You applied for the job because you initially thought you were interested. But somewhere along the hiring process, you either learned something about the company that turned you off or you were accepted somewhere else that fit all your needs.
You know that the company spent time and money reviewing your resume, contacting you, interviewing you, etc., and so it can be tough to decline an offer.
However, you should still handle the situation professionally, politely, and diplomatically. Here are some tips to help you along the way.
1. Let them know as soon as you’ve made up your mind
Don’t dawdle on letting them know your decision. Even though it can be awkward to turn down a job offer, don’t ignore them. They’ve put time and money into interviewing you and all that goes into the hiring process, so be respectful and let them know as soon as you’ve decided that the offer isn’t a good fit for you.
2. Give them a phone call
Yes, sending an email is easy. But getting on the phone and letting someone know you’re declining their job offer is much more personal. They can hear your tone and it will leave a much more positive and lasting impression.
3. If you’ve spoken to more than one person in the hiring process, follow up with all of them
Sometimes your hiring process will put you in contact with numerous people at the company. If several people have interviewed you, send them all a thank you note expressing your appreciation for their time and consideration.
4. Write a rejection letter
For all parties to be clear on the situation, it’s best to have your rejection in writing. Be brief and, of course, keep it professional. Include thanks and a reason for declining, whether that be accepting a position elsewhere or honestly saying that your goals didn’t match. Mention that you’d like to keep in touch, and if you’d like to keep the door open, say that you hope to have an opportunity to work with them again sometime in the future.
5. Don’t use the word “rejection”
Try to keep everything positive, so avoid the word “rejection.” Rather, politely say that you “decline” their generous offer. You don’t want to burn any bridges.
6. Mention what you liked about them
Don’t be disingenuous with your praise, but if you were honestly impressed with something as you got to know the company, mention it! Naturally expressing your positive impression will only leave you on better terms, and it should always be your goal to be on good terms with all of your professional contacts.
7. If you can, offer a referral
If you can think of someone that could be a perfect fit for the position, let the company know. It will show that it really is nothing personal, but that you just aren’t the right fit. It could also genuinely help them find another candidate in a quicker way than starting the hiring process over again.
8. Maintain your contacts
Although you may think your connection with this particular company is over, it’s not! Think of all the people you’ve come into contact with at the company. They thought positively enough of you to offer the job. You should always be trying to extend your network, and now isn’t any different. Connect with them on LinkedIn, save their email addresses and phone numbers, and if something comes up that reminds you of them, send them a note.
After reading these tips, you’re all set to decline this particular job offer and move on to bigger and better ventures. Don’t let an awkward situation compromise your professionalism, and be clear and friendly about your rejection.
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