Reneging on job offers (Don’t do it)

Reneging on job offers is often a touchy subject—but nevertheless it’s a topic that business students are often confused about. What does reneging even mean?

Renege (definition): To go back on a promise, undertaking or contract

Synonyms: default on, fail to honor, go back on, break, back out of, withdraw from, retreat from, etc.

Sounds pretty serious, right? It is. As a Fisher business student, you will be developing a lot of relationships with peers, faculty, staff, and employer representatives. Along the way you will start to develop your “personal brand”—the unique set of characteristics that distinguish you from other job seekers. One of the characteristics of successful business people is having integrity. Loyalty, reliability, and honesty are all hallmarks of some of the most successful leaders in the world. If you want to start you career off on the right foot by gaining the respect of employers, reneging on a job offer is a situation you do not want to find yourself in.

It is very important that as you begin your internship or full-time job search, you manage your offers professionally. A verbal or written acceptance of an offer of employment is considered a commitment. It is never permissible to accept a job offer (either verbal or written) and later decline. This can get you into serious trouble! Not only will you lose the respect of the company, but you are harming your reputation (personal brand) as a job candidate.

The best way to prevent the possibility of having to renege on an offer is to always openly communicate with employers about your current job search. If you receive a job offer, but you are still waiting to hear back from other companies, it is almost always appropriate to ask for a deadline extension. Most companies are aware that you are probably looking at other employment opportunities, so they will not be surprised if you ask for more time to decide. If the company truly wants you to work there, they will accommodate your request.

Here is an example situation: Let’s say that you interviewed with Company A on October 12th and Company B on October 15th. Company A is your top choice, and Company B is your second choice. Company B really liked you, and they promptly made you an offer on October 16th and asked for a decision by October 23rd. You still have not heard back from Company A, your first choice, although they told you that you would know by October 27th.  The most appropriate way to handle this situation is to tell Company B about your status. You could say,

“Thank you so much for the offer. I am definitely considering your offer; however, I am currently in the process of interviewing with another company and would like to follow through with their process. I should hear back from them by October 27th. It would really help me to make the best decision if I could have an extension on accepting your offer. Could I have until November 1st to give you my decision?”

Asking for an extension this way accomplishes 2 things:

1) You are being honest and open with the company about your situation, thereby promoting integrity in your relationship with the company

2) If the company agrees to your new deadline, you have given yourself the opportunity to evaluate both job offers, if you receive an offer from Company A

In most cases, the company will agree to your terms. During fall recruiting season, the Office of Career Management encourages all companies to give students an acceptance deadline of November 1st, or four weeks from the time of the offer (whichever date comes later). In the spring, we recommend 2 weeks in order to give students adequate time to truly consider the offer.

Not only does reneging hurt your reputation, but it also can come with some pretty serious consequences! If it is determined that you have reneged on either an internship or career position offer, you will be asked to meet with one of our full-time staff members in Career Management to discuss your situation. Depending on your situation, consequences could include: your writing of a letter of apology, your access to FisherConnect being discontinued, and/or your access to services as an alum being denied.

If you find yourself in a situation with multiple job offers, it would be very helpful to you to meet with a Career Consultant in our office to discuss the offers and how to manage deadlines, so that you can make good decisions and not violate any policies. Simply call our office at 614-292-6024 to schedule an appointment. We are here to help you in any way we can!

For more info, check out this blog about an employer’s perspective when students renege on an offer:



Audrey Bledsoe

Audrey Bledsoe is the Assistant Director for Undergraduate Career Services and Education at the Fisher College of Business.

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