If you have the good fortune to receive multiple job offers, including what could be your dream job, congratulations—but don’t stop there. Take one more important step in the process: write your decline offer letter. In my experience as a recruiter, it’s well worth maintaining good relationships with the companies you turn down, and such a letter can help pave the way for future work if your current position does not turn out like you expect. Here are 6 tips to put together a letter declining a job offer:
Remember that the recruiter, hiring manager and other people from the company put a lot of time, work and resources into recruiting you. Show your appreciation for all the interviews and introductions by sharing your sincere thanks. Being polite and gracious, especially when exiting, acknowledges the kind of loyalty and goodwill that should develop during the recruiting process.
Try to be honest, yet tactful.
Similar to when job candidates are passed over for a job, companies often want to know why someone they’ve been trying to recruit chooses a different direction. Try to explain (with sensitivity) why you accepted another job offer, and why that position better aligns with your goals. Remember that the company you decline to work for today could have a position that does offer you what you want tomorrow.
Don’t wait till the 11th hour.
It’s hard to see job candidates who were so excited during the recruitment process seemingly lose interest at the very end. Thinking ahead of time about your letter to decline an offer and the courtesy it represents can help you avoid this scenario. Yes, go ahead and show your enthusiasm for the job, but don’t be afraid to communicate the criteria you’ll weigh before accepting an offer. People will feel like you’ve been straight with them if you share your career goals from the beginning.
Show you are going out of your way.
The market moves quickly, so a well-written email instead of a traditional letter can be an appropriate way to decline an offer, but avoid dashing off a quick “thanks, but no thanks” message. Write a thoughtful letter first to the recruiter, who can help you craft another version to send to the hiring manager. You can mention what you like about the company and the people you met, but in general, approach the letter with the same respect you would an interview request. Doing so will help you build your good reputation.
Make no apologies.
You owe the people involved in your recruitment a thank you—not an apology. Your career decisions should be based on what’s right for you, and following this course is actually doing the company a favor. In your letter to decline, and in any related phone conversations, you can say you feel honored to have been considered, but never say you’re sorry. Keep your words professional and to the point.
Establish a relationship for the future—and stay in contact.
It’s not just lip service. To maintain ties with a company after declining their offer, communicate your desire for further contact in your letter, and follow it up with a phone call and a LinkedIn invitation to show you mean it. Check in once in a while to build a history of interaction to draw on the next time you apply to a position at their company, or when someone in their industry inquires about you. Treating others with consideration is a good rule to live by—even when you are declining what they currently have to offer.
Do you need an example of a letter to turn down a job?
City, State Zip
Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name,
Thank you for offering me the position of XYZ with [Company Name]. It was a difficult decision, but ultimately I have accepted a position elsewhere.
I appreciate you taking the time to interview me and to share information about the opportunity and your company.
Again, thank you for your consideration.
Signature (hard copy letter)
Have you recently declined a job offer? How did you handle it? I welcome your comments below.