Articles on Writing Resumes, Careers
Getting Hired, & Job Searching:

Turning Down the Offer

   Article by Carole Martin

In today's job market, it seems ludicrous to talk about turning down a job offer. Everyone should be so lucky as to even get an offer. But you need to stop and think before you jump out of desperation into a situation that is not good for you. Even though it may be uncomfortable, there are times when you have to say, "Thanks, but no thanks."

Great News; You've Got an Offer

George was laid off from his job in June. After four months of rejection, he finally got an offer. He was excited. Or was he?

It really wasn't the job he wanted. It was just one of the jobs he had applied for, because he was qualified and could perform the duties. The job really didn't match any of his values. Taking this job meant a long commute in heavy traffic. Financially, it was going to be a lateral move. But, most of all it was not a challenging or growth-related opportunity. The thought of going to this job day after day depressed him before he even accepted.

How could he turn down an offer after so many months of waiting? He was dreading telling his wife about the offer for fear she would think he was crazy for not taking it. How could he tell the company he didn't want the job after going through all those interviews?

Do What You Want

The company wanted to know by the end of the week. George was making himself sick thinking about the decision. That afternoon, he happened to catch a television show about taking care of yourself in stressful times. "Do what you want to do, not what others want you to do," was the message. George knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to continue looking for a better opportunity.

When he told his wife, not only was she understanding, but she was encouraging as well. "Life is too short to make decisions that are going to make you miserable," she told George. The decision was made. George would turn down the offer. Together they wrote a script to gracefully reject it.

Making the Call

The next morning George placed a call to the hiring manager. "I've thought over the offer extended and have made a career decision not to accept the position," he told the manager. "I am grateful to you for believing in me, and I hope there may be an opportunity for us to do business in some way in the future." The hiring manager was disappointed but said he understood career decisions and the need to do what's in one's best interest.

It takes courage and maturity to reject a job you really don't want. The best way to handle difficult decisions is to weigh the consequences and decide what is best for you. Since you don't want to alienate a business contact in the process, it is best to be as professional about the conversation as you can. Preparing a script ahead of time will assist you with your discomfort. No one likes confronting unpleasant situations, but one difficult moment compared to weeks, months or even years of work you find unpleasant is a small price to pay.

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