Do Today’s Job Candidates Have a Commitment Problem?

So, you’ve finally filled that hard-to-fill position, and now you can rest easy for a little bit. Or maybe you can’t: New data from Robert Half reveals that 28% of professionals say they’ve backed out of a job offer after accepting.


The top reasons, according to the Robert Half survey of 2,800 workers in 28 major cities, include “Received a better offer from another company” (44%), “Received a convincing counteroffer from current employer” (27%) and “Heard bad things about the company after accepting” (19%).

The survey finds that the top cities where job seekers commonly back out are San Diego at No. 1, followed by San Francisco, Chicago and Houston (tied), Austin and Miami.

Having cold feet after accepting a job offer is understandable; however, ghosting an employer is unacceptable, as Robert Half’s Paul McDonald counsels job seekers.

“Even though it may seem easier to avoid an awkward situation, transparency is always the best policy during a job search,” says McDonald, senior executive director. “If you have a change of heart after accepting a position, be honest with the hiring manager.”

Data from elsewhere suggests that post-acceptance regrets by job seekers may be justified. A Gartner study from last year found that 40% of Generation Z employees would not repeat their decision to accept the job offer for their current position, and only 51% could see themselves having a long career at their organization.

Organizations need to better understand what Gen Z candidates want, says Lauren Smith, vice president of Gartner’s HR practice.

Data from Gartner’s Global Labor Market Survey found that in 2018, 23% of Gen Z candidates listed development opportunities as a top attraction driver, compared with only 17% of their millennial predecessors in 2013.

Flexibility is also vitally important, she says.

“With this latest crop of workforce entrants, we are seeing an increased focus on work-life integration and the ability to pursue interests simultaneously both in and out of the workplace,” says Smith.

Gen Z candidates also differ from their millennial predecessors on seeking a defined career path. According to data from the Global Labor Market Survey, in 2018, only 25% of Gen Z candidates listed future career opportunities as a top attraction driver when considering a job, whereas in 2014, 34% of millennials chose that as a top attraction driver.

“Given that today’s graduates are focused on learning and developing skills, employers looking to gain a career commitment from their Gen Z employees must ensure they offer these opportunities,” says Smith.

Andrew R. McIlvaine
Andrew R. McIlvaine is former senior editor with Human Resource Executive®.