Students are getting lots of job offers…
Reneging: Once you commit, quit!
In U.S., 28% accepted a job offer & reneged! 70% of grads are willing to renege?
See more alarming stats in the comments section.

Sometimes students (& even working professionals) accept internships/jobs, but continue to search for & accept other positions with other employers. This is reneging, a practice that is unethical & greatly frowned upon for our students.

What is reneging?
As noted, reneging is going back on a promise made. In other words, it is promising one thing & then pulling the promise back & not keeping your word. In the context of job searching, this means that you have given your word (verbally or written) that you have accepted a position, then at later date, pull out of the agreement. This unsavory practice has major ramifications.

How to buy time to decide?
Take your time. Can you ask for time to think about the offer? Yes, you can. However, understand that there are limits. Can you have weeks to think about it? No. A few days? Sure.

Why does it matter?
Reneging has a substantial negative impact to many different groups. Each is highlighted below.

1: YOU!
The job search and commitment to the firm is likely one of the first major acts of your professional career. If you renege on your commitment, you are likely putting your own personal brand in jeopardy.

2: The University
Ultimately, one student’s poor decision will reflect upon the entire University. On the negative side, if an employer suffers from students reneging, they will quickly stop looking at your school as a source for future students.

3: The employer
The practice of reneging likely seems like an act that has little impact. That is wrong. The employer that you have originally committed to has invested considerable resources into recruiting you. Further, if you renege on the company, it now has to scramble and try to fill your position with someone else.

When you renege on an offer, you have harmed your own brand. This is something that can potentially follow you throughout your career. Further, there could be internal penalties.
If you accept a job offer, both verbally and in writing, stop searching for other positions. You should also contact any firms that you have been in discussions with and let them know you are officially off of the job market.

If you have a dilemma, please reach out to faculty. Any of them will be happy to help regarding your situation and can provide guidance.

Finally, please keep the following in mind for your job search:
·      Have fun – finding and recruiting can and should be fun!
·      Once you commit, quit! In other words, once you give your word, you are off the market.

Milkround’s research showed that more than half (53%) of internships result in job offers, but 72% of the people who received an offer from their internship declined it.

One employer shared that they typically see four to five percent renege but this year that has jumped to more than eight percent.

In the United States, 17.3 percent of job offers—over 1 in 6—are rejected, according to Glassdoor data, reflecting a steady increase in offer rejection rates over the last few years at a time of growing competition for talent.

As many as 28% of candidates said they accepted a job offer but then backed out, a new Robert Half survey found. 
The reasons candidates gave for reneging on a job offer were: received a better job offer (44%); received an acceptable counteroffer from a current employer (27%); and heard bad things about the company that made the offer (19%).
The top five locations where most candidates reneged on job offers were San Diego; San Francisco; Chicago and Houston (tied for third place); Austin, Texas; and Miami, according to survey results.

70% of graduates are willing to renege on a job offer they’ve accepted
30% said they’ve already done so
Over a third (34%) of graduates have declined a job offer
Nearly three-quarters (70%) of graduates are willing to back out of a job offer they’ve accepted, with three out of 10 (30%) stating they’ve already done so, according to research by student and graduate careers resource Milkround.

Regening on job offers
Amongst those graduates that have reneged on a job offer, around six out of 10 (64%) claimed that they did this because they didn’t know how to decline. Around two out of 10 (22%) said they did this because they received a better offer elsewhere, while just one out of 10 (9%) changed their mind (Milkround).


Feedback from people in the real world:

Scott Cowley 1st degree connection1stDigital Marketing Professor & Researcher


An alternative take: I’ve seen some students end up in very unsatisfying job situations, strictly because they felt that reneging was violating a serious moral code. So what’s the moral difference between reneging before a job starts vs. jumping ship shortly after starting the job? The first case is much less costly for the company.

Let’s consider what companies should be doing in the era of reneging (i.e., better understanding the market and why candidates choose to renege, leaving the door open to 2nd choice candidates to easily replace those who renege, etc.). How many times do companies pull job offers from candidates after having made an offer and having it accepted? I have to think that this practice does far more brand harm to a company than any career harm that is likely to follow an individual for reneging on a particular job offer.

I understand the reputational harm you feel may come to the school/program because of students that renege, but that seems like more of an empirical question–a good one worth researching. Also interesting would be whether there are differences in reneging behavior between schools and what might cause that.


Kevin Boyer 1st degree connection1stAssociate Director of Consulting and CPG at Adept Group (Adept Packaging)

There are currently a lot of open roles out there and it is also exposing those companies with slow processes – such as taking 3 months and 10 steps to get an offer. If there is a good candidate don’t wait because when you extend the offer they may already have taken one. Another point would be to pick your boss not just the company. Being in a company where others see your value while your direct and indirect leaders are also pushing your growth is a major win for any role one might take.


James Eckert 1st degree connection1stPassionate Sales Educator and the Robert S. Kaiser Professor of Sales at Western Michigan University

It’s a difficult situation and it arises more now because a) companies are pushing quickly to make job offers and putting pressure on candidates to say yes quickly because they obviously have many roles to fill, and b) the students have options and they have invested heavily in their own future and want to look at all of those options before they have to make a decision.

So when they feel the pressure to make a decision quickly they make that decision but consider it temporary.

It’s a very American cultural situation that we consider the changing of our minds related to a job to be classified as something negative like reneging. Cultures with more long-term orientation consider that any decision should be reconsidered as the circumstances change and there is nothing unethical about changing the parameters of a decision when the parameters of a environment change.

I don’t encourage students to accept and then reneg, however I always tell them their first loyalty needs to be to themselves and a decision that is best for them. It is what the company will do every time.


Michael Jacobus 1st degree connection1stLeader, trainer, & project manager with over 20 years of critical decision making, mentoring, and management.

I walked away from an offer, before I signed anything because I felt like I was mislead. I understand that starting a new career in ISM means working for less than I had earned in the past. My skill sets outside of supply chain can be leveraged by anyone I work for, but I will expect appropriate compensation.
Tell me your interest in me is because I can fill two positions, but want me to work for the lower compensation package of the two roles is a red flag.

Try to make me feel guilty for wanting more than the single positions compensation after you tell me I am valuable to you because I have skills to fill two positions, second red flag.

Dennis Leskowski 1st degree connection1stSenior Managing Consultant, Life Sciences & Medical Devices Digital

I agree, Sime. Turning your back on a promise is not appropriate.

The *only* scenario where changing your mind is appropriate is when you discover new information during the onboarding process that surfaces that the company is unethical or work environment is toxic. Years ago, I once did it due to how poorly I was already being treated before I started during the onboarding process. When I called the HR manager to renege, the corporate toxicity manifested itself with a 15 minute insulting barrage from the HR lead.

But aside from that one exception case, a promise made is a promise kept.


Jonathan Phares 1st degree connection1stI research policy and markets in supply chain and operations management contexts like healthcare, trucking, and beer.

This is not a one-sided issue. This is important advice for hiring companies as well. I’ve seen plenty of times where students and established professionals accept offers only to find the companies reneged on their offer due to issues unrelated to the candidate.

Duty and commitment should go both ways. Since they don’t, workers should always be connected to the market.


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