You set yourself apart from other candidates, nailed the job interview, and now the company is offering you the job.
But… it’s just not the location you wanted, or maybe the timing is off, or the opening isn’t quite the perfect fit. But it’s a great company. Now you’re wondering, “How do I turn down a job offer but keep the door open?”
The best way to turn down a job offer while keeping the door open is to be prompt, transparent, professional, and polite with your response.
Read further to learn exactly how to decline an offer politely and professionally so that you don’t burn bridges in case you hope to work at the company in the future.
How to Decline a Job Offer
Be prompt. The most important task, and likely the most difficult, will be to expedite your reply. Do give the offer careful consideration, of course. List the pros and cons of the role if you accepted the position. You will use both of those to create a response that’s proper and may keep future possibilities within reach.
There are numerous reasons someone might turn down a job offer even though they pursued the job opening and you won’t be the first one to do so. It’s awkward but procrastinating with your reply will only make it worse for you and for the company.
Be transparent. Honesty is the best policy in this case. If, during the interviewing process, you realized that the commute will be too challenging during the required shift or undesirable duties of the job are stressed more than you anticipated, you should mention this in your response.
Be careful not to be too negative, however. You can tell them that you’ve decided to pursue or accept a position with another company whose proximity better aligns with your schedule or whose duties align better with your strengths.
Avoid too much detail. For instance, if there are personal reasons you can’t accept the job offer, just inform them that “for personal reasons, I must decline.” The hiring manager does not need to know details of relationship challenges, health concerns, or similarly confidential specifics that may only make both of you uncomfortable when shared.
Afraid to discuss money? If the salary they offered is the reason you want to decline the job offer, tactfully let them know: “I’ve decided to pursue an opportunity where the compensation better suits my financial needs.”
Be professional. Again, you’re likely not the first person who has declined a job offer with this company. You could, however, be the one whose professionalism in doing so makes you a possible candidate if a more suitable job opening occurs in the future. Give them an honest, prompt reply that is well balanced on details and positivity. It should not be lengthy, and it should be followed with a “thank you.”
Be polite. You should express your gratitude by thanking them for the offer and for their time. If more than one human resource person played a role in the hiring process, express your gratitude to each. Mention something positive about the company and emphasize that you do wish they keep your resume on file in case future openings may be a better fit.
Should I Email or Call to Turn Down a Job Offer?
Whenever possible, turn down a job offer via phone call. It is more personal and leaves little room for miscommunication or misinterpretation. This will help keep the door open for future job openings at the company that may be a better fit for you.
If email is the only route to take, make sure you’re clearly stating your regrets, your reasoning, your gratitude, and your admiration for the company with the desire to be considered for future openings that might be a better fit.
When you let the company know that you’re not interested, the company will know to move on to other candidates, so a prompt, honest, professional, and polite rejection is not a negative thing, it’s a good thing.
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