How to Graciously Turn Down a Job

by Ruth Altman

Getting multiple job offers at once is like winning the proverbial career lottery. But when it comes to picking the best offer and turning down the rest, many job seekers get squeamish. But there’s nothing to fear in communicating your decision as long as you do so graciously, honestly and with utmost respect.

Respect Is the Name of the Game

In all communications, your goal is to be respectful to the employer when handling the news. Always give the employer a call to communicate your decision, and remember that employers should not take your declination personally. In any professional setting, declining a job is just a part of the recruiting process. Be straightforward about your decision and offer insightful feedback for the employer when delivering the news. Be honest.

Be Confident

Avoiding awkwardness when it comes to delivering the news is also dependent on your own confidence in your decision. If you’ve debated whether to take the job, running different scenarios in your head before finally coming to a decision, breaking the news may be more uncomfortable than if you’re completely sure the job is not for you. Be sure you’ve considered all options and that you feel 100 percent confident about your decision before calling the hiring manager.

Be Specific

When calling the hiring manager, have specific, reasonable and honest motives for declining the job. If you’re declining the position because another opportunity is a better fit for you, communicate that to the hiring manager. If you’ve been offered more money, it’s a good idea to use compensation as an explanation if it’s at least $10,000 more annually. You may want to fortify your reasoning with other important factors such as job location, schedule, stability or future promotions and career path.

Follow Up

In many cases, it’s appropriate to follow up with the hiring manager by sending your contact information. You can also send a thank you note to make the exchange more personal. Don’t hesitate to send a note by mail along with your new business card. It’s okay to let hiring managers know where you ended up -- and you never know when one of them may be an ally when it comes to your next job hunting opportunity.

About the Author

Ruth Altman writes on business, lifestyle and careers. She holds a Master of Arts degree from Pepperdine University in addition to a bachelor's degree from Harvard University.

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