Turning down a job offer—no matter how sure you are that you don't want it—never feels great.
So, you’re looking for a new job like a mad man or woman, you apply for who-knows-how-many positions, and you interview at a few different places. And you find yourself in the enviable position of having more than one job offer on the table.
Except for that you have to turn at least one of them down. And that’s not always easy.
Whether you’re faced with an offer that you’d never accept in a million years or one that you’d consider (if not for the other, better offer you also received), here’s how to craft a gracious “thank you but no thank you.”
What may have sounded like the perfect job could quickly turn out to be an option best suited for someone else. If you have interviewed, and then been offered a job you no longer are interested in pursuing, follow these etiquette tips on how to properly and politely decline.
Make The Phone Call And Send A Formal Letter
First off, make a personal call and let the interviewer know of your change of heart. Follow up by sending a formal acknowledgment, thanking the people you spoke with in the course of your interview(s), informing them that you have decided to decline the job offer. It’s not the first time they have experienced a potential employee who changed their mind. What they will remember is your graceful exit.
Give a Reason
You may have several valid reasons to turn down the role. However, keep your feedback short and sweet. You may not like the dress code, or the corporate culture was too stiff or lax, or you didn’t gel with your potential boss or the work week was not flexible enough for your comfort level. Regardless of your personal feelings, professionally deliver your feedback. In the business arena, you will interact with people who you have met along the way, and you don’t want to burn any bridges in the process.
Putting off the inescapable because you are nervous or don’t want to address an awkward exchange only delays the inevitable and can possibly compromise an opportunity for the company to hire another good candidate. There may have been several good choices, and you were one of them but waiting too long may reduce the chances of the other candidate being available.
Phone Call Example:
I am flattered by your job offer, but I have decided to take my name out of the pool for this position due to the travel the role entails. I want to thank you for your time and the concise explanation of the job requirements. I know you have many applicants and I wish you the very best. I hope to stay in communication and look forward to continuing our professional relationship for years to come. Please accept my apology for changing the course of our conversation, but I believe it will be in both of our best interests to continue the search for the right fit.
When the job isn’t the right fit
It’s not uncommon to go through the interview process only to realise that the role you’ve been interviewing for is different to what you had anticipated or doesn’t align with yourcareer goals. If that’s the case, keep your job offer rejection message cordial but direct:
Contact Name Street Address City, State, Postcode
Thank you very much for offering me the opportunity to work at [Company] as [Job Title].
After much deliberation, I will not be accepting the position, as it isn’t the right fit for my long-term career goals.
I sincerely appreciate the offer and give you my best wishes in finding a suitable candidate for the position. I wish you and the company well in all future endeavours.
Review the Employment Agreement
If you signed a contract, you might be legally indebted to the company for a certain length of time. In such circumstances, after you state your desire to the hiring manager, it may be better to start the job and work in the 90-day window, giving your 2 weeks to 30-day notice. This action may be extreme but necessary in rare cases. Some supervisors may let you off the hook while others won’t. Time and training are considerations for an employer who would rather invest in a committed employee versus someone who is merely following through with a contractual agreement.