Accepting an offer
It is common, these days, to accept T&Cs without reading them – read every line of any contract you sign with a recruiter – some firms promise an expensive training that must be repaid by the graduate if they leave within, for example, two years. Some of these companies offer postings to remote geographies within the first two years putting graduates in a very difficult position. We wish this were not the case, this practice is disrespectful but not illegal, the only way to protect yourself is to read the fine print.
Write to thank the person making you the offer, mentioning any reference number they have given you and enclosing any information that has been requested. You should also mention the date of the letter, and quote the full job title and the starting date, if stated. Don’t forget to say that you wish to accept the offer, and that you are looking forward to starting work with the organisation. Keep a copy of this letter/email, the contract or any other documents you have received as part of the offer. As the word ‘contract’ implies, if you accept the offer, you are making a legal undertaking. You should not accept a job with the intention of rejecting it later, if something ‘better’ turns up.
Declining an offer
If, after serious thought, you decide that the job is definitely not for you, contact the employer, ideally by telephone (confirming afterwards in writing) and politely let them know your decision. It’s worth remaining on good terms as you might find yourself working with or even applying to that organisation again at a later date. Try to inform them as soon as possible, so that they can offer the job to someone else.
Can I accept an offer and reject it later?
A contract is a legal document, and you should never sign such a document with the intention, however vague, of reneging on it at a later date. It is possible, although unlikely, that an employer may take action against you for breach of contract if you do so.
If you do find yourself in a position where you feel you would like to reject an offer that you have already accepted, you should let the employer know as soon as possible. Ideally speak to the relevant person/recruiter by telephone. Delay will only make the situation more difficult, as the organisation may wish to offer your place to another candidate. Be honest, and explain your reasons for now declining their offer. Organisations prefer to employ people who are genuinely motivated, and you may find that they will appreciate your honesty at this stage.
Bear in mind that recruiters at different firms talk to each other, companies might merge at some point in the future and human resources staff do move between companies. In other words, be polite and apologetic, and try to leave the organisation with a positive impression, you never know when you might come across these people again in your career!
Reneging on an offer is something to be avoided if at all possible. Our advice would be to talk to a careers adviser about the situation before taking action.