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How To: Turn Down a Job Offer Professionally

Written by: RICS Recruit
Published on: 8 Apr 2016

Business People Walking

After spending countless hours polishing your CV, composing your cover letter, and even getting through the gruelling interview process, you’ve finally gotten a job offer.

But something isn’t quite right – maybe the salary is too low or the commute is too long. Or maybe someone else is offering you something better. Whatever the reason, you need to find a way to turn the offer down.

Rejecting a job offer isn’t always easy, especially after you’ve worked so hard to impress them. But whatever the reason, if you need to turn a company down, here are some tips:

Tell them quickly

As soon as you’ve made the decision that you’re not going to take the role, let the company know. You don’t want to draw the process out or have them turn another candidate down because they think you’ve accepted the offer. The same goes for negotiating if you know you won’t take the job anyway – it’s not worth wasting everyone’s time unless you really will take the job if they amend the offer.

Call, don’t email

While it may be tempting to send an email rejecting the job offer, it will be clear to the employer that you’re trying to avoid an awkward conversation. Telling them over the phone shows you respect them and makes you look more professional in their eyes.

Plan what you want to say

Word choice and phrasing are hugely important in a conversation like this, and you want to make sure you have an idea of what you want to say in advance. For instance, while you should be honest about your reasons for turning them down, you don’t want to be too blunt. You don’t want to say that you thought the interviewer was a jerk or that the job duties were more than anyone could reasonably handle.

Be brief and polite

One of the main things to bear in mind is that you don’t want to burn any bridges; after all, you might find an opening at the company at a later date that suits you better. More importantly, you don’t know who the hiring manager might talk to. Keeping the conversation short, to the point, and polite helps avoid making it unpleasant for everyone involved.

It’s not you, it’s me

Whatever the real reason you’re rejecting the job is, you should try to phrase it in a way that makes it about you and not them or the company. If you don’t know what to say, something along the lines of “After careful consideration, I’ve decided this role doesn’t fit my current career goals” will do. It may sound like a cliché, but you want to make sure you end things on a positive note.

Thank them

People tend to forget that the hiring manager, interviewer, and possibly other staff put a lot of time and effort into recruiting for this position, so it’s polite to thank them for their time, especially since you’re turning them down. Letting them know what you liked about the company or even the recruitment process can be good, or mention something specific from the interview.