How To Turn Down A Job Offer (Without Burning Bridges)

How To Turn Down A Job Offer (Without Burning Bridges)

You’ve decided that the job offered isn’t the right one for you — so how do you turn down the job offer gracefully? Just because you were offered the job doesn’t mean you have to accept it.

The first step is to decide how you’re going to communicate that you’re declining the job offer. If you had a good rapport with the hiring manager, and the hiring manager is who made the job offer, it makes sense to reach out to him or her directly using the phone. Don’t put off telling them no if you have decided you’re not going to accept the job.

If the offer was extended through a human resources representative, you may decide to let the HR rep know you’re declining the offer, again by phone, and then follow up with the hiring manager as well.

You want to communicate three key points:

  • You are grateful for the job offer
  • You’re declining the offer
  • You appreciate their time and consideration of you as a candidate

The most important is the second point — it should be clear that you’re turning down the job offer. You don’t have to provide a reason for doing so, but it’s likely you’ll be asked, so be ready.

Here is one possible answer: “After thinking it over, I just don’t think now is the right time for me to make a move,” or “After getting a better understanding of the role, I’ve come to realize this role isn’t the right fit for me.” Don’t provide criticism of the job or the organization when providing your reason for declining the job offer.

Don’t lie. It can be easy to say, “I’ve decided to accept a different job offer,” but if that’s not the case, it may come back to bite you. It’s fine to say you’ve decided to stay at your current job, but don’t make up another job offer as a way to decline this one.

The most important thing is to be clear that you’ve made your decision. If you’ve decided that you aren’t accepting the position, don’t be persuaded in the conversation you’re having to decline the job offer to accept it. (Especially if you are offered more money after previously being turned down for a salary increase when you made a counteroffer.)

If you’d like to be considered for other jobs at the organization in the future, make sure that you emphasize that you appreciate learning more about the organization but that this specific role wasn’t the right fit. It’s no guarantee that you will be considered for other roles in the future, but you’re trying not to burn the bridge. In fact, you can express interest in staying in touch with the hiring manager in the hopes that you’ll be considered for future opportunities.

Declining a job offer can be difficult. However, turning down a role that you ultimately wouldn’t be happy in is important. But it’s better for you — and the organization — that you decline the position so they can find someone who is a better fit.

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