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“It’s Not You, It’s Me”...3 Tips for Turning Down a Job Offer

By the end of any job search, receiving the perfect employment offer can be a welcome and rewarding experience.  However, sometimes you will receive a job offer that is not the right fit for you. Here are a few suggestions for how to turn down a job offer with grace and professionalism.

(1) Communicate early. At any stage in the process, if you realize that you would never take the position if it were offered to you, no matter what the offer looked like, respectfully withdraw from the process before an offer is made. Organizations will invest a great deal of time in assessing your candidacy, interviewing you, and checking references; if you knew well before the offer that you would not accept the position, they will feel frustrated and perceive that time as wasted.

(2) Don’t burn any bridges. Remember that turning down a job offer is about maintaining, not closing, a relationship. Declining an offer gracefully can make a world of difference to your reputation and can improve your network. On the other hand, turning down a job offer in a disrespectful or unprofessional manner can do serious harm to both. When you need to turn down a job offer, make sure you do it promptly; this usually means no later than a week after the offer was extended.  Remember, the organization is hoping and expecting that you will say yes.  If you say no, they will be set back considerably in their search. The sooner they know that they will need to re-invigorate the search, the better for the organization.

(3) Stay connected. After declining an offer, make sure to follow up with everyone you met with or talked to from the organization. This will be an important part of communicating your appreciation for the time the organization took to pursue your candidacy and can help you to build your personal network. Remember, you never know when one of these people, or one of their colleagues, will be hiring again.  Commongood Careers has seen candidates who declined one job offer be hired by that same organization for a different position at some point in the future.  Just because this offer isn’t the right fit, it doesn’t mean you should close the door.

Finally, saying “no” can also be a learning experience. Turning down a job offer is never an easy thing to do. While difficult, when done with grace and respect, declining a job offer can help you expand your personal network as well as gain valuable skills in communication and insight into your ideal role.

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