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How To Decline A Job Offer With Class

It’s always an honor to receive a job offer. Unfortunately, not all job offers are worth accepting.

If you’ve ever received an offer that wasn’t quite what you wanted, you’ve probably wondered how to decline a job offer with class.

There is a way to decline a job offer with class and without insulting the person or company making the offer. And it’s really not that hard to do. In fact, you can decline a job offer with class in 5 simple steps:

  1. Give Your Reply Quickly

Give your reply as quickly as possible. If you’ve been offered a job, it’s likely you’ve been through at least 2 rounds of interviews. If you’ve made it to the offer stage, you’ve already had lots of time to think about the position — and whether or not it’s a step you want to take.

As a rule of thumb, ask for 24 hours to get back to them. A full day gives you time to think about the offer, to discuss it with family or others whose opinions you trust, and to make a final decision.

If the company has to reach back out to you, it will only make you look bad. Turning down a job offer is never a conversation that someone wants to have — but it’s best to get it over with as quickly as possible.

  1. Call First, Write Later

It’s common to decline a job in writing so that the company has something to save in its records. But make sure you call first. To decline a job in writing only seems cold and unappreciative.

What do you say on your call? Check out Nos. 3–5 below to find out.

  1. Express Your Gratitude

Always start by saying how appreciative you are to have been given the opportunity. When a company makes a full-time job offer, they are saying that they want to invest in you. Be gracious and let them know how much you appreciate their willingness to make that investment.

You don’t have to go on and on. Simply begin the conversation by saying something like: “I want to start by saying how much I appreciate this offer. I really enjoyed getting to know you and your company through the interview process, and I want to say ‘thank you’ for all the time you invested in getting to know me.”

  1. Give One, Logical Reason

After you’ve expressed your gratitude, there’s a big “but” coming. For example, you’re thankful for the offer, BUT …

You may have several reasons for declining the job. Choose the most relevant, logical and prominent of those reasons. It could be that the salary’s too low, that the role doesn’t sound like something you’d be fully engaged in, that the corporate culture doesn’t sound like a good fit, etc.

Give your most prominent reason for declining the job interview, and keep it vague. By offering too much detail, or by offering several reasons for declining the job, the company you’re turning down may start to feel bombarded with negativity — which makes it hard for you to execute on No. 5 below.

  1. Keep the Opportunity Warm

You never know what the future holds. The company you’re turning down may have a future opportunity that you really want, or one of the people you interviewed with may move to a company where you really want to work.

So keep the opportunity warm. As you turn down the job, let the person you’re speaking with know that you’d like to stay in touch. Then, a few days later, send a thank you note that says the same thing: “I just wanted to thank you again for taking time to interview me. I hope we can stay in touch in the coming months, and please don’t hesitate to contact me if there’s anything I can do for you.”

You may need to call on that company or that person later down the road, and it’s far better to have stayed in touch and built a relationship in the time that has passed since you turned down the job.

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