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How to Rescind That Accepted Job Offer

February 15, 2020

Over the past week, we have had a couple of law firms tell us about their frustrations of having someone accept a position at their firm, only to rescind their acceptance a week prior to starting. 

I can understand the firm’s frustration.  There is a lot of preparation that happens before a new hire joins a firm. Computers are set up, training is coordinated, internal conversations take place, schedules are re-arranged, etc.  Not to mention, after you have accepted your offer, your new firm has stopped considering other applicants.  That means that if you then rescind your offer, the firm has lost out on not only time and money, but also all the other candidates they were considering as those ones have most likely moved on and are off the market. 

But, at the same time, I can understand things from the Candidate’s perspective.  Life happens, people change their minds, and new opportunities arise and ultimately you the candidate, needs to make the best long-term decision for yourself. 

However, the legal community is small, people change firms and you do not want to burn a bridge and have it follow you.  So, how you rescind your offer is important!  If the situation arises, you should:

  1. Let the firm know as soon as you have made up your mind. Don’t wait until the last minute. 
  2. Give the firm the courtesy of knowing why you are rescinding the offer.  Now, you don’t need to get into the specifics of your “Why”, but you should give a reason.  They have just invested time and money preparing for your start.  The firm’s initial reaction will be to see if there is anything they can do to change your mind.  Further, the firm will wonder if it was something about them that caused the change of mind.  Is there anything they need to change moving forward, so this doesn’t happen again? They just need some closure. 

While we are on this topic, we also have candidates sometimes ask us why their new employer wants to know if they have handed in their resignation yet.  They tell us, that they have signed the offer letter, indicating they are coming on board, why does it matter when they resign. 

The firm wants to know you are fully committed to making the move.  Yes, you have signed the offer, but you still need to successfully resign. When you are leaving one job for another, a two-step process is involved.  The firm will want to know this for a) peace of mind, but b) they will also want to know that you are fully committed before investing the time and money in preparing for your start.   

So, if you do need to rescind your acceptance, make sure that at the very least you take these 2 steps. 

Thanks for reading!  If you have any questions about this or any other job or interview topics, be sure to contact us.

Happy Job Hunting and Good Luck!

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