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Reneging Part II: How Can I Avoid It?

So now that we’ve covered the downsides of reneging, let’s discuss strategies for prevention.  The key to avoiding a reneging situation is to not accept an offer without carefully thinking it through.  Consider doing the following:

  1. Avoid giving an immediate answer.  Avoid making a decision on the spot.  When the company representative calls with the happy news that they are extending an offer to you, you should thank them, express interest/excitement about the opportunity, and state that you look forward to receiving the formal offer in writing.  You should also ask them what the timeframe by which you need to decide is—so that you know the span of time you are working with. 
  2. Determine if you have enough time to decide.  Is the amount of time the employer allotted your decision making process adequate for you?  Do you want to have ECS review your offer?  Or show it to your family member(s) to gather their opinions?  You probably want to research wage/salary data, compare cost of living, and look into housing as well.  Perhaps you want to follow-up with other companies who had interviewed you.  These things take time.  The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) recommend that a student have a minimum of three weeks to make a job decision.  In NACE’s Principles Committee Position Paper on Exploding Offers, it was determined that “students given sufficient time are less likely to renege on job acceptances.” 
  3. Ask for a deadline extension ASAP.  Contact the person who made the offer, and request more time to evaluate the prospect.   If you are following up on other opportunities, that’s not worth mentioning to the employer—in fact it will probably work against you.  (Liken this to the dating world.  Someone tells you they want to be exclusive—yet you ask if you can explore your other options first, then get back to them.  Likely not going to happen!)  Let the employer know that while you are so excited to have the offer, with classes, midterms, projects, etc.—you really want to have time to delve into the offer and be sure it’s a great fit.  You want to make the right decision not only for yourself—but also for your future employer.  Have an idea of how much extra time you need—then ask for it…knowing that they may not give you all of that, may meet you in the middle, or may decide to stick to the original decision date.  Let ECS know if your offer deadline seems unreasonable.  We may be able to work with the company to provide more time. 
  4. Wrap up loose ends with all other employment options.  For all of the companies you have interviewed with—and are very serious about—contact them, and let them know that you are still interested in them, but that you are now working within a tight deadline.  Don’t come off as presumptuous that you are going to get an offer from them, but let them know that you are still interested and ask what your current position is. 
  5. Gather information still needed to decide on the offer.  Resources like Glassdoor.com, the ECS Student Evaluations (of engineering work experience—available in ECS), and salary/wage data can be very helpful.  Feel free to also ask the company representative you have been in contact with any final questions so that you can make your decision.    
  6. Get back to the employer by the agreed upon deadline.  Exercise professionalism and get back to the company in a timely fashion.  If a situation arises where you feel the time granted to decide is too short and you are not ready to commit, be honest.  Let them know that while you are very interested in this opportunity, you feel that you cannot make a decision this quickly and ask if they will please keep you in mind for future opportunities.  You don’t want to put them in a position where you change your mind and burn that bridge forever.

The bottom line is that you have your integrity and professionalism to maintain; hopefully these tips will assist you in doing so.  ECS is here to help you with these tough decisions, so feel free to come into our office with any of your job offer concerns.  We can help you avoid reneging, and also provide support regarding deadline extension, offer evaluation, and salary negotiation.  

"If a decision-making process is flawed and dysfunctional, decisions will go awry."
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Carly Fiorina

About the author

Rachel Kaschner

Rachel Kaschner is the Assistant Director at Engineering Career Services.