Career Advice

How to Turn Down a Job

Lisa Johnson Posted by Lisa
min read

So you have been offered a job, but for whatever reason, you need to decline the offer. How do you tell them “No” without looking unprofessional?

Firstly, you don’t have to accept every job you are offered. But you should handle the situation with care and respect because, well, you don’t want to burn bridges and you never know when a poorly communicated job offer refusal can come back to haunt you.

So here are my top tips for saying “Thanks, but no thanks” whilst keeping everyone happy:

  1. Always call to decline an offer.  I know its much less stressful to send an email, or heaven forbid a text message, but you get a lot more respect for picking up the phone and talking to the company / person who offered you the job.
  2. Know what you are going to say before you call – you have turned down the job for a reason.  It can be a good idea to jot down some bullet points before you pick up the phone, it gives you something to refer to and you will make sure you cover everything off during the call.
  3. Always be respectful in your language, remember you are disappointing them, don’t compound their disappointment with rudeness or derision.
  4. Start your call by telling the potential employer that you have appreciated the time they have put into meeting with you / talking with you and that you are genuinely appreciative of the job offer – this is part of being respectful towards them.  By telling them this, you are acknowledging the time and effort they have gone to in the recruitment process and it ensures that you are not coming across as flippant and unappreciative
  5. Then tell them that after a great deal of thought you have regretfully made the decision to not accept the job offer.  You will be asked why, and this is where you need to show the most tact.  Whatever your reasons are, just be respectful in your language.

Some employers may be upset and occasionally rude when you tell them you are not accepting a job.  Don’t react to their rudeness with rudeness of your own.  There is nothing to be gained out of being rude.  They believed they were making a really good offer to you and you turning it down has offended them on an emotional level.  You and I both know that it’s not appropriate for them to take out their disappointment on you, and it is uncommon, but the best thing is to thank them again for the opportunity and then hang up the phone.

Feel free to comment below and tell me about the worst example you have had with turning down a job offer.