Circumstances Have Changed: Is It Too Late To Say Yes?

How do you say yes to an opportunity that you've turned down in the past? Here's what you need to know about the proper ways of saying no and saying yes.

We’ve discussed the proper way to say no, but how and when to say yes is just as important.  It becomes even more critical if you are saying yes after turning down the offer previously or if you want to re-engage in the offer discussions after saying no. Saying yes and the timing of it is crucial, so let’s dive into this.

The Question & Retort

Where do we start with how to say yes? In previous blogs, you have learned my favorite question and my favorite retort after an interview.  To reiterate, the favorite question after completing an interview in your head should only be one: Do you want to learn more?  That’s it, nothing else.  By focusing on, “Do you want to learn more,” your mind will only be focused on that one question, and you are free to listen and answer questions to your best ability.  After determining if you want to learn more and you decide it’s not the right opportunity, my next favorite retort is that at the present time: This is not the right opportunity.  The reason for that specific term is that time changes and you may want to engage.  If you closed the door completely, you will not have that opportunity.  Let’s assume you have used that line, times have changed, and you want to re-engage.  Now is the time to pick up the phone if you use a recruiter and say, “Yes, I do want to continue on the interview path.”  If it was an opportunistic situation, I can promise you the doors would remain open for you if you closed them politely and promptly. 

When Times Have Changed…

Now the doors are reopened. If they want to set up another meeting, the key here is to continue to say yes and as quickly as possible. Make sure you can do that promptly.  Be on the call early; be at the meeting early.  All of these telltale signs indicate that you are fully engaged and that you will close if all conditions are met on both parts.  Saying yes now becomes the natural response.  Like any good salesperson – getting a yes out of a prospect makes the final yes so much easier to obtain.  It’s now up to you to flip roles where you are the one that is driving the process.  Clearly showing that times have changed. 

Why Not Then? Why Now?

Why would you say yes after turning down either an offer or further discussions?  This must be conveyed immediately to the hiring manager.  Why?  It gives them an opportunity to save face as they were expecting you to move through the process. However, more importantly, they need an answer to justify continued discussions.  Let’s look at some of the reasons timing may have been off for you.   The number one reason is that you had deals that you were afraid you were going to lose if you went further at this time.  Deals are currently closed, and you now understand that further deals may come in, but you have measured that against leaving and having this great new opportunity in front of you.  Another reason is that you may have had political reasons not to have moved forward and those reasons may not be there anymore.  “Political” in the sense that maybe there were people at the new firm that could have been an obstacle for you developing more business. Another example in the case of a bond counsel is that they could have been on the other side of a matter that you represent or a client that is a party to other work that another attorney was working on.  The point is that the obstruction for you moving forward has been removed.

One Chance To Say Yes Instead.

Your reasons for a previous no should be fully disclosed and discussed with the recruiter.  If not with a recruiter, then with the hiring manager.  However (this is so important), you only get one chance to re-engage.  If you cannot see yourself closing in and starting to work at the new firm, do not try this as it will only leave a very sour taste in the hiring manager’s mouth.  If you truly see the benefit of moving forward to a positive conclusion and could say yes, re-engaging may be the answer if done right.  Let us help you if that is a decision you make. I’ll leave you with my closing point: You never burnt a bridge with a recruiter if you are honest about your initial reason for not moving forward.  They wanted to represent you before, they wanted to work with you again. I know I would.


You don’t need a resume to chat with us! If you would like to discuss your options, please reach out for a confidential conversation at 760-477-1284 or email at [email protected]. He can also be reached on LinkedIn. Harlan publishes a blog every Thursday here. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter here, which is a compilation of our weekly blogs, so you never miss one. You can find our listing in the “supplier and services” section of the Red Book under the title of “executive recruiting.”

About Harlan Friedman, JD & Founding Member, H. Friedman Search LLC. Harlan is a thirty-year veteran Public Finance Banker turned recruiter who specializes in the placement of all levels Public Finance Bankers, Healthcare Bankers, Municipal Advisors, Compliance Officers, Issuers, and Bond Counsels.