How to Turn Down an Offer without Burning a Bridge
You’ve submitted a series of tailored resumes and exceptional cover letters, aced video interviews and second rounds of in-person interviews, and it’s all paid off! But maybe it is paid off too well, and now you have to choose between multiple opportunities. How do you turn down an offer, but keep a positive connection?
It may feel awkward, but do not delay
It is an uncomfortable conversation to have—I like you, but not enough! You may be tempted to put it off, but do not. After all, the company needs to know they will have to find someone else to fill the position.
Sincerely thank them for their time
Interviewing and making job offers is a process for the person doing it. They spent valuable hours reading through your resume, looking over your portfolio, and most likely researching your online presence. And that is all before you had your first conversation. The process of vetting candidates takes time. And then there is the time it takes to set up calls or in-person interviews. All of this adds up, and it is good to acknowledge that fact. Be genuine and specific, and let them know you appreciate the opportunity to interview and the offer itself.
Thank you for the offer for the ________ position. I enjoyed hearing more about the role, discussing your favorite things about working at ________, and learning a bit more about the company and how your team has focused on employee engagement when most of the office works remote.
Tell them why you are turning down the offer
You could tell you would not have a good relationship with your potential boss, the compensation was subpar, once you learned more about the role it seemed boring… These are all genuine reasons to turn down an offer, and, while it could be helpful for the recruiter to know their offers are too low or there were not enough opportunities for growth, you can be honest without being harsh. Keep it brief, kind, and not too specific. For example:
Thank you so much for the offer, but I have decided to accept another position where I will be able to use more of my background in ______, and there is an education stipend.
Or if you are planning to stay where you are:
I have recently been made aware of a growth opportunity at my current company I would like to pursue, and I have decided to stay, but thank you so much for the offer.
Both of these fill the recruiter in on information that might help the company make their offer more attractive to a future candidate by gently letting them know what was missing from their package.
Keep in touch
If you felt a connection with the hiring manager or genuinely liked the company and are interested in a role there (just not the role you were offered), ask to keep in touch. Growing your network is a good thing, and you never know how that connection might help both of you in the future.
I know you will find the perfect person for the role, and I would like to keep in touch. I am excited about the work your company is doing and would like to be considered for future opportunities in ______, working with the _____ team if a position becomes available. Would you be open to connecting on LinkedIn?
Or, if you do not necessarily want to connect on social, but want to close on a positive note:
I enjoyed talking with you about the company and its plans for growth. You have exciting days ahead there. ____ is a small world, and I am sure our paths will cross again. Looking forward to it!
Rejection is no fun for the rejector or the rejected, but there are ways to take away the sting. At the end of the day, it is just business. Keep in mind what you would want to know if you were in their shoes and write your note accordingly. Oh, and congratulations on multiple opportunities to move forward in your career!