How to politely turn down a job offer without burning bridges

14th Apr 2017
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Being a part of the rat race isn’t easy. Let’s face it, in today’s day and age there are a greater number of people looking to enter the professional world than the number of jobs in the market. We live in constant fear of being replaced and thus keep our options open to give ourselves the freedom to make the right choice.

As a result of this open-all-doors policy, we are often tasked with the challenge of turning down a good job in favour of a better one. Assuming that this final choice has been taken after a series of examined permutations and combinations, we are next faced with the problem of turning down the first offer. While many people choose to ‘ghost’ their way out of the problem, it isn’t an ethically correct proposition. By doing this, you also hold the possibility of burning several important bridges, which on a later date could be what saves you from drowning in the metaphorical ocean.

Image : shutterstock

Image : shutterstock

Simply put, you need to know the right way to politely turn down a job offer. For this, you need to come across as being grateful but decisive on why you are consciously making a decision to not join the concerned company while still holding out the possibility of working together in the future.

Here’s how you do it:

Don’t beat around the bush

It’s human nature to wish to have all your options intact. However, you need to realise that it isn’t fair to the company or to the others who are applying for the same role to keep them hanging. If you are a hundred percent sure that you do not wish to spend the next year and beyond inside the walls of this organisation, then make it clear that while you are grateful for the offer to become a part of the company, you must decline the offer for personal reasons and have made up your mind on the matter.

For example:

Dear Tom,

I am so grateful for having been offered the position of XX at your company. However, I find that I must decline the offer in light of some personal reasons that have come up on my end. Since I don’t see the situation changing in the near future, I thought it better that I inform you beforehand, so you can look towards opening it up again for other contenders. I hope to keep in touch and work together in the future someday.

Cite a brief reason

While you don’t have to go into detail about why you have decided to turn down the offer, you do still owe them a basic explanation. Be it for the fact that you have accepted another job, or that the position you are being offered here doesn’t fit what you’re looking for, inform them of the same.

For example:

Dear Mr Sharma,

Thank you for considering me for the role of XX at your company. While I extremely grateful for having been offered the opportunity, I believe I will have to decline the same. While the package you have offered me is extremely generous, I have accepted a position at another company which better fits the role I was looking out for.

Thank them for their interest and time

Remember that the hiring manager or other representative from the company who interviewed you possibly spent several hours reading your resume, looking you up on social media and tracking your work experience, among the many other applications sitting atop his or her desk for the same position. Considering the amount of time that they have invested in you, the least you should do while turning down their offer is thank them for the same.

For example:

Dear Charu,

While I am delightful at having been offered the position of XX at your company, I’m terribly sorry to inform you that I must decline the offer in light of some recent personal developments. I wanted to thank you for the time and patience you have taken out for me in this whole process. It helped me a lot and is highly appreciated.

Maintain good relations

The whole point of not burning bridges is for you to maintain good relations with the company you are turning down, in the off-chance that you seek help or even employment again from them in the future. At the same time, you need to maintain a good reputation in the circuit, so it wouldn’t do for any player in the market to speak badly of you.

For example:

Dear Mrs Kapoor,

I am grateful for having been offered the position of XX at your company. However, I find that I must decline the offer in light of recent developments at my current job. Since I do not believe that the situation will be changing anytime soon, I thought I would inform you beforehand, so that you could reopen the position to others applying to the same. I am extremely disappointed that I will not be able to join the company at the present, but I do hope that we get to work together in the future. I look forward to keeping in touch.

You never know when your path could cross another’s in the future. It is likely that the employer you turned down might do business with you in the near or distant future. Hence, it pays to part ways on good terms.

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