How to re-approach a job offer once you’ve turned it down.

This had happened to some of us before. We attended the interviews with much enthusiasm but only to reject the job offer with MUCH regret later. Can we re-approach a job offer once we’ve turned it down?

A common problem people have, especially in a recession like this, is a bit of overconfidence in their prospects for new jobs. Its often difficult to remember that you’re going to be overqualified if unemployment is high, because EVERYONE is overqualified! Sometimes, you might turn down a job, but soon find that really ought to have taken it after all. In this article, we’ll go over the process of reapplication, and give you some tips to maximize the chance that the firm at which you applied will still be interested.

This situation can cause a lot of anxiety. It can be embarrassing to go back on your word, especially if you’re the sort of person who takes pride on thinking things through. It also sends a mixed message to a potential employer, as if you’re saying ‘I’ll take it, but but I’ll check my enthusiasm at the door.’ Alleviate this anxiety by considering the employer’s perspective: its better to have an employee who isn’t afraid to adapt to a changing world, than to have one who blindly accepts any fortune to come their way. Identifying these social pitfalls will help you to avoid falling to far in to them when it comes time to re-apply.

 A friend once interviewed at a consulting firm that provides direct marketing services to Fortune 100 companies. She felt that direct marketing, also known as ‘door-to-door sales’ was an uncomfortable idea. She felt as if peddling wares to people who weren’t expecting her was a moral outrage. Her response was to turn the job down when it was offered, because she didn’t know if she could really do it effectively. But she returned a week later, and expressed that she really didn’t know about the situation, because she had never put herself in to one like it before then.


When she went in to re-apply, she said to the Manager, that she needed to treat it as a learning experience. The Manager recognized that she had turned down the job for a specific reason, and she addressed how she had adapted herself to fit the job. The manager said “I believe in second chances, because learning from mistakes makes them worthwhile, and is the advantage we humans have.” My friend found that turning her apprehension in to an opportunity to learn had made that job more exhilarating than any other she had held. It was taking the step past realizing her mistake, and expressing an honest desire to learn, that turned it from a mistake in to an opportunity.

You already know what mistake you’ve made. Now you have the opportunity to turn it in to something positive. There’s nothing to lose, and everything to gain. However, the strategy to approaching this opportunity is a little different than when you’re first applying with a firm. We’re past first impressions, so we need to cover the nitty-gritty of your second impression instead.

First, they already know what skills you have, and that tells them why you’re a good fit for the job. That’s why you were offered the position in the first place. Now you need to show them that you’re capable of improving on what you’ve already got. Be honest! Tell them why you turned the job down, and what has changed after you made that decision. They aren’t aware of the context of your decision, however, so bring them in on it. This will turn their impression of you from a sense of indecisiveness to a sense of thoughtfulness. It turns a potentially negative trait in to a positive one. The key to this tactic is the honesty. They know you messed up, they work there because they CHOSE to apply! In the very least, they’ll like their jobs, and at best they’ll love them. So by using this as an opportunity to uncover a personal fault, and at the same time fix it by becoming a member of their group, you’ll stand to make a few friends. Friends that can help you secure this new job hopefullu!

Secondly, you need to show the firm where you’re applying some sign that you’re a decisive person. Some people might turn down a job because they don’t want the responsibility, as opposed to finding something better that didn’t work out. Contact them as SOON as you figure out that you really should have taken the job. Speed is of the essence. Act with a sense of urgency, and you’ll incite others to the same.

Third, consider how jobs are created and filled. In modern times, most tasks are performed by machines. If there’s a job open, its somehow going to involve directly interfacing with other human beings. So the job is filled by creating a personal relationship with an applicant that the staff knows will work. You can use this to your advantage by limiting your initial contact to the person who had originally offered you the job. Bring them in on your life, and get them on your side. Try taking the person to lunch and explaining why you turned the job down, and why you’ve changed your mind. Above all others, this is the person who is most likely going to make the decision to hire you, so you need to be their friend.

Finally, you may bring a change in your life to the scene. Perhaps you turned down the job due to a move, a spouse’s job offer, or some other recent event. If things have changed, you stand a good chance of being hired. You’re showing yourself to be thoughtful, both rational in your decisions and sensitive to your impact on others. You can approach your potential employers by stating that you couldn’t give it your all to begin with, so you took care of the pressing matters and can now commit to the job 100%. That’s exactly the sort of committed attitudes employers looks for!

The greatest key to remember in all this is that you only have two options: try or don’t. Re-apply to the job, or just apply to others. Given that you can only succeed if you try, we both already know the rational choice! So take it. Pack your resume, march right in to the HR office, and admit that you made a mistake. Ask for the job. Be assertive and honest, and watch good things come your way!

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  • anil ,

    Good one.

    • Dano ,

      Sent an e-mail to an employer “who hired me” stating why I turned down the job down (contract obligations-deadlines The truth will set you free.. asked if I could be a member of there team, I set forth why I turned it down and now my obligations and commitments are full filled. I then about 5 day’s later received an e-mail
      from employer to meet with them again and yes they do have lot’s of work.

      I am so very pleased that I found this web site. Because it work’s..
      How To re-Approach a job offer once you’ve turned it down

      Thank you!

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