In today’s economy, it may seem unfathomable to turn down a job offer, but there are times when an offer just isn’t right and it’s best to move on to greener pastures. You may be hot commodity fielding several offers at once. Or you may simply find that the salary, benefits, or working hours are just not to your liking. Either way, the goal should be to politely decline the offer, while protecting your reputation and your relationship with the company in question. Whatever you do, don’t burn any bridges. After all, you never know when you may end up applying for a position with them again or dealing with them as a potential client in the future.
Here are some tips for maintaining proper etiquette while declining a job offer:
Be Timely – As soon as you have made your decision, it’s best to share the news with the individual making the offer. Don’t wait for them to contact you. Informing them as soon as possible not only gives them the opportunity to hire one of the other candidates who applied for the job, it also casts you in a positive light, which will keep you in their good graces should you end up working with them in some capacity in the future.
Put it in Writing – You may initially find yourself turning down an offer over the phone, but it’s always best to follow up with a formal letter. Be sure to address the letter to the person making the offer – never simply “Human Resources” or “To Whom It May Concern.” Thank him or her for their time and consideration and then provide a brief explanation of why you will not be accepting the offer. End the letter on a positive note because chances are you will run into them again sometime in your career, particularly if you intend to stay in the same industry.
Be Honest – Don’t make up excuses. Your decision is based on the fact that you feel another organization would be a better fit for your interests and goals, so simply state that as a fact. Even if you don’t currently have another offer on the table, it still holds true that another company would be better for you both personally and professionally.
Maintain Your Confidence – In making your decision, you have put your best interests first. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, so don’t apologize for the message you have to convey. That doesn’t mean you have to be gruff or rude, simply that you should avoid sounding like you feel guilty about turning down the offer. Be prepared to stand your ground if the hiring manager tries to get you to change your mind and never use phrases like “maybe in the future,” as doing so undermines your decision and makes you appear indecisive.
Keep it Positive – Even if you’ve found yourself completely turned off by the recruiter, the hiring manager, or the entire organization, you must endeavor to stay on the high road. They may be the most unprofessional and overbearing person you’ve ever met and their workforce may consist of equally obnoxious people, but you must resist the temptation to tell them exactly what you think of them and their company. Tell them you enjoyed learning about the company and do your best to sound appreciative