How to politely turn down a job offer

Fa calendar 16 grey August 11, 2020   
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Once you have made up your mind about it, don’t procrastinate or ghost the employer. You need to be upfront while still leaving a positive professional impression.

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Photo credit: Gustavo Fring

Getting a job offer doesn’t necessarily mean you have to accept it. However, you need to ensure that you have carefully thought through your reasons for accepting or declining the job offer. For most people declining a job offer is not only uncomfortable but hard to do. Nevertheless, once you have made up your mind about it, don’t procrastinate or ghost the employer.

It is common courtesy to give a formal notice so that the company can offer the position to someone else. You need to be upfront while still leaving a positive professional impression. Keep in mind this is another part of the job search process which has long term effects.   

Medium of communication

Figuring out which model of communication is suitable needs to be the first thing to sort out. Will you call, email or show up in person? The rule that can help you decide is to use the same method the employer did when they offered you the job. If they called then you call back. If they sent you an email then you need to reply to it.  

Appreciation

Before you go straight to declining, start with a thank you. The company has invested a lot of time by the time they are giving you an offer considering how long and involving the hiring process is. Your first statement needs to appreciate their time and effort e.g. “Thank you so much for the offer and opportunity. I appreciate the time you took to engage and consider me…”

Be concise

Once you have appreciated the employer’s effort in selecting you, don’t sugar coat the initial message. Make your intentions known by clearly stating that you aren’t accepting the opportunity. Provide an explanation as to the reason behind it without going into much detail. This doesn’t mean you have to be harsh or complain about their faults. It could be something like, “After much consideration, I have (list the reason here) and will need to decline the offer.”

Provide referral

You can offer to recommend someone else who is qualified and job searching. Even though the employer might go for their second candidate, the offer you made shows a level of consideration.

Keep in touch

Finally, you can conclude the offer by letting the employer know you’d love to stay connected. This is if you had developed a good professional rapport with them. You can send an invitation to them via LinkedIn. You never know where the connections might lead to in your career.

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