How to Turn Down a Job Offer

Look at you, high-flyer! After what felt like an eternity of CVs, applications, situational tests, competency questions and interviews, you’ve found yourself in the fortunate position of being offered multiple jobs. The power now lies with you and next comes the task of rejecting the employers whose offers you aren’t going to accept.

Turning someone down, especially after telling them how much you wanted to work for them, is never going to be a pleasant task, but this guide will help you to say “thanks, but no thanks” in a painless and professional way:

Are You 100% Sure?

Before you turn down an offer you need to ensure that you are making the right decision. If you have more than one confirmed job offer, review and compare them all: the role, what the company is offering you, the salary and the benefits, and all the pros and cons of each so that you’re certain. No matter how much you want that other job, unless you have an official verbal or written offer from that employer, wait before you reject, just in case you need a backup plan.

It’s also useful to note that “treat them mean, keep them keen” doesn’t apply in this instance – if you think that rejecting an offer will encourage the company to try to lure you in with a more lucrative role or salary, think again. You won’t have been the only applicant for the role and opportunity doesn’t knock twice.

Don’t Drag it Out

As uncomfortable as you may feel doing it, you must be timely with your rejections. Leaving it too long comes across as unprofessional and inconsiderate, and the employer will waste their time chasing your response, only to eventually be declined.

Employers are likely to have had an offer turned down before, so as long as you’re polite and gracious, you’re definitely not going to offend anyone. Try not to worry too much about their reaction, just get it done!

Don’t Bottle Out with an Email

NO. Don’t even think about it. Sending an email to reject a job offer may seem like the easier option, but you’re better than that!

The best way to politely decline an offer is to call first, and then follow up this discussion with either a letter or an email, consolidating what has already been expressed. This is not only the most professional manner in which to turn down an offer, but it will stand you in good stead with the recruiter/employer. You still want to make a good impression, you never know what will happen in the future and you might find yourself applying for a role with them again.

Express Your Gratitude

Although you’re turning them down, the company did give you a chance, so let them know that you are grateful for their consideration, for their offer and for their time. Offer them your sincere thanks and let them know that you really do appreciate them meeting with you. It’s all about good manners and professionalism, and again, boils down to leaving things on a good note.

Big Them Up

You wanted to work for them, and you told them this in your application and your interview. A rejection is much softer when you talk about what you liked about the job and the company.

Another way to leave things on a good note is to recommend someone else that you know who may be suitable for the role and pass on their details (of course, make sure that this person is happy for you to do so).

Explain Yourself and Stand Your Ground

When you reject a job offer, you may or may not be asked to provide a reason – either way, it’s best to always do so. Don’t feel like you have to go into too much detail.

Say things like: “I’ve been offered another opportunity that I feel will better suit my professional development needs at present”, or quite simply, “ After careful thought, I do not feel that now is the right time for me to move on from my current position”.

You may at this point be given a counter offer, there’s nothing wrong in considering this, but if you know the role or company really isn’t for you, it’s really not worth being swayed by a bigger salary, so this would be the time to politely decline.

Don’t Burn Your Bridges

Fast forward a little – 6 months, 1 year, 5 years… Who knows where you’ll be? One thing’s for certain, you can never predict it, but in the future you may find yourself wanting to work for this business or with that recruiter again. Therefore, it is imperative that you don’t make a bad name for yourself.

When you make the phone call and send your follow up email/letter, leave things open with phrases such as:
“I hope we cross paths again” or “Maybe we will work together in the future”.

You can even use social media to stay in touch; follow the company on Twitter, ‘like’ their Facebook page, connect with the people you met with on LinkedIn – this is also a great way to boost your professional network.

Speaking of social media, if you had a bad experience with the business, or someone that works there, keep it to yourself. Social media pages are not the places to express these opinions, and more often than not this will reflect just as badly on you.

Follow these steps, and rejecting a job offer won’t seem so daunting, and you will leave a really great impression.

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