Have you accepted a job offer only to realise you shouldn't have? Changing your mind about starting a new role can happen for a number of reasons. You might encounter a sudden change in personal circumstances or perhaps you’ve realised the job just isn't right for you.
If you're a skilled and experienced professional, it's also possible that you have more than one job offer on the table or you have found a more enticing opportunity you want to pursue.
Although it's natural to feel awkward about declining a job offer you've just accepted, it's important to know how to handle this kind of situation. After all, it’s better to step away from the situation now rather than going ahead with the role and resigning within the first few months.
If you're looking for advice on how to back out of a job offer you’ve already accepted, we'll show you how to approach the situation professionally and with your reputation intact.
Have You Signed a Contract?
Before you notify anyone of your decision, be aware of your current employment status with the organisation. Have you already signed an employment contract? If so, you might be required to give notice. If you have verbally accepted a role but haven’t signed a contract, you can simply tell the employer that you have changed your mind.
If your change of mind is related to some element of the employment contract, there’s still an opportunity to raise your concerns and give your new employer a chance to address the issue. In these situations, clear communication can avoid major misunderstandings.
Think it Through Carefully, But Act Quickly
Changing your mind about a job offer can turn out to be a major life decision, so it's important to be sure about why you don't want the role anymore.
If you're still making your mind up, weigh up all the positive and negative factors to ensure you're certain about your decision before taking action. Also consider what the company means to you in the long-term, as declining the offer at this stage may affect your future chances with them.
Once you have decided on your next move, don't delay in advising the company of your decision. Remember, an employer will appreciate knowing as early as possible that you are declining their offer, rather than spend time and money onboarding someone who won't stay for long.
Be Considerate and Show Gratitude
Telling an employer you've changed your mind about a job offer can be a tense situation, but a courteous approach will help make it less uncomfortable. To communicate your decision, it's ideal to make a phone call first so you can briefly explain your decision and offer a sincere apology. Follow up on the call with an email to confirm your decision in writing.
Remember to thank the employer and show them your gratitude for the offer they made. If you cross paths with the organisation or hiring manager in the future, it's better to have shown professionalism in these circumstances.
Provide Just Enough Detail
Part of handling this situation professionally is giving the employer a brief explanation about why you've changed your mind so they're not left in the dark. However, you'll want to avoid sharing any more detail than is necessary. Oversharing can be a pitfall when having this conversation on the phone, so be aware of any temptation to start talking too much.
State your decision clearly at the start of the conversation and then provide a short explanation. It's okay to give a general explanation without going into explicit detail.
Be Ready to Stand Firm
The employer might try to upsize some element of the job offer, particularly if a hiring manager sees that you are fielding a competing job offer. Be ready to stand your ground when an employer tries to negotiate and convince you to reconsider if you’ve made the decision to withdraw.
Understand your 'red lines' and what elements of a job offer will make or break it for you. Would a bigger salary clinch the deal? Flexible hours? Specific perks? If you decide to negotiate a counteroffer, do keep the hiring manager's perspective in mind – their initial eagerness to hire you might diminish somewhat during a counteroffer process.
When you're about to turn down a job offer you've already accepted, handling the situation with tact and grace is recommended. Ensure you communicate your intentions in a timely and courteous manner and that you're sure about why you're declining the offer. If you've already signed an employment agreement, check the fine print before you decide to back out.
If you're declining an offer because you've had a change of mind, treat this situation as a learning experience for future job applications. Enlisting a recruiter to help you find your next role will remove the hassle from the process and provide you with a trusted advisor to steer you through the job offer process. Get in touch with our Sydney recruitment agency to take the next step in your career.