Articles From the Team

Five things to be wary of if you change your mind after accepting a job offer

The best way to describe the lead up to this predicament is the waiting for a bus analogy. You’re in a rush, you’re late for work (or to meet friends) and there are no buses to be seen – absolute nightmare! The next day, you’re sauntering down the same road to grab a coffee and five buses pass you by! What are the chances?! This is often the case when it comes to job interviews and job offers. You wait and wait and then they all come at once. So, what happens if you accept one job and then get another offer for a role you prefer? Or, what happens if you accept a job and then change your mind?

Turning down a job offer’s a big decision and there are arguments for and against. Below is a summary of five things to consider if you’re thinking about turning down an offer you’ve already accepted:

Burning your bridges

When you enter into a process with a potential new employer, you’ve both invested a lot of time and effort, even emotion. The employer’s bought into you and making you an offer their communicating: we want you on board. Equally, if you accept the offer, you’re telling them you want to be part of their At this level, you’ve entered into an emotional contract, and when emotion’s involved, reneging on your acceptance can leave a lasting negative impression.

People talk

Following from the above, the legal profession, like many professional communities, is pretty close-knit. People talk and firm partners will often know partners in other firms. You don’t want to garner a reputation for being a time waster or even worse, disingenuous.

Missed opportunity

There’s a reason you accepted the job in the first place. What was it? If it was because you thought it was a great opportunity, what’s changed? What if an opportunity like this didn’t come along again for another two years – how would that make you feel?


One of the most common reasons people change their mind after accepting a job offer is guilt. After handing in your notice your current employer gives you their best sales pitch and persuades you to stay. Out of guilt and loyalty, you stay put. But fast forward three months and nothing's really changed. You're back into your day-to-day routine and you start to feel restless again. All the reasons you looked for a new job in the first place remain and now you have to start the whole process again. Only this time, it's more difficult because you feel you're under the scrutiny of your boss who knows you were going to leave – the dynamics have changed and it can end up being quite stressful.

Waste of time and energy

Going through the process of job applications and interviews is time-consuming and involves a number of elements: online searches; speaking to recruitment consultants; updating your CV; various calls to discuss roles; interview preparation; attending interviews; possibly undertaking technical tests/preparing case studies or presentations; de-brief calls; discussing offers. On top of all that, you might have to take annual leave to attend interviews and/or manage the process alongside work. All of this adds up. It's a considerable investment of your time, money and emotions (interviews are emotionally taxing). So, to go through the whole process and get offered a job you accept, only to turn it down – for whatever reason – can feel like a waste of time and energy.

Related blogs

'What do I tell my recruiter if I’ve changed my mind after accepting a job offer?'

'Should you accept a job offer whilst holding out for another?'

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