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The Right Way to Reject a Job Offer

By Maurie Backman - Jan 10, 2019 at 11:18AM

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Go easy on those employers whose opportunities you're passing up.

In today's healthy job market, strong candidates are apt to find themselves in high demand. If you're in that category, you might find that you're getting job offers left and right -- offers you'll need to reject until the perfect one lands in your lap.

Turning down a job offer, however, can be an awkward and uncomfortable process -- kind of like closing out a bad date and hoping the classic "it's not you, it's me" excuse flies. Here's how to reject a job offer the right way without it coming back to bite you later on.

1. Express your gratitude

It takes time on the employer side to read your resume, go through the interview process, and put together an official offer designed to entice you. If you're going to reject that offer, do so graciously. Acknowledge the time the company in question put into considering you, and express your regrets for having to decline. This will help soften the blow.

Man in suit giving a thumbs-down.


2. Give a concrete explanation

If you've ever not gotten a job you've applied for, you probably wanted to know why you weren't hired. Well, the same holds true on the employer side. Companies will often want to know what it is that's driving you to reject an offer, so be prepared to share that information. If the salary at hand is too low, say so. If you feel that there's not enough growth potential or that the company isn't a stable enough place for you to build your future, share that as well. This will give the employer in question something to work with going forward, and your help in that regard will no doubt be appreciated.

3. Leave the door open for future discussions

Maybe the offer on the table is a mismatch at present. But you never know how your own needs might evolve in the future or what opportunities might arise at the company in question a year or two down the line. When rejecting a job offer, it's generally best to indicate that while you can't accept at present, you're interested in staying in touch and exploring possibilities in the future. But be prepared to make good on that promise by reaching out sporadically to that company once you're set up elsewhere. This way, your name will stay on its radar. And if you part ways initially on good terms, that company will have no reason not to consider you again.

There's no sense in accepting a job offer when the position is wrong for you. At the same time, there's a smart way to turn down an offer without offending the company that's looking to hire you. Get that rejection just right, and you'll salvage your reputation at that business despite having passed up the chance to work for it.

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