Let’s start by identifying what accepting an offer of employment is NOT, which would be the equivalent of saying (and thinking) like the following:

“Yes, I accept your offer of employment, unless my current employer or some other company I’m interviewing with offers me something better, in which case I will take their offer instead.”

That is not accepting an offer.  Unfortunately, many candidates have adopted this frame of mind when deciding whether or not to accept an offer from a prospective employer.

The purpose of this article is to illustrate, in no uncertain terms, what it really means to accept an offer of employment.

Remember first and foremost that you are under no pressure to accept an offer of employment.  You can always turn it down.  You are absolutely within your right to do so.

However, it’s important that if you accept an offer, you realize that you’re giving your word that you’re actually accepting it and not just doing so to “keep your options open.”  After all, how would you feel if the company president said they wanted to hire you, but later changed their mind after they found somebody who had more to offer?

So . . . what does it really mean to accept an offer of employment?  In a nutshell, it means making a commitment to the company that extended the offer and then keeping that commitment.  In other words, do not make the commitment if you aren’t 100% sure that you can keep the commitment.

To illustrate exactly what this means, if you accept an offer, you should be willing to do the following things:

  1. Contact all of the other companies with which you are interviewing and inform them that you have accepted an offer and are withdrawing from their process.
  2. Turn down a counter-offer if one is made by your current employer, no matter how attractive it might be and how much you want to accept it.
  3. Show up for your first day of work (and every day thereafter).

That’s what it means to make a commitment and then keep it.  If you are not willing to do all three of the items listed above, then don’t accept the offer.  That’s perfectly okay.

In fact, if the thought of these items make you that uncomfortable, it’s better for everyone involved if you don’t accept it—and that includes you.  If you give your word by accepting an offer and then you don’t keep your word, you’ve branded yourself as untrustworthy, and you never know when that might come back to bite you.

Accepting an offer of employment is a commitment . . . a commitment that you’re making to your new employer.

Ultimately, the answer is simple: don’t make a commitment you can’t keep.