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Turning Down A Job Offer – Without Burning Bridges

declining a job offer

Turning down a job offer requires some care and clear communication. It is important that you have assessed the opportunity and also walk away without a burned bridge.

Your phone rings and you recognize the call as coming from the hiring manager who just interviewed you last week. While most people would be excited and quickly answer the phone, you find yourself hesitating and letting the call go to voicemail. For some reason you’re not all that eager to speak with the hiring manager – could it be because you’re not really sure if you want to take the job?

If you are out of work and searching for a job you might think that this is a dilemma you would love to have. The reality is that getting an offer for a job that you don’t want can put you in a difficult position: You don’t want to take the position, but you don’t know when (or maybe even if) a better opportunity will come along.

The reality is that you are going to have to make a choice; either you take the position or you turn it down. While you are the only person who can decide whether it makes sense to take a job that you are not interested in, there are some factors you should consider when making your decision.

What are the Pros and Cons of Accepting a Job Offer?

When evaluating a job offer, one of the best things you can do is to make a list of the pros and cons of the position.  While salary and benefits are likely to be at the top of your list, there are many other considerations. Factors such as the job title, level of responsibility, and the ability to grow professionally may be very important to you. You may also be concerned about the remote work policies, commuting distance, or company culture. Everyone is different so you need to carefully consider what is most important to you.

Possible Considerations: Professional Opportunity

Can the job help get you to where you want to be professionally in the future?

  • Dream company, just not your dream role
  • Build connections and gain the experience
  • Advancement opportunities
  • Training opportunities

Possible Considerations: Income

Can the job pay you a living wage?

  • Does the job offer benefits?
  • Is there a bonus or COL plan?
  • Does the job contribute into your 401K?
  • Can the job be a transition job until you find better employment?

Turning Down a Job Offer

Even if you ultimately decide to turn down the offer, you want to do it in a way that doesn’t slam the door on future opportunities with the employer. While the timing may be off, or the position may not be the right fit for you, the “perfect job” could surface down the road so you never want to burn your bridges. 

If you want to keep the relationship positive, you need to remain professional. You might be tempted to avoid a difficult conversation by sending a quick email declining the offer, however, it can work in your favor to pick up the phone and call the hiring manager. Let the manager know that you are thrilled to be offered the job but that you cannot accept the position. Be sure to keep the door open by telling the hiring manager to let you know if another position with a better fit opens up at a later time.

Additional reading: I Got the Job, but I Don’t Really Know if I Want It

About JFCS Career Services

JFCS Career Services supports job seekers and employers to create a diverse regional workforce. Have Questions? We’re Here to Help. Contact JFCS Career Services at (412) 422-5627 or visit careerservices@jfcspgh.org