Thumbs down as contract is ripped apartWith last month’s unemployment rate at 7.8 percent, it doesn’t seem likely that anyone in this economy would turn down a job offer, especially after already accepting the position. Yet, that is not the case. I’ve encountered many professionals (including those in prominent media outlets and Fortune 500 companies) who have advised me 1) you do not have to take the first job offer you receive 2) you are free to change your mind and 3) if you aren’t having fun in the position you’re working in, leave.

I was surprised by the number of times I heard this idea of “keeping your options open” when it came to finding a job, especially in today’s economy. Yet many people have this mindset. Most job seekers apply for multiple positions, so the possibility of having to make a final job decision is obvious. Yet, what about after you’ve been offered and have accepted the job? Although commonly viewed as unprofessional, many candidates “re-nig” and later decline a job offer they once accepted.

But why? Below are five reasons a candidate may change his or her mind and reject a position even after once accepting it. These are also areas recruiters should evaluate in their hiring process to ensure these post-acceptance job rejections do not occur again in the future.

Counter Offer

This is the first and most common reason a job candidate will later decline a job offer after previously accepting it. Many job seekers will be interviewing with multiple companies at one time. You may offer someone a position, but if another company offers them a better package—salary, benefits, vacations, flexibility—the candidate will soon be calling or sending you a decline email. To avoid this, probe job candidates during interviews to determine whether or not they are actively job searching or interviewing.

Setup a policy that says once a candidate accepts an offer with your company, he or she either agrees to not accept employment with another company or the candidate has a set number of days to decide before the offer is removed. Be sure to explain that the company’s acceptance policy doesn’t mean employees cannot work at another job e.g. a part-time or weekend job, but it does mean accepting a full-time offer at your company directly after the hiring process means the candidate agrees to reject all other full-time offers he or she may have been considering. Explain how much time interviewing and selecting candidates takes and that the policy is to reduce wasted time for both the employer and candidate.

Starting Salary Too Low

Perhaps a candidate accepted a position with a company knowing his or her future salary. Then, almost immediately, his or her financial situation changes e.g. losing a home, car, spouse losing a job, etc. The individual initially thought the new role’s salary would suffice, but now it just won’t be enough; therefore, the person reverses his or her initial acceptance. If this happens, go over pay increases and dates to ensure the candidate the salary won’t always be at its current level. Advise him or her of any overtime or bonus opportunities.

Wrong Title

Although this may seem trivial, it can mean a lot to most job seekers. For example, having the title of writer versus editor for a company could drastically affect a person’s career advancement. If a candidate is unhappy with the title, talk with him or her about adjusting it, if possible.

Unrelated Job Duties

Some job ads are vague when it comes to the duties and requirements. Even after going through a lengthy interview process, candidates may still be unsure if a position is a true match, but they may still accept the job to work in a certain company, field or simply to earn an income. Yet, after seriously studying the details of his or her future role, a candidate may back out.

To avoid this, when interviewing someone, ask about his or her interests and career goals. Ask about the person’s dream job and his or her reasoning for applying for that very specific position. Get as many specifics as possible while simultaneously being specific about the duties of the position.

Corporate Culture

Sometimes an individual will truly love and desire to fulfill a vacant position, but get turned off by a company’s culture. Always be professional and personable. Provide tours of facilities during interviews, and if possible, allow candidates to meet with a few key people in the company. Give applicants as much view and experience of the company as possible to ensure its culture aligns with the work environment a candidate desires to be in.

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