Sometimes you have to make the difficult decision to turn down a job offer. It’s never easy to make that decision, and sometimes telling a hiring manager or recruiter is even tougher. The most important thing is that you don’t burn any bridges.
When you decline a job offer, be prompt. Once you’ve made your decision, let the hiring manager know. There’s no reason to drag things out, and the longer you take to respond, the harder the hiring manager’s job will be. They have to restart their search, so don’t leave them hanging because you’re nervous to officially decline.
The most common method of declining a job offer is to send an email. Keep it professional and be sure to end it with ‘thanks’, ‘best’, or ‘regards’, rather than something colder like ‘sincerely’. Get right to the point and let them know you’re turning down their offer, but also express your gratitude for the opportunity.
To turn down a job offer without burning bridges, keep these four things in mind:
Don’t ghost the hiring manager or recruiter.
Ghosting is never acceptable. It’s disrespectful and rude to simply disappear without an explanation. It speaks quite negatively of your character and can easily jeopardize your chances of landing a job in the future.
The business world is smaller than you might think, so you never know who the hiring manager will talk to. Perhaps they’re friends with someone from another company you’re interview with. You want them to remember you as a person who was qualified and trustworthy, not solely as the candidate who ghosted them. If you worked with a recruiter, you want them to remember you as both a good candidate and a considerate person.
Don’t feel obligated to provide details.
You have every right to turn down a job offer, and you’re under no obligation to give details why. All the hiring manager really needs to know is that you won’t be taking the job. Keep your message short and sweet, and be clear that you’re declining their offer. A simple message that thanks the hiring manager for the opportunity and lets them know that unfortunately you’re declining the offer is sufficient.
Thank the hiring manager for their time and for the opportunity. Saying thank you shows respect for the company, and the sentiment will be very much appreciated. It’s the little things like this that set you apart from other candidates, even when you’re turning down an offer. In the future, you might cross paths with the hiring manager again. You want them to remember something positive about you, and saying thank you will help ensure that’s the case.
Sometimes a phone call is better.
Email isn’t always the best way to turn down a job offer. If you’ve built up a rapport with the hiring manager, or if a lot of communication throughout the interview process was done by phone, that should be how you decline the offer as well. Admittedly, it can be a bit more awkward over the phone, but it’s more personal. You can express your gratitude for the opportunity and sense of regret in turning down the offer through the tone of your voice. If you call the hiring manager and they don’t pick up, you can either try calling again later or leave a voicemail.