Maybe you received multiple offers and have to turn one down. (Good for you!) Or maybe the negotiations didn’t work and the salary isn’t what you wanted. Or maybe you just plain don’t want the job.
Whatever the case, understand that it’s perfectly okay - maybe even expected - to have to say “no” to an offer now and then. After all, a successful career transition ends with you in the right role - not just the first role.
(At the same time, turning down a job can also be a luxury, and you shouldn’t feel bad about taking a necessary role, or “bridge job” until you find the opportunity you want.)
If you do end up turning an offer down, here’s some advice on how to say “no” in a professional manner:
Be Quick, Be Honest
Once you’re sure that you want to turn down a job offer, the professional response is to let the employer know as soon as possible. By procrastinating, you’re only wasting their time - time they could have spent getting back to the hiring process.
This also means you shouldn’t “ghost” your employers, either. Being straightforward and honest will likely produce the best results and allow your relationship to continue.
You should also be honest, but not overly detailed, in your rejection letter. Be simple and to the point. Tell them what led you to say “no” without getting into unneeded details or sentimentality. Sometimes this can be a mismatch of employer values or because you've received a better offer at another company.
After close consideration, I’ve decided to accept a position at another company.
After much thought, I’ve decided that now is not the best time to take on the responsibilities of this position.
While this position seems like a great opportunity, I have decided to pursue a different role that will more closely match my interests in social media marketing.
“Thank you” really is the magic word during a rejection process. Let the recruiter and hiring manager know that you appreciate their time and effort. It’s important to express in your communication that you know many other people would love to receive the same offer.
Why? Because just like how you crave feedback as a job-seeker, many organizations also want feedback on their performance as a potential place to work. Letting them know that you appreciate their time and are thankful for the process is a way of giving them the feedback they need while leaving the door open for future opportunities and communication.
Speaking of which…
Keep In Touch
Remember that the world is small - especially in certain industries. Rejecting their position may not mean you never see this manager again. So it’s important to leave some pleasantries.
Offer to stay in touch and provide additional information on how to contact you. Connect with the manager on LinkedIn if you feel comfortable.
If you can reference something you discussed, like an event or a conference, do that to solidify the connection. Otherwise a simple “I wish you the best and hope we cross paths in the future” will also do.
Rejecting a job offer never feels great, and you can’t control other people’s emotional responses. But a little consideration and tact can go a long way. Rejecting an offer gracefully today can pay off big in the long run.