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Posted May 29, 2019 by

Why are more students reneging on their job acceptances?

A recent discussion in a listserv moderated by the National Association of Colleges and Employers was about an upward trend that some employers are seeing in the number of candidates who are reneging on their acceptances for both internship and entry-level jobs. One employer shared that they typically see four to five percent renege but this year that has jumped to more than eight percent.

Another employer helpfully shared that they’re also seeing more reneges and speculated that students “seem to be accepting offers as a back-up plan and then continuing the recruiting process throughout the year”. That employer is getting a much higher number of reneges within a week of the scheduled start date, blamed the students, and expressed hope that career services would start counseling students more about why they should not renege on job offers.

A third employer confirmed that they too are seeing higher renege rates but offered the following ideas: “(1) it continues to be a hot job market, (2) more companies are putting focus effort on early career talent, and (3) rapidly advancing / evolving technologies for employers and students are bringing more awareness efficiency (arguably) to the campus recruiting market.”

Another factor that I suspect is playing a role in the increased percentage of candidate reneges is the very long-time — and sometimes increasingly long — between when the candidate first meets with the employer and receives a job offer until the date when they actually start work.

It wasn’t all that long ago when the bulk of on-campus recruiting was late September through mid-November with offers taking weeks to be made. Now, it isn’t at all unusual to see employers interviewing at the beginning of September, making offers of employment in the interview room, and demanding a yes/no decision within days. Backed into a corner, a student would be irrational to decline this “bird in the hand” offer in favor of maybe getting a better offer days, weeks, or even months later a/k/a two in the bush.

Then, accepted offer in hand, some employers will essentially go radio silent and have little to no substantive contact with the student for months. Maybe the occasional email here or phone call there, but the intensity of the relationship goes from passionate to what is minimally required, and sometimes even less. Is it any wonder that the student loses their excitement and is open to reconsidering their acceptance?

To the employers who are frustrated by the reneges, let’s get creative about the entire process. What is within your control? Does your recruiting cycle really need to be driven by a fall/winter schedule that has existed since the 1950’s? Would it make more sense to look at alternative means to engage with, extend offers to, and continue to engage with students? 

Put another way, if an epidemic or other such natural or even manmade disaster were to prevent your team from flying out to college campuses around the country, how else could you recruit your next generation of leaders? Maybe look at those contingency plans — or create some — and then put them into place on a pilot basis. Maybe, just maybe, some of those contingency plans will deliver better candidates faster and for less money than the process many organizations have followed since “I like Ike” was a commonly heard campaign slogan.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia and author, Barnellbe.

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?