand, which will enable them to find a replacement without too much effort or cost.

Also, ensure that you remain polite and respectful throughout the process. The company showed you goodwill by providing you with an offer of employment. The least you can do is show your gratitude and provide them with a sound reason for rescinding your agreement.

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About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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