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Can You Renege on a Job Offer?

By | Lily Zhang |

Whether it’s FacebookPinterestthe NFL, or that cool boutique agency in your field, you probably have that one company you’d drop everything to work for.

And, typically, it’s not a big deal to move on from your company if the perfect opportunity comes up, especially if you’ve been in your current position for more than a year or two.

But what if that perfect job offer comes in before you even start your current job? What do you do if you’ve already confirmed you’ll start at another company—and then in waltzes “The One?”

Can you decline a job offer that you’ve already accepted?

This is a tough question, and unfortunately, there really isn’t a clear-cut answer. Sure, you can legally renege on a job offer—at-will employment means you can technically leave at the drop of a hat—but there’s much more to consider before you turn down one company for another.

Here are a few things to think about if you have a new offer—plus one smart way to make sure you’re never in the “should I or shouldn’t I?” situation ever again.

The Rule of Thumb

Consider this: The hiring process is long and hard, and once you’ve interviewed, been offered a job, and accepted, your future bosses are likely breathing a sigh of relief, high-fiving, and sending rejection letters to all of the other candidates.

So you can imagine how they’ll feel when they have to start the process all over again.

While you may think that you’ll never have to see these people again, the fact is that recruiters move around from company to company, so you have no idea how far your reputation will spread. The repercussions are impossible to measure, and while you may get lucky, you also might be irreversibly damaging your professional reputation. Not a risk you want to take.

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