There are many factors to consider before you accept a job offer.  Location, working arrangements, and salary are all points we should have a clear idea about before we say “Yes” when we are offered a job. Sometimes, of course, situations change, and other opportunities may present themselves.

It could be that you accept because you feel under pressure to decide right away. Here is our advice on how to stall a job offer.

If, after further consideration, you believe your decision to have been made in haste, you need to be armed with the tools to return to the hiring manager and turn down the offer.

You may think you are locked in and committed to your decision, but luckily this isn’t the case.

Young female bites down on her pencil in frustration

Here are some tips on how you can reverse your decision once you have accepted a new job.

Get legal advice.

If your acceptance has gone beyond a verbal acceptance and you have signed and returned your new contract it may be a good idea to seek legal advice.

Often contracts don’t include specific clauses about cooling-off periods. But just in case, go over it with a detailed eye.  Sometimes depending upon role and seniority you will have had access to confidential information, so to protect your own interests it may be wise to seek reassurance from a legal standpoint.

Turn down the job as soon as possible.

If you try to avoid the situation by ghosting the recruiter or hiring manager, you will damage your reputation.

You must prioritise your integrity and have the conversation, no matter how difficult you anticipate it to be.

It’s important to acknowledge that hiring for a role takes a lot of time, money, and resource. You need to respect this and let the employer know you have changed your mind as soon as possible.  It could be that they haven’t informed the unsuccessful candidates yet. In which case, there are still quick wins to be made.


Of course, you could send an email, but when you are turning down a job offer after you’ve already said yes, this form of communication isn’t acceptable.  The best practice is that you should pick up the phone to explain and apologise personally.

You will be in a far better position to explain properly this way, and the recruiter or hiring manager will appreciate your courage and respect.

Always be polite.

By far the best way to deal with turning down a job offer after you’ve accepted is to be courteous and polite.

You should always be positive and avoid language that could be construed as disrespectful of the organisation or unappreciative of the offer.

You should stick to honest and concise explanations of why you now need to turn down the job offer.  If you’ve had to rethink due to family commitments or a sudden change in circumstances, then this is an easier conversation to have. However, even in more difficult situations, honesty is the best policy. We would recommend taking the same approach if you have received an alternative offer with a higher salary, or with a competitor for example.

Networks are small, and a quick glance at your LinkedIn profile will reveal the truth.  It is always best to be honest.

Know your boundaries.

If you are now turning down the offer because you have been offered a role with a higher salary elsewhere or with better benefits you should decide what your parameters are before you pick up the phone.  What if the organisation comes back with a counteroffer, matches the salary, or could now offer 100% remote working?  How would these things affect your decision?

You should know your boundaries and if you are still unsure, ask for some time to think. Changing your mind once is one thing, but repeated flakiness will damage your reputation.

Express thanks.

Find a moment in the conversation to thank the hiring manager for the opportunity, to learn about the role and the company.  If you have been impressed with the hiring process and the candidate experience, say so.

You should also be appreciative that you were offered the role, and suggest you keep in touch. This way, you will learn about any future roles that may be more suitable and will confirm your ongoing interest in the company.

In sum.

We would recommend that you be careful in your considerations before you accept a job role.  It’s exciting and flattering to be offered a new job, but once you have said yes to a job offer it’s awkward for all involved to have to turn it down.

If you need help here, we can help. Here is our recent blog offering advice on the 10 questions you should ask yourself before you accept a job role.

Of course, you are allowed to change your mind. And although inconvenient, your new employer would rather you were honest than follow through with the offer only to resign to leave shortly afterward.

When you are having to turn down a job offer after saying yes, there are ways to behave professionally and respectfully. Following these tips will ensure that you retain both your integrity and professional reputation.

About the author: I work hard to find the best opportunities for my candidates and the best talent for my clients. My honest and pragmatic approach helps me to build lasting relationships and deliver real value.  I have extensive experience helping organisations overcome their critical challenges in the digital environment, and have worked with everything from start-ups to major global brands.

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