Thursday, March 01, 2007

Declining Job Offers

How do you decline a job offer for a job you don't want and you have not accepted another offer. All of the sample "decline job offer" letters have the magical sentence included that says, "I have accepted another position which more closely matches my skills and goals." What if you haven't accepted another position but you just don't want their job offer for whatever reason?

All of the advice says to be honest because you may cross paths again and network in the future. So, without being negative (and just telling the offering agency, "Nah...I think it would suck to work in that depressing office all day long."), how do you decline a job offer when you really haven't accepted another position?

by Bridget Oakes, Senior Search Consultant

This is an interesting situation, and one that more and more candidates seem to be facing. I had a look around online for some offer rejection letters and found that you are right, they all include the magic words “another opportunity.”

I like as a resource for sample letters for candidates. Although their sample job rejection letter references “another offer," the site provides this advice for a Job Rejection Letter by Alison Doyle:

When you have decided to reject a job offer, you may want to let the employer know in writing that you are declining the offer. Your letter should be polite, brief, and to the point. You don't want to burn bridges and this employer may have a better offer for you down the road. So, don't get into any specifics. Even if the hours are awful, the work environment is terrible or the pay isn't enough to make ends meet, don't mention it.

You should include the following:
• Thanks and appreciation for the offer
• Written rejection of the job offer
• Address the letter to the person who offered you the position. Include your contact information and phone number, even though it is on file with the employer.

I believe this is sound advice. I would keep the letter short and simple, and replace the magic phrase “I have accepted another opportunity” with something like “I have decided to pursue other opportunities” or “I have decided to pursue an alternate career path at this time.”

Basically, think of all the “form letter” rejections you’ve gotten when applying to jobs, and steal the phraseology from them. You don’t need to be specific, but you need to be clear.

Oh, and don’t leave the employer hanging. Let them know as soon as possible that you will not be taking the job. No matter how nice your rejection letter is, keeping them waiting is a sure way to burn that bridge.

Bridget Oakes is a Senior Search Consultant with Partners in Technology. With nearly 10 years experience in executive search and recruiting, she is well equipped to provide advice and guidance to candidates searching for new careers, and welcomes the opportunity to do so through Job Lounge.

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