AGR Blog

Reducing reneged offers


245 Sam AGR

Samuel Gordon, Research Analyst at the AGR, considers our latest data on reneged offers and what employers can do to beat them.


Employers go to great lengths to find the best students for their organisation. Based on the AGR’s Annual Survey 2016, they hired from 30 universities on average, spent around £1,700 per hire on attraction and marketing, benchmarked their salaries, crafted their offers, and brought candidates through selection processes that were typically ten weeks long. They also generated a lot of interest: an average of 68 student applications for every vacancy.

The challenge

Despite all of this investment and interest, vacancies continue to go unfilled. If we go back a decade in AGR’s data, between 18%-45% of employers did not fill at least one vacancy every year. In 2016, 52% of employers experienced this problem. This is a systemic challenge and one we should be collectively trying to solve.

Reneged offers, where a candidate accepts a job offer then turns it down, and declined offers are key reasons for this trend.

Reducing reneges is an important part of any solution, particularly as employers tell us that this is happening more often, and increasingly at short notice, causing resourcing issues and leaving limited time to find replacement candidates. The net result is a loss for employers and for young people in general: businesses are not able to harness the skills of a talented graduate in their workforce, and thousands of other young people miss out on the offer of working with great organisations.

The extent of the problem does vary by sector. Overall, an average of 7% of offers were reneged in 2016. Accountancy and banking firms seem to have the highest renege rates, with 10% and 9% of their offers being reneged respectively. By contrast, public sector and law firms seem to have the lowest renege rates, at 5% and 2% of offers respectively. This is a complex issue with interesting dynamics.


Let’s think positively though. What are the possible solutions? How can our industry reduce reneges?

Creating a great candidate experience is key: in 2016, 17% more employers asked candidates for feedback on their selection process. “Keep warm” activities – held between the offer date and start date to keep candidates engaged – are also areas of focus, with 48% of firms now budgeting for these.

Based on a pulse survey of 79 employers at the start of this year, two types of activities had the biggest impact on reducing reneged offers.

The first was seen as regular contact with graduates. This is already extremely common: 97% of employers communicate with their prospective hires between the time of an offer and the time of joining. Use of specific methods includes:

  • 92% communicate via emails
  • 57% communicate via social media
  • 16% graduates contribute to company internal communications such as blogs

The second was seen as opportunities for candidates to meet their peers. In fact, 78% of employers run events between offer and start dates. Use of specific methods include:

  • 56% have graduate hires meet each other
  • 54% have candidates meet previous graduates or their assigned buddies
  • 42% arrange meetings between hires and their managers

There is plenty that can be done to tackle this issue, and we would encourage employers to trial new approaches and partnerships to find out what works best. While reneging on offers was one of the top ten challenges highlighted by recruiters for 2017, targeted action could ensure it is no longer a major challenge in 2018.

For more insight and data visit the AGR Knowledge Bank

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