Job Offer

Declining a Job Offer with Grace

By Lana Johnson on December 5, 2019

GOOD NEWS: You’ve received a job offer. BAD NEWS: You don’t want the job. Maybe you’ve decided to stay in your current role. Lucky You might be deciding between two (or more) job offers. Maybe you simply have red flags ... about the company, the role, or the manager ... and you’ve decided against the opportunity. Whatever your situation might be, take advantage of the chance to leave a positive impression by declining the offer with grace.

It’s a small world and you never know when you might encounter someone again. The people we meet on our career journeys can become future co-workers, bosses, mentors, or customers. You might even end up applying at the same company in the future. Every interaction leaves an impression; when you decline a job offer, it’s a prime opportunity to make a great one.

Declining a Job Offer

Feeling anxious about letting the employer down? You can decline pretty painlessly if you follow three simple steps:

1. Show gratitude

Hiring managers put a lot of time and effort into making a hire. They review dozens of resumes, conduct interviews for hours, and they invest time to make decisions and create the offer. Thank them for the opportunity and thank them for their time. If you thought the interview process was impressive, tell them that.

2. Tell them why (briefly)

You don’t need to elaborate with a detailed explanation behind your decision, but give them something. Perhaps you’ve decided to stay at your company, or maybe you’ve found another opportunity that matches your goals or needs more closely. Share that, and at least they will know what happened. Just not interested? Say that you’re continuing your search at this time and you appreciate their interest.

3. Keep in touch

Leverage the chance to build your professional network by asking if you can stay in touch. This can be as simple as offering to connect on LinkedIn (if you haven’t connected already) or, it can be as simple as saying, “I enjoyed meeting with you and I’d like to stay in touch.” Either way, you’re building your network and making a professional impression.

Be sure to decline as quickly as possible so that the employer can continue their hiring efforts. Use your judgment on whether you should decline via phone or email (a good guideline is to decline in the same manner as the offer was made). If you do call, don’t decline via voice mail; hang up and send an email.

Declining an offer can feel uncomfortable and awkward, but with tact, honesty, and professionalism, you can overcome the moment and keep the doors open for whatever the future may bring.

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