Declining a Job Offer

After months of scouring job listings, heading to interviews, meeting with career counselors and recruiters, polishing and re-polishing your resume, you finally receive an offer!

If only you didn’t feel so apprehensive about accepting that long-awaited job offer.

Perhaps you weren’t completely sold on the position when learning about the details, or maybe you didn’t feel entirely comfortable in the company atmosphere during your personal interview. You continued to go through with the entire interview process simply because you’ve been looking for a new opportunity for some time and feel obligated to continue on. You blame the insecurities on nervousness and the anxiety that a possible life change brings. Before you know it, the phone rings.They‘re making you an offer.

You’re in denial, thinking you’ll give this opportunity careful consideration as you listen to the hiring manager speak. Deep down inside, you wish you would’ve never applied to the position being offered to you in the first place. You request a couple days to think about the offer and discuss with your family, knowing it will be the quickest two days of your life because as soon as you hang up, you accept how you really feel.

You do not want the position. But in today’s job market, how can you turn it down?

You, honesty, and time.
When considering a job offer, knowing what is most important to you is key in making the right decision.  If you’ve known all along that the position probably isn’t the right fit for you, you made a mistake in giving interviewees the impression that you actually were  interested in order to maintain a considerate, professional image.  This creates an awkward situation for both you and the employer as you’ve lead them on for some time. The best way to avoid this is to be up front about what your needs are in terms of role, atmosphere, schedule, commute, etc. You can easily make this information clear without seeming demanding by approaching it with a kind demeanor – but if this discussion was neglected throughout the interview process, your best bet is to simply be honest. You do not wish to accept the position,  you know the reasons why, and the clock is ticking. Let them know as soon as possible, so that they may resume their search for additional job candidates (and call them; declining through email is unprofessional at this stage in the process.)

What about negotiating?
Unless there’s a serious possibility that you may change your mind, negotiations are unnecessary.

Obviously, the company who’s dedicated time to recruiting and interviewing you and has made you an offer will not be happy when you decline to accept. This is to be expected; the improper way to respond is by expressing your dislikes and other negative aspects of the offer. Be appreciative and kind – feel free to mention some aspects of the position or company that you had reservations about, but do so in a non-aggressive way. End the conversation on a high note by mentioning the positives of working with the company and thanking them for their consideration. Finally, learn from the experience and maintain an interest in positions that truly match your lifestyle, personal and professional needs.

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