turn down a job offer

How to Turn Down a Job Offer

With the IT market flooded with opportunities, many Information Technology professionals are having to turn down a job offer. Whether the position doesn’t seem like the right fit for you or you’ve gotten a better offer at another company, it’s hard to know how to approach rejecting a job offer. These steps will help you turn down a job offer the right way with professionalism, politeness, and empathy.

1. Eliminate doubt

You’ve spent hours trying to impress and you’ve finally succeeded! They’re extending a job offer your way but something feels off. You’ve changed your mind. Sometimes your reasons are solid and unwavering—circumstances like finding out the company is unstable, sudden emergency situations that prevent you from taking a new role right now, and having a second job offer you undoubtedly prefer are a few examples of this. Other times, something about the offer is making you uncertain, leaning towards a no. If you’re going to turn down an offer you’ll be closing the door at a company you tried so hard to be a part of, possibly permanently.

Because of this, you’ll want to make sure there’s no doubt in your mind that this job offer is completely wrong for you. Make pro and con lists, talk with your family and find more concrete reasons for saying no. This will help you feel more secure in your decision and you’ll be able to clearly articulate your reasoning when the time to turn down the offer comes. If you’re second-guessing a move because your current boss has extended a counteroffer, don’t let that dissuade you so easily. Seventy percent of employees who accept counteroffers find themselves job hunting again within six months, either because they still aren’t happy or they’ve been fired.

2. Let them know as soon as possible

Think about how stressed out you were waiting for the job offer. Even if it only took a few hours, that time feels so much longer when you’re in it. The employers are going through those same stresses right now, eagerly awaiting your response. It’s intimidating to face that excitement knowing you’re going to have to turn them down, but don’t put off telling them until the last minute. Once you’re secure in your decision it’s time to let the employer know so they can move on and restart their job search. It may take a while for you to make a final decision and you should not reject a job offer unless you’re sure. Do this as quickly as possible so that the employer can go back to searching for a more willing IT professional to fill their role.

3. Reject them with humanity

Have you ever been broken up over a text message? The impersonal nature of it lacks class and empathy. The same thing goes for a job offer rejection. Whenever possible, do it over email. A close relative to a formal letter, the email adds a layer of professionalism without taking up too much of the hiring manager’s time. This will not only reflect well on your professionalism, but it also won’t make you seem like you’re taking the easy way out. The employer doesn’t necessarily need to have a back-and-forth conversation with you when you’ve already made up your mind. Compose a thoughtful, concise email and send it their way. If you’re working with a recruiter, send the email to the recruiter as well, that way they know all loose ends are tied up.

4. Express your appreciation

At the beginning of the email, you should always mention how much you appreciate the offer and how you’re grateful for the opportunity. Because aren’t you? You put yourself out there and this organization validated that you have valuable skills worthy of their time. Maybe the offer didn’t come out exactly as you’d hoped, but it’s natural to appreciate that they made an offer at all. Starting your rejection on this positive note acknowledges the time they spent with you. It will help you appear empathetic, professional, and aware of the effort it took on their side to make this happen.

5. Skip the lengthy explanation

You don’t need to sugar coat it or lie, you have specific reasons for turning this role down. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to express them. Whether you’re going for a more competitive offer, are wary of the lack of up-to-date technologies used in this role, or simply feel you’re not the right fit for their company culture, hiring managers may be offended by detailed explanations of what their company is doing wrong for you. There’s a polite, professional balance you can strike by being frank about your decision to accept another role but don’t disclose your pet peeves about their organization.

6. Don’t burn a bridge

Maybe you love the company but this role just isn’t right for you. Maybe you aren’t a fan of the company but got along well with a few of the people who interviewed you. Whatever the case, there’s always a good reason to stay in touch. This will help expand your professional network in a natural way. Finish your email by thanking them for their time and exchange contact information for future considerations, should the opportunity present itself down the road.

While it’s never a pleasant exchange, turning down a job offer in a professional manner is a part of many IT professionals’ hiring process. With these steps in mind, you’ll be better prepared for the process. Good luck and remember to let them down easy!

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