One of the greatest feelings in the world is receiving a job offer. Not only is it flattering to learn you are the best fit for a role and someone sees potential in you, but it’s also incredibly validating when all your hard work pays off.
Being selected as the best professional for a job should put you on cloud nine, but what if you are struggling to accept the offer? Whatever the reason you are thinking of declining a job offer, you must remember to conduct yourself respectfully and professionally.
Here are 5 helpful tips you can use when professionally declining a job offer:
When you think about how to professionally decline a job offer, put yourself in the position of the hiring manager
1. Make Sure You Are Making the Right Decision
Before you decline an offer of employment, take a final moment to make absolutely certain you are not interested in the job. After you tell an employer you are no longer interested in working for them, you can’t exactly change your mind.
Before informing the hiring leader of your decision, ask yourself:
- Why am I not interested in this job?
- Is the reason I am not interested in this job likely to change anytime soon?
- Is there a chance I will regret turning down this job?
- Will taking this job help me get where I want to be in the long run?
If answering these questions did not provide clarity, try making a list of pros and cons; your list should include all of the different criteria that are important to you in your job search:
- Company culture
- Professional development opportunities
- Distance from home, hours, etc.
Assess how well the job offer satisfies these requirements, then rank the different categories in order of importance, and make sure to note if there are any non-negotiables.
If you are still stuck, it can help to talk things through with somebody you trust like a friend, a parent, a spouse, or a trusted colleague. Once you have decided with certainty that you’re no longer interested in a job opportunity, it’s time to let the company you’ve been interviewing with know.
2. When to Break the News
No one expects you to accept a job offer immediately after it has been extended. Do not be afraid to ask for time to mull things over. Usually, potential employers are understanding if you need some time to make your decision when receiving an offer. Twenty-four to 48 hours is a pretty standard amount of time to chew things over and get back to a company. That being said, it is a best practice to ask a potential employer the timeframe they need an answer by (and it is respectful, too).
If you need more time to make your decision, don’t be afraid to ask, but be prepared to give a specific reason for your request. For example, you may have another offer on the table you’re waiting to hear on, or you could even be interviewing with another company. Most employers are aware that their position is not the only one you have applied to, and will typically be respectful to the fact you need to make the best decision for your career.
3. How to Break the News
If you have made up your mind before the deadline, let the company know ASAP. Not only does this help soften the blow, but it also allows them to fill their job as quickly as possible.
Some people choose to turn down a job offer over email, which, in most cases, is perfectly fine; however, if you really want to be professional, a phone call is the gold standard of communication. Understandably, not everyone is a phone call person, but it does offer a more personal touch and obliges both parties to be present and focused on the conversation at hand.
Phone calls can also help you avoid any miscommunication that can sometimes arise from written messages. At all costs, AVOID TEXTING.
If you are declining a job because it’s simply not a good time for you to take on the role, be sure to state that in your response, as well as the fact you would love to keep in touch and stay up to date on future opportunities.
4. Why You Should Never Become a “Ghost”
“Ghosting” is a term that originated in the early 2000s. It was originally used in the dating world, but it has since migrated into all facets of present-day language. In the professional world, a person who suddenly stops all communication without warning, and will not respond to any attempts to contact is called a ghost.
NEVER GHOST IN THE PROFESSIONAL WORLD. NEVER!!! If you ghost a hiring professional on a job offer (or, really anything, for that matter), it will never be forgotten.
As a recruiter, their willingness to work with you in the future will fade, as your behavior has shown them you are unreliable and disrespectful.
When you ghost someone, do not be surprised if you find yourself unable to work for this company or the person you ghosted for the rest of your career. You never know who you will meet in the future; it is impossible to know who someone is connected to professionally (or personally), and you don't want to burn any professional bridges before you have had the chance to even build them.
5. The Importance of Giving Feedback
When you decline a job offer, you may be asked for help to improve a company's hiring process moving forward. If this happens, feel free to share your feedback, but be careful with what you say.
Something too blunt like, “The hiring manager was a jerk”, won’t go over well, but saying you connected better with another company’s team environment is honest and is a more effective way to have your constructive feedback heard.
Putting It All Together
When you think about how to professionally decline a job offer, put yourself in the position of the hiring manager. A considerable amount of time, resources, and energy (from both you and the company) went into the process that led to you being offered a job. You never want to appear disrespectful, unappreciative, or inconsiderate of this.
If you’re ever in doubt of what to say when declining a job offer, thanking your company contact(s) for their time and being honest, direct, and professional with your communication is always a sure bet to be seen as professional.