Although getting a job offer is exciting, it's not quite so thrilling to have to decline one that isn't a good fit. Perhaps the job doesn't have the correct qualifications or you've already accepted a better position at a different company. Whatever the situation, there are ways to decline an offer while keeping the high regard of the hiring manager.
If, after a great deal of soul-searching and number-crunching, you've determined that a job offer is simply not the right option for you, there's no shame in saying no. Nevertheless, you may feel apprehensive about what to say to that potential employer or hiring manager who was so kind to you during your interview. While it's perfectly natural to feel a bit embarrassed about turning down a job offer, remember that this is not a personal reflection of how you feel about the hiring manager.
There are graceful ways to decline a job offer and steps you can take to ensure that your reputation and future employment choices don't suffer afterward. When you start by understanding the point of view of your potential employer, you can better explain yourself and come across as a person of character.
If a recruiter has offered you a job, you can bet that they're hoping you accept and the empty position can be filled. However, keep in mind that the vast majority of good companies also want their employees to be happy on the job.
While a disappointed hiring manager may not be thrilled when you reject a job offer, they'll be happier if you take the time to provide your answer personally, give a clear answer as to why the job isn't the right fit for you, and announce your decision as soon as you make it. As you keep your potential employer’s point of view in mind, you'll have a better idea of how to go about the job rejection process calmly and with kindness.
Once you're absolutely sure that your answer to the job offer is a solid "no,"" you should move quickly to communicate this response to the hiring manager. They may have already given you a specific amount of time to consider your answer, but if you know your answer before the time is up, be sure to communicate it quickly so they can reach out to other candidates as soon as possible.
One way to alleviate the awkwardness is to keep your response as simple as possible and avoid delving into territory that doesn't need to be covered. You should give a specific reason for your decision, but this could be something as simple as that you're accepting another offer or that you don't feel that this offer is the right fit for you at this time.
In addition to responding swiftly and keeping it simple, you can express your appreciation for the job offer. Even if you feel that the salary and benefits weren't nearly appropriate for your level of education and experience, or the hours offered were terrible, you can keep these thoughts to yourself while thanking the manager for taking the time to meet with you.
Finally, leave a good impression by responding professionally. The vast majority of job applicants choose to decline offers via email, as this is often the fastest and easiest option available. However, filling your email with poor grammar and missing punctuation marks is not going to leave a good impression. Keep the relationship in good condition by maintaining a professional image to the end. You may even want to offer a more personal refusal by opting for a telephone call rather than email.
At the completion of a job rejection, there are a few steps you can take to leave the door open to other jobs in the future. For example, you might consider offering the names of contacts you know who may be perfect for this job. You can also encourage the hiring manager to reach out with future job offers should something open up in a position that's better suited to you. Finally, stay up-to-date with the company or the hiring manager via LinkedIn or other social media accounts to keep lines of communication open.
Although declining a job offer can seem uncomfortable, it's something that hiring managers experience all the time. Once you're sure that you want to go ahead with the rejection, keep communication clear, gracious, and professional. This will give you the best possible opportunity for accepting the future job offer that you actually want.