Quit a job you haven't started?
April 13, 2019 10:37 AM   Subscribe

I recently accepted a job starting in a month. I no longer wish to accept this position as taking it would mean moving to a new city, which I knew when I applied, and I now can not make the move. I need to write an email to quit the position I've accepted. What sort of things should my letter say or even a pointer to a appropriate form letter would be appreciated.

The job is in Canada for a government. I can't call because I have no phone service during business hours for the next two weeks and I'd probably melt down anyways even if I did.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
For personal reasons, you will no longer be able to relocate and take on the new role. Thank them for the opportunity, express regret that you won't be able to join them, and apologize for the inconvenience you've caused. I would keep the letter brief, and do it as quickly as possible, of course. The sooner you let them know the sooner they can try to fill with other candidates from their pipeline.
posted by ProtoStar at 10:51 AM on April 13 [7 favorites]

This sort of thing is best kept quite minimal.

Dear Hiring Manager,

Unfortunately, my personal circumstances have changed and I am no longer able to relocate to City Name in order to take the position you offered me as Job Title.

Please let me know if there is paperwork you need me to fill out in order to formally retract my acceptance of your offer.

I'm sorry I won't have the opportunity to work with Department/Organization name.


posted by jacquilynne at 10:52 AM on April 13 [23 favorites]

I like jacquilynne's script, though I would leave the relocating part out, and replace that line with:

"Unfortunately, my circumstances have changed and I am no longer able to take the position you offered me as Job Title. "
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 1:06 PM on April 13 [4 favorites]

You don't have to tell them anything but dropping out at this stage is often much more than a small inconvenience for those involved in hiring. If you feel comfortable explaining why you are no longer going (even as much information as no longer being able to relocate) that can help smooth things over a bit.
posted by grouse at 1:23 PM on April 13 [5 favorites]

I would include something related to personal circumstances having changed and also expressing your thanks for their time during the process.

If you have some sympathetic personal story that you feel comfortable sharing, that would reduce the extent of burnt bridges. But I understand if you cannot.
posted by salvia at 2:26 PM on April 13 [2 favorites]

I have nothing to add to the suggestions, but I will add that you seem to imply you feel bad about it. I wanted to say that I have heard of people just not showing up for work or vanishing on the second or third day without a word. You are being responsible and bowing out formally, so don't be hard on yourself. Things happen and people have second thoughts.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 3:50 PM on April 13 [1 favorite]

It happens, and it's better to have it happen now than after you've done expensive training, etc.

Gomez's line above is all you need to say. It's fine, but not necessary, to add a line about how you are sincerely sorry to not be getting to join them.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:42 PM on April 13

I specifically included the relocation bit so that it's clear that the problem is not the organization or the manager or the job, but the relocation. If anonymous is in a government hiring pool, they may be eligible for a lot of different jobs in the same classification and some of them might be where they are now.

I work for the federal government in Canada (not clear from the question whether this was a federal job or a provincial/territorial job) and hiring managers *love* being able to reach into existing pools of already competition-qualified candidates and hire them rather than having to go through the endless HR morass that is running their own external hiring competitions. So, depending on the specific circumstances of anonymous's job and personal life, it may be possible to use this to her advantage if she doesn't burn bridges now.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:20 PM on April 13 [6 favorites]

(Sorry, my brain slipped into she/her at the end there. Didn't mean to gender an anonymous poster.)
posted by jacquilynne at 7:50 PM on April 13

Every employer ever wlll cancel an offer letter, lay employees off, etc. It's just business.
posted by theora55 at 5:37 AM on April 14

Hiring manager here, been doing this a while. This situation isn't all that uncommon. Elaborating on what Protostar said in the first response, main thing for the hiring manager is whether top picks from their original pool of candidates are still available. Don't overthink it - the best thing you can do for the hiring org is send it on Monday.
posted by kovacs at 7:47 AM on April 14

Elaborating on what Protostar said in the first response, main thing for the hiring manager is whether top picks from their original pool of candidates are still available.

Well, if they are smart, they'll have a pool... but since it took four competitions to hire my newest colleague after all the qualified people already had offers (I work for government), I wouldn't bet on it. I've also seen competitions go awry because the hiring manager listed an asset qualification as a necessary qualification, and then had to re-do the competition because you by law cannot hire someone that does not have all the necessary qualifications. We are terrible at hiring in the Canadian public sector.
posted by Kurichina at 9:51 AM on April 15

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