How to turn down a job gracefully

Susanna Kahr

We all know what applying for a new job is like. You send out application after application for months, constantly check your phone for missed calls and frantically refresh your email inbox every couple of hours to make sure you don’t miss anything. And then, after what seems like ages you suddenly land multiple interviews all at once. If you’ve found yourself in this enviable position and actually managed to land more than one job, or a job that’s not quite for you, then here are 6 tips for turning it down gracefully and preserving your bridges instead of burning them. 

Take your time to work out if you really want to decline it

If you’ve aced the interview and landed the job only to now have second thoughts about it, it’s worth taking some time to work out what it is about the job that doesn’t suit you. If you’ve got through the interview phase and been offered a job then you’re in a good position to negotiate. So, you should ask yourself if you’d take the job if they offered a better salary, benefits or level of seniority and then work out what you could ask for that would make you happier. At this point in the game, the HR managers will likely try to put pressure on you to accept the job within a certain time frame but if you provide them with a counter offer then you might just get what you want. Equally, if there aren’t any things you could ask for and you know that the job isn’t for you, then make sure to write down your reasoning and continue looking for a job that satisfies your needs. 

Don’t procrastinate

Once you’ve made the decision to decline the job you need to act fast. HR managers and recruiters don’t take kindly to jobseekers who waste time, so the best way to preserve the relationship and keep yourself in their good books is to send in your rejection letter as soon as possible. 

Show your appreciation

Another great way to stay in the HR Manager’s good books is to let them know that you appreciate their time. It’s likely that they spent a long time reading your resume, emailing and calling you, preparing for the interview and getting to know you, so the least you can do is let them know that you appreciate their time and the opportunity they’ve offered you.

Keep it short and sweet

When you sit down to write the rejection email or letter you don’t need to write an essay. Try to keep it short, sharp and to the point. Just think about your own experiences in the office and the hundreds of emails you receive during the day, you probably appreciate a short email over a long one, right?! You can add some heartfelt comments about how welcome you felt and how this was a difficult decision for you, but make sure to get to the point quickly, it is a rejection letter after all. 

Give your reasons, briefly

When it comes to your reasons for rejecting the job, you don’t need to provide too much detail or lie about it. Just be honest and give the hiring manager some idea of why you can’t accept the job at this time. If you’re declining the job in favor of another one that is better suited to your skill set, then say something like: ‘While this seems like it would be a great opportunity to learn more about (specific industry) and hone my skills, I’ve decided to decline this job in favor of one that offers me more opportunities to pursue my interests in…” No one can argue with this and it will explain why you’ve decided to reject the job without placing any blame on the company you’re rejecting. Equally, if the job just really doesn’t work for you and you don’t find it appealing at all then just let them know that it ‘doesn’t fit with my career goals at this time.’ That’ll work nicely. 

Ask them to stay in touch

Finally, if you’ve had a good interview experience and built up a good rapport with the hiring team then it’s a great idea to ask them to stay in touch with you. If you had a good conversation about a specific aspect of the job, or you found some common ground, then reference this and end your rejection letter with some nice comments about how much you’ve enjoyed the process. Also, you can ask them to let you know if any, more suitable, jobs come up for you in the future, which will save you a lot of time and effort! 

 

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