How to Turn Down a Job

July 4, 2019

So, you impressed your potential employer and you got a new job offer. However, for whatever reason, you don’t feel like you are quite the right fit for each other. What now?

Road signs saying "the other way", "this way", "that way"

Most of us would agree that getting a job offer is not the worst problem to have. Yes! Someone finally realised your potential, saw the gem of an asset you can be and wants to have you onboard.

Where it can get a little tricky is when, for whatever reason, you don’t feel like you two of you are quite the right fit. Sadly, you’ve come to the difficult decision to go your separate ways. In this day and age, expectations are a tough cookie to manage and the idea of rejecting a job offer can easily put us into overthinking mode.

Oh no... How do I do this? *cringe*

First things first. Three things to have in mind before we reveal our top tips to make this process as pain-free as possible are: If it’s not too late, before you start your job search, gauge your needs and prioritise. What is truly important to you? A flexible work schedule? Salary? Career prospects? Having this clearly determined will help your decision-making process later on.

Second, come into your zen zone and be objective: the job market works in an organic way. It is made of tough choices, approvals and rejections. Hence, if you think about it, it is only natural and reasonable to decide if the job opportunity is right or not for you.

Finally, don’t be afraid to voice your needs and say no. Trust us on this one: you can’t go wrong if you communicate your decision in a respectful, professional and sincere manner.

How? Like this…

Key Word: Transparency!

Be as sincere as possible throughout the interview process about what you are looking for. Check what you find out against your priorities list. If at some point you find that your requirements are not met, then your rejection will not come as a surprise.

Be Prompt

As soon as you have decided to turn down this shining opportunity, let the company know. Recruitment departments work hard to find the right fit. So, if you put yourself in their shoes and make their work easier, you get extra points for consideration!

Grab That Phone!

Yes, we know that writing an e-mail is quicker and easier. Oh, the temptations of technology!... However, (big one here!) how you communicate your decision shows an awful lot about you. Showing up to a conversation, either by phone or personally, will show respect and professionalism, and the company will remember that.

Communicate Your Reasons

In most situations, it is worth explaining, even briefly, why you have decided to turn down the job. It might be salary or benefits, the nature of the work or something else, but your input will usually help companies revise what they offer in order to be more competitive and get their preferred candidates. They will thank you for it!

Another Key-Word: Appreciation

Show that you appreciated their interest in you as well as the offer and explain what you liked about the company or the job. Also, thank all of the people involved in your recruitment process (after all, they did invest their time and attention in you!) and, in case you know of someone who could potentially be a good fit, recommend them.

Keep the Door Open

The future is unknown and, even if it didn’t work out this time, perhaps something good can come out of your new connection in the future. Often, the most important thing is the people we meet, and the networks made throughout recruitment interviews are often useful. So, at the end of this process, leave an open door and mention that you hope there will be opportunities to work together in the future. Wink!

Now, you may know about these already, but some don’ts are worth mentioning too:

- If you’re lucky enough to receive multiple job offers, do not fall for the temptation of accepting lots of them. Eventually, you will find yourself in a complicated position that will be difficult to manage.

- Also, as soon as you make your decision to turn down the job, let the company know about it. Do not procrastinate and do not lead the company on.

- Only enter negotiations if you think there is a real possibility of taking the offer up. Otherwise, you will be wasting everyone’s time (and time is precious).

- Even if there were parts of the interview process that you are not happy about, do not bad mouth the company. Those are issues for them to deal with and it is possible that what you say will come back later to bite you later.

Yes, dear friends… we know that turning down a job offer is never easy. However, it is all part of finding the right job! By following our tips, you will simplify the process and keep positive relationships.

And, remember: we learn a lot by being in difficult situations. Take the opportunity to learn about the power of sincerity, transparency and setting your own boundaries.

Oh, and by the way, if you are looking for a new role, have you checked out our latest career opportunities?