You did it! You crushed your interviews and mailed your thank-you notes, and now your experiences and efforts have landed you a job offer. If you’re lucky, the process has excited you for the new role and company, but it’s not uncommon to discover deal-breakers that leave you wanting to stay. Perhaps the negotiated salary is too low, the job description has been altered, or some change at your current employment makes you reconsider leaving in the first place. Whatever the reason, you may need to learn how to reject a job offer.
First, let go of any guilt you feel about rejecting this job offer. “Interviewing for a job does not signal that you will definitely accept it if it’s offered to you, no more than an employer interviewing you is an implicit promise to hire you,” Alison Green, author of Ask a Manager: Clueless Colleagues, Lunch-Stealing Bosses, and the Rest of Your Life at Work, write in New York Magazine. Harboring these feelings will only make telling the employer of your decision harder on you, and could negatively impact your response — and you don’t want to hem and haw before declining or attempt to over-explain yourself in an email. Either could risk offending the employer more than simply passing on a job.
The last thing you want to do is burn bridges, especially in a niche industry where everyone seems to know everyone else. Crunch the numbers and search your soul to ensure that you’re confident that the job offer isn’t for you, then follow these tips to rejecting a job offer.
As soon as you know, let your would-be employer know.
As many hours as you have put into researching the company, preparing for interviews, and acing the tough questions, an employer has spent that same time narrowing the applicant pool down to you. So, if you would not want to wait for an extended period to hear whether or not you got the job, don’t make the hiring manager sit on pins and needles waiting for your decision. No one likes to be strung along, Monster notes.
How you deliver your news is equally important. Glassdoor notes that you should think about the line of communication you’ve had thus far: A thoughtfully crafted response to an ongoing email chain might be acceptable. But, if you’ve developed a phone rapport — or if you want to underscore how much you’ve valued the company’s consideration—call with your decision. (Just don’t leave a voicemail.)
Always start with “thank you.”
It may be obvious, but don’t take for granted this simple opening line, over email or phone. Thanking the hiring manager for the opportunity recognizes their time spent reading your application, meeting with you, introducing you to the team, and so on.
Be short, sweet, and only somewhat specific.
Cap your explanation at no more than two sentences, with just enough detail to demonstrate the real thought that you’ve given the offer and that you’re not passing on a whim. Maybe you’re just not ready to relocate, or willing to compromise on salary, or both. Perhaps you’ve been offered another position that you do choose to accept. The simplest explanation will suffice here; no need to share your full pros and cons list with the prospective employer.
Also, Indeed suggests you skip the brutal honesty: If you’re not as interested in the people or company as you once thought, a polite explanation that “the position doesn’t feel like quite the right fit” would be better than risking insulting the team or company.
Keep in touch.
After you express your gratitude one more time, sign off with a simple yet effective, “I hope our paths cross again in the future” or “I hope that we might work together in the future.” Either indicates your goodwill toward the hiring manager and openness to other opportunities together. (Tip: This closure works just as well in a graceful thank-you note after you’ve learned you’ve been passed up for a role!)
Continue on to the Woman’s Day article on Yahoo News to read the complete post.