It is not a common occurrence that a prospective employee gets to decline a job offer but oftentimes it does happen and it is not an out-of-the-universe occurrence. Sometimes a job offer, here is how you evaluate a job offer, doesn’t fit, even though you applied for the role hoping it would. Or perhaps, you have applied for a lot of opportunities and you get offered more than one but being a singular person you cannot accept all of them, you can only take one. In such a case, it’s never easy, but sometimes declining a job offer is necessary.
If one finds themselves in such a scenario it feels like a dilemma as there are conflicting ways as to how best handle the situation. One gets to question themselves a lot. Questions like these come to mind: What’s the best way to decline a job offer? How should one turn down a job if you don't want to take it? It is noteworthy that how one handles the decline of the job offer is of importance. It’s not advisable to just take one opportunity and silently decline other offers without politely informing them of your choice. What you say or write when you decline depends on your reasons for rejecting it. If the job wasn't a good fit, for example, but you liked the company, state in your email or phone call that you were impressed with the organization but didn't view the job as a good fit for you.
If the company is unappealing because of its culture, a prospective supervisor, or its products or services, “thanks for the opportunity” with a simple reference to the job not being a great fit at this point in your career is sufficient. Candidates are generally better off not expressing specific dissatisfaction with the staff with whom they interacted or sharing any criticisms of the organization.
If a job offer and organization are attractive but the offered salary is insufficient, you might address this issue in your communications. If all efforts to negotiate a higher salary fail to yield the results you require, send a communication expressing your thanks and reaffirming your excitement about the position, stating that you must decline due to the level of the salary. Oftentimes an employer will come back to you with a better offer once they see that you are truly willing to work. In that case, one should be prepared to discuss a counteroffer, if a higher salary would make a difference.
As stated earlier it is important to be polite and exchange pleasantries as the job search world especially in certain industries are small. So offering some small pleasantries before you sign off is always a good idea. One should start by being straightforward and honest in your message. The prospective job seeker should thank the hiring manager for their time and provide their reason for declining without being overly specific. The declination should be succinct and forthright in response and, if appropriate, one should offer to stay in touch.
Below is a step by step guide as to how to decline a job offer:
1. Don’t procrastinate
Once one has decided to decline the offer, they should not delay writing to the employer. Letting the company know in a timely manner will help them move forward more quickly in their own process and finding a replacement for the vacant position. This will spare them the inconvenience of them thinking that they have secured someone to fill in the vacant position yet one would not be willing to commit to the organisation due to various reasons.
2. It should be kept simple and straight to the point
One should not go overboard with excessive compliments about the company or the people they would have interacted with. After all, it’s a rejection letter so there is no need to sugar coat it. The person declining the job offer should say what needs to be said as respectfully as they can and there should be an avoidance of being overly emotional.
3. Show gratitude and say “thank you”
Above all, one should maintain a tone of gratitude as they write the letter, letting the recruiter and hiring manager know that they appreciate their time and effort. This is essential as it makes sure that one does not get to burn bridges because the job is not a fit at the moment. In the job search world, the job applicant might cross paths with the organisation in the future. So it is necessary to be grateful for the job offer even if one is not taking it. However, this is not a common occurrence most prospective job seekers just go silent on the employers.
4. Offer reason(s) but don’t get specific
The reasons for not accepting the offer could be as simple as the company didn’t offer you the compensation you were seeking. Perhaps you weren’t sure you’d work well with the hiring manager. Or maybe you weren’t excited about the company. While these are all justifiable reasons to decline a job offer, you should not include them in your rejection letter. It is sufficient to say that you’ve accepted a job offer elsewhere or simply that this job offer isn’t the right fit.
5. Offer to stay in touch
If during the recruitment process one felt a warm connection with the hiring team but the role wasn’t a good fit for other reasons, one should consider offering to stay in touch and provide additional contact information. It is important to note that if one does not feel obliged to provide this information they should not, but others might see this opportunity as a way to build their professional network.
Sample of how to turn down a job offer through email
According to Indeed Career Guide (2019) below are two sample email templates to choose from:
- If you’ve accepted another position
- The second will show you how to turn down a job offer that isn’t the right fit.
Dear Mr./Ms. [insert the last name of hiring manager],
Thank you very much for offering me the role of [insert name of position] with [insert company name]. Though it was a difficult decision, I have accepted a position with another company.
I sincerely enjoyed our conversations and very much appreciate your taking the time to interview me over the course of the past few weeks.
Again, thank you for your time and consideration; best wishes in your continued success, and I hope our paths cross again in the future.
Milton Jack is a Business Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a business management and human resources consulting firm.
Phone: +263 242 481946-48/481950
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