How to turn down a job offer

Last week I received an email asking how to turn down a job offer.  You’re probably saying “Turn down a job offer!  Why would I do that?  I’m trying to get a job!”

I know I’m probably jumping the gun here but I’m going to show you how to solve a problem you will soon have: having too many job offers. Yes, it’s true. Believe it or not, whether you’re on the autism spectrum or not, there will be a point (soon I promise) where you’ll get not one, but two and maybe even three job offers.

When it rains, it pours

I always like to tell the students of my coaching program that when it rains, it pours. I’ve seen it over and over again to where people get two job offers in the same week whereas before they started working with me they had gone 6 months without even getting an interview. When you start getting job offers, they come at you hard and fast.

First world problems two job offers.jpg


Today I’m going to show how to turn a job offer down in a way that’s professional, respectful, and doesn’t burn any bridges. Remember, just because you’re not working with them this time, doesn’t mean you won’t be working with them sometime during your career.

Turning down a job offer isn’t a terrible thing and it won’t brand you as someone that’s ungrateful or too big for their britches. I actually spend quite some time coaching people on this because it’s something they truly struggle with. I think it’s because it can be hard to go from hoping and wishing you get any job to getting having to pick from two or more awesome jobs.

It’s not about the money

Some job offers are easy to turn down because they’re bad jobs. Either they pay too little and aren’t willing to negotiate, there isn’t room for professional development, you don’t like the people, or the company just plain sucks.

The hard decision is when you have two great offers. They may both pay the same, same benefits, great people. Both of them are the whole package. This is when you have to make a decision based on what you want. When you’re making a decision on what job offer to take, you have to really think about what the pros and cons of your choice, what each particular job can help you achieve now and in the future. It’s not as easy as choosing a job that pays you more. Sometimes it’s about choosing the job that will prepare you for the next job.

At the end of the day, you have to make the decision based on what you want now and what you want in the future. You have to make the choice based on what’s best for you and not on how it’s going to make other people feel. “I don’t want to disappoint them. They’re such a great company and everyone was super nice” and that may be true, however, this is a business decision and their feelings don’t really matter. Think about it another way: Would a company make you a job offer just so their feelings wouldn’t get hurt? Absolutely not. They made an offer because it made business sense to hire you instead of someone else.

So how do I do it?

First off, make sure you already have a signed offer letter from the company you want to work at. You wouldn’t want to turn down a job offer only to find out that you don’t have the other.

Another thing, no matter how you do it, the people you’re turning down are going to be disappointed and frankly, that’s not your problem. No matter what, you want to maintain the level of professionalism they’ve come to expect from you throughout the whole interview process. Anyone can be polite when a company is wining and dining you to convince you to work for them. A true professional is the one who can maintain that level of professionalism when it’s time to deliver bad news.

“Hi NAME OF CONTACT,

Thank you very much for your offer. After much consideration, I have decided to go with a different company. I was very impressed by the whole team and the recruitment experience. I hope we will be able to work together sometime in the future.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME”

Notice how I don’t include the name of the company you’re going to, or why I chose the other company, or any type of explanation. Your decision isn’t up for consideration or change. You’ve made a decision and you’re sticking to it.

As a side note, this is very much like breaking up with your boyfriend/girlfriend. It’s better to just be straightforward, honest, and decisive about it. Would you tell your ex all the reasons why you’re breaking up with them, who you’ll be going out with next, and why this new person is better than your ex? Absolutely not! That’s why restraining orders were created.

Same goes for job offers. You never know how they’re going to take it and frankly, it’s none of their business so don’t give them extra info they don’t need.

The company you turned down may reach out to you and ask you all types of questions (same goes for exes) and it’s up to you to decide what you want to let them know. I personally like to stick to my guns and just tell them that that other job was a better fit for me long term. Why don’t you want to get into specifics? Well, for starters, it’s doubtful that they’ll try to negotiate at this point or change any other terms. Second, If they’re willing to throw in more money/benefits now, why wouldn’t they do it at the beginning when it was time to negotiate? Third, if you chose another job based on things besides money/benefits, that means that the job you turned down would have to radically change what they would give you career-wise. Not only that, they would have to change it so much that it would be better than the other offer. This is very unlikely to happen. Along those lines, changing your mind about jobs because they offer you a couple thousand dollars more after you’ve made a decision, in my opinion, shows a lack of character. At some point you will have to make a decision and stick to it. Remember, not making a decision is a decision itself.

Be Bold!

Ramon