Many job seekers feel bad about declining a job offer after spending time in the interview with someone they really like and respect. I have been asked by several candidates how to decline a job offer they do not want to accept. One candidate said he felt almost disloyal when he turned down an offer because it just was not good timing for him, but he really wanted to be considered in the future for this company. I told the candidate that declining a job offer is not about being disloyal, but it is about being honest and professional.
Following your interview, always ask when a decision will be made and by what date you are expected to act on an extended offer. While you are going through the decision-making process, be sure to keep in contact with your potential employer and the recruiter. An open line of communication will allow you to negotiate any aspect of the offer more effectively.
Once you have decided to accept an offer, inform the hiring authority immediately and confirm all arrangements in accordance with the employer’s policies and procedures. Don’t put this on social media sites until you have let the other employers who have also offered you employment know of your decision. It is understandable that when offered a new and challenging position you will be excited. You have worked hard and deserve it, but it is important to keep your integrity and professionalism intact. Don’t quit your current job, either, until you have received a confirmed written offer and start date.
With all the competition for job openings many job seekers feel lucky to receive any offer, but sometimes for whatever reason, you may need to decline an offer. As soon as you have determined you are unable to accept a job offer, whether you have accepted another position or have realized that the job is not for you because of location, compensation, or other reasons, contact the hiring authority and recruiter as soon as possible.
Respect and consideration is important in declining a job offer and we encourage everyone to decline the offer promptly and honestly. The hiring authority will need to offer the position to someone else and you don’t want to hold up the process. If you handle it gracefully and honestly, you leave a lasting impression as a professional person with integrity. You want to keep your options open and avoid closing the door on any future opportunities.
Make sure you speak directly with the person about it. Do not leave a voicemail message nor send an email message to decline the offer. If you cannot speak directly with the hiring authority, then leave a message that you want to speak with them regarding the offer.
While you are delivering the rejection, whether in person or on the phone, remain diplomatic and positive. Be very courteous and thankful for the opportunity, thanking the person you’re calling as well as others in the company who were also helpful to you. Take the time to show how much you appreciated their time to interview you, and how much you appreciate the offer.
Be honest and direct when you tell them regrettably that you cannot accept the offer. Do not lie about your reason for not accepting the offer. You will be seen as more credible if you remain positive and appreciative when you explain that you have decided not to take the position. Provide a brief explanation as to the reason you cannot accept the offer at this time. If you feel you might be interested in the future, tell them that, and ask if you can keep in touch with them.
If you had a negative experience during the interview process or with the company itself, keep that to yourself, but state that the timing was not right or that the job did not meet your career goals at this time. If you have found a better opportunity, let the hiring authority know that you found another position that meets your requirements and really appreciate their time and the opportunity to learn about their company.
Once you have discussed it with the hiring authority, continue to keep it professional and positive. Thank the person again for their time and effort. Follow-up the call immediately in writing, again with the goal of keeping it professional and maintaining a positive and appreciative tone. A handwritten thank you note goes a long way. However, if you write or email a letter declining the offer, keep it short, honest, and very positive. Remember to thank the recruiter and, as appropriate, any other company official for their time and consideration.
If you take the time to communicate in a professional and graceful manner, you will gain the respect of the employer whose offer you rejected. This will work in your favor long term should you be interested in job opportunities in the future with the organization.
Also, if you were working with a recruiter, immediately inform them that at this time you are declining the job. This will demonstrate your maturity, professionalism, and acknowledgement of how much time and energy was invested in you and the recruiting process. The recruiter will understand and by having this discussion, you can share some of your reasons for accepting another position or declining the presented offer. This provides the recruiter valuable feedback and will also bring closure to the process. It is important that you be positive, humble, and appreciative of the offer. Do not voice any negativity about the organization.
Gracefully declining a job offer is also about reputation. Not everyone is considerate in applying for jobs or declining job offers. It is a small world, especially in the Healthcare Technology Management career field. We have had Human Resource professionals tell us how some candidates are coming to them to leverage promotions in their current position. This leveraging can hurt a candidate in future career opportunities. If you burn a bridge, it does not take long for it to be known in the industry.
Regardless of the situation or reason for declining a job offer, declining an offer gracefully and in a professional manner is an act that reveals much about your character and can possibly set up a successful career move in the future.
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