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Posted April 26, 2019 by

What are the consequences to students who renege on job offers?

I’ve been participating in an interesting discussion in a listserv managed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Most of the readers are talent acquisition leaders from Fortune 1,000 and other large employers and college career service office professionals. A small percentage of readers are like me in that they work for organizations which, in one way or another, help college and university students and recent graduates find great careers.

The discussion that prompted me to write this blog article is about whether employers should report to a career service office that a student who accepted a job offer later reneged on that offer. One employer volunteered that they do send lists of those reneges to the career service offices. I wonder if that employer and others like them are providing any context provided to the reasons for the student reneging on the offer or any opportunity provided to them to provide the context.

Let’s be honest, sometimes the student reneges on their employment-at-will relationship because they change their mind and we can point a finger at them as the party to blame, if there is a need to assign blame. But what if an objective, third-party would actually point to the employer? Reasons are numerous, such as when employers oversell the opportunity, materially change the compensation or position, the hiring manager is terminated or reassigned, a family emergency prevents the student from starting, the employer pivots or even eliminates the business unit that recruited the student, the economy very suddenly and very dramatically changes as it did in 2008, etc. 

Realistically, if an employer is going to report student reneges to the career service office, what do we expect the career service office to do with that information? Wouldn’t it make sense that there would be negative repercussions to the student, and are we trying to help that student or are we trying to punish them and dissuade future students from reneging, much like imprisoning criminals punish the perpetrator and, perhaps, dissuade others from committing the same crime. Do we want to model our college and university recruitment programs on the criminal justice system?

For the career service offices who are accepting the renege information from the employers and maybe even soliciting it, are you doing the same from the candidates? What about employers who renege on their offers? If you’re punishing the student in some way such as banning them from further use of your services, are you levying the same punishments against the employers?