I accepted a job offer over the phone and now a week later I have decided that
I do not want this position after all. I am supposed to start next Tuesday a
week from now. How do I go about declining this offer now?
The Career Doctor responds:
The most important rule is to tell the employer as soon as possible. Don’t fret
over the change too much. Just as with buying an expensive product we often
experience cognitive dissonance — sometimes referred to as buyer’s remorse –
where we will uneasy about whether we made the right choice. And if you feel that
strongly about the job or the employer not being a good fit for you then you need
to unaccept the offer.
The fastest way of course is to simply call the person who made you the offer
and tell him/her you had a change in heart and cannot now accept the offer. For
cowards like me I would write a polite letter (or email) to the hiring manager
expressing my appreciation in the job offer and in the confidence the company
saw in me thanking him/her personally for the time spent with me and then informing
him/her that I have to rescind my acceptance and decline the offer.
Whatever communications method you use you want to be sure to express your
appreciation and offer apologies for changing your mind. You can’t rebuild the lost
trust — at least not in the short-term — but taking this approach you are also not
completing blowing up the bridge.
Job-hunting is a small world and you just never know when someone from your past
is going to resurface with a later opportunity. So be gracious and be quick. The
sooner you can let the employer know of your new decision the better.
Finally just be certain that declining the offer is what you really want to do — because
once you reverse your decision you will not be able to go back and accept it again.
See our sample
letter for rescinding an accepted job offer.