How committed should you be to a job offer?

November 06, 2019

By Elizabeth Connelly, Vice President

A while back, I worked with a senior-level candidate who signed a great job offer that even accommodated their vacation plans.  The hiring manager set them up in their system, prepared their desk and sent out an orientation package, excited about this new addition to the team.  The day before the start date we received an email from the candidate saying that the location of the company wasn’t ideal and they were no longer interested in the position.  Meanwhile they accepted another job proposition.

With the unemployment rate in Canada being at its all-time low, multiple offers are the reality of a candidate driven market where jobs are a plenty.  When you accept an offer with one company and receive a second, more favourable proposal from another employer, what is the right thing to do? 

This is an ethical dilemma that many professionals face throughout their careers and while it is not illegal to change your mind, how you choose to navigate through this sticky situation will affect your reputation and even future prospects.  Here are some helpful tips, crafted by our experienced team of recruiters, to guide you:

Consider the Job Offer Carefully

An opportunity might seem right at the moment, but don’t be spontaneous with your decision.  Before accepting any offer, carefully consider all aspects of the job such as location, compensation, benefits, and company culture.  Asking for some time (although not too much time) to consider the opportunity is perfectly alright and in fact demonstrates maturity in your decision making process. 

Be Transparent

Employers will appreciate your honesty.  Whether there are other opportunities you are waiting to hear about or whether you have certain hesitations about the offer, it is important to communicate this information, ideally before you sign any agreements.  Keep in mind that hiring is a human process and by being upfront about your change of heart, and less transactional about it, you leave room for understanding. 

Handle it with Tact

If you must rescind on an offer, be prepared for some not so favourable responses.  Hiring managers and recruiters put a lot of effort into finding the right candidate and your unexpected offer withdrawal may result in lost business and certainly more work for them.  Show that you value their time and effort by informing them of your decision as soon as possible rather than leaving it to the last minute.  Be courteous, apologetic and cite valid reasons for your change of mind.  Own up to your mistake.

Being in the staffing and recruitment business, I often discourage candidates from going back on their word.  If your decision wasn’t made lightly, after all, there is something about this offer that prompted you to say yes.  The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

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