How to Professionally Turn Down a Job Offer

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Covid-19 has taken its toll on many job seekers. Whether you were looking for a new career or you have had to start searching for a job because you have unfortunately been laid off because of so many businesses struggling at the moment, the job market has changed dramatically. People’s need for work has taken a turn in a different direction because their financial needs are fighting against their career goals. 

People have been pretty desperate for work so, what do you do when you get the good news that you’ve been offered a job, but are stuck between the pressure of feeling as though you can’t let an opportunity pass during the pandemic and whether or not the job is right for you and you want to accept?

Regardless of the current times, there’s a hold thing that is the same, declining a job can sometimes be difficult for both parties. You know that you need to be open and honest, but you also want to make sure you retain a good impression and not burn bridges. 

There are ways that you can decline a job offer during the COVID-19 pandemic without ruining your relationships and keeping your reputation intact: 

Related: What Are The Highest Paying Tech Jobs?

Reasons to Turn Down a Job Offer 

There are many reasons you may want to turn down a job offer:

  • It may be that the pay they are offering is not what you were hoping or aiming for. 
  • You decided the working environment or company ethics weren’t what you were looking for
  • you don’t want to relocate or you can’t transfer at the moment
  • You don’t want to train remotely during the lockdown and would prefer to wait until the pandemic is over, and move to the location of the job to get training in the office.

Whatever your reason is, if it’s there then it’s probably there for a good reason, it’s best to make sure you get rid of any niggles before you commit to a job. 

-Salary and Benefits 

There is no problem at all in you turning down a job offer because you aren’t happy with the salary or benefits that they are offering. Probably, even more so during COVID-19, you can’t risk moving into a position that has a lower salary that you were previously receiving. You shouldn’t feel guilty about wanting more for yourself when it comes to salary and benefits, especially if you have been financially dependent on a specific wage or have been used to having the use of a company car or mobile phone etc. 

-Company Culture or Finances 

A lot of people have had their finances completely destroyed during the COVID-19 pandemic, whether it’s through a drop in wages because you’re on a zero-hour contract, your business has had to cease trading, or because you are unable to receive help from the government, this makes it even more essential to make sure you are getting a job that meets your financial requirements. It’s also perfectly fine to turn down a job offer because you don’t believe in their company culture or values. When you have an interview, it allows you to ask any company about these, if there is anything you don’t like, then there is nothing wrong with turning down a job offer. 

Things You should Be Doing

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-Show Appreciation

Even if you do turn down a job offer, you should always make sure you show your appreciation, whether it’s thanking the recruiting company like HIRECLOUT or expressing your sincere thanks to the person/people who interviewed you directly.

When you decline an offer, make sure you let them know how much you appreciate the offer and the fact they chose you above other candidates. Whether you share your thoughts via telephone or send a follow-up email directly to your interviewer, it will go a long way to maintaining a good relationship with the company in case there are any further opportunities.  

-Let the Company Know as Soon as Possible 

A sure-fire way to ruin any relationship you have with a company is to make them wait too long for a response. Ok, you need to take the time to think about the opportunity presented to you, but if you wait too long, they might miss out on another ideal candidate who they were also considering, and you risk burning any bridges you have built with them. 

You should also think of it like this, if they decide to offer the position to someone else, wouldn’t you want to find out sooner rather than later so you can look for something else? 

-Tell Them Your Decision Over the Phone 

We now have to make use of tools like phones and the internet to help make remote working more comfortable and efficient. How you communicate with people speaks volumes about you. Talking to them over the phone is going to leave them with a much better impression of you. Speaking with someone over the phone is more professional than emailing your decision as using email gives the impression that you’re taking the easy way out. Showing your willingness to speak to them directly after they took the time to interview you is far more beneficial in the long run and helps to preserve any connections you may have made

Make sure you phone first, and then you can follow up with a letter or email after. You should not leave a voicemail with your response. If you need to leave a voicemail, try to let them know when you will be calling back. 

Related: The 10 Best Employee Retention Strategies

-When Can You Use Email?

You can still use email to correspond with the company. You should just ideally not be using it as a way to decline any offer of employment. The only time you should use email to respond to a job offer is when they have solely corresponded with you this way. Another way you can utilize email is to follow up after any phone call or to thank any other people within the company you have dealt with, such as members of HR, a secretary, or the company that helped put you in touch. Although they may be disappointed with your decision, it’s still polite. 

-Be Honest About Your Reason for Rejecting the Job Offer 

‘Honesty is the best policy’ is the right approach to take when declining a job offer. You should provide as much detail as possible about the reasons you are. If you liked the position but can’t accept because you’ve been offered another position with better benefits or salary, then say just that. It allows them to revise their offer or become more competitive for other candidates. You might even find they try to fight for you because they feel that you are the right person for the position. 

-Compliment the Company 

You should take the opportunity to compliment the company that you are turning down. Mention specific positive attributes that drew you to the company in the first place and about the experience you had with the company. There must be something you like about the company for you even to consider applying in the first place, let alone go for an interview, so let them know what it was. This reassures them; they will then know that interviewing you wasn’t a waste of their time. 

-Leave the Door Open for Future Opportunity 

Just because you are turning down a particular job role doesn’t mean you didn’t like the company and like the opportunity to work for them in the future. You should keep the door open for any future opportunities that arise. Indicate to them that you would like to stay in touch and would love to be thought about when a more suitable position becomes available. 

-Provide a Recommendation  

If the position wasn’t right for you, but you know of an ideal candidate to fill the role, it’s great if you can provide a recommendation. It might be that you and your colleagues have all lost work because your employer has had to stop trading, so you know someone who has the right skills to fill the role that you are turning down. Not only are you helping someone you know to gain an opportunity, you are also making up for the fact you are turning it down yourself, but companies also don’t forget this. 

Get connected to amazing job opportunities with HIRECLOUT!

Things to Avoid When Turning Down a Job Offer

– Accepting Multiple Job Offers 

If you accept more than one job offer, not only is it unprofessional, but it’s also burning any chance of building bridges with one or more companies. In the long-run, this may damage your reputation. Competitors do talk, especially when it comes to recruitment and headhunting. Don’t damage your reputation and destroy your chance of a good career with or in your industry. Instead, you should take some time to consider the positions on offer and decline respectfully. 

-Being Brutally Honest 

Although it’s essential for you to be as honest as possible, being too honest can be even more damaging. Things like not liking the person who interviewed you or thinking they were incompetent aren’t going to get you very far; instead, try saying things like ‘ I didn’t think that management style was suited to me’ or ‘ I don’t think I fit into the existing team.’ 

-Talking Negatively About the Company 

No good is likely to come from you speaking badly about any company that has taken the time to interview you and offer you a position. It’s going to make you look unprofessional. Only when something serious has occurred should you speak badly about a company. 

-Ignoring the Offer 

Ok, so it’s likely to be a difficult and awkward conversation when turning down a position. However, this isn’t an excuse to ignore them completely. You should always make sure you make contact with a company that has spent time selecting you, interviewing, and then offering you a position. It’s polite and makes you look more professional. 

-Leading the Company On 

 It’s not beneficial to you or the company for you to lead them on. Make sure you give them an answer as soon as you have come to a decision, even if that decision is turning them down. 

-Turning Down an Offer Too Soon 

You have to make sure you take the right amount of time to consider any job offer that is given to you. This means you shouldn’t jump to a decision because you feel like you need to during these challenging times. Striking the right balance is the key to making the right decision about whether or not to turn down an offer.

HIRECLOUT can get you the right tech job


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It’s important to remember that any job offer is an achievement, and that should be recognized, however, if it’s not right for you, then you should seriously consider not accepting. Yes, times are hard at the moment, more and more people are feeling the desperation behind securing work and maintaining their financial circumstances, but this still shouldn’t be a reason to accept a job that isn’t a good fit for you. 

Related: How To Crush Your Second Interview (With Example Questions)

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