So you smiled, made eye contact, shook their hand, told them about yourself and answered like a STAR and guess what? They like it! In fact, they love it and you get a job offer …YAY!!…right?…no? Not sure if it’s for you?
Perhaps the initial job spec differed from what was discussed in the interview? Maybe you don’t feel that the company dynamic is the right fit for you? Perhaps there’s not as much potential for career development as you anticipated?
These are all perfectly reasonable thoughts and logical reasons as to why you may want to decline the offer. It’s your career after all and you need to do what works for you.
Firstly, don’t be too hasty, once you turn down the offer it will be very difficult to get back in if you change your mind.
Check through the details. Were all of your questions answered? Do you have enough information to make an informed decision?
What are your reservations? Is it something that could be overcome after some time in the job? Is it something that can be rectified by a call to the employer?
If the issue is salary or benefits package perhaps this is time for negotiation?
However, if none of the above applies and after the recruitment and selection process you feel that the job just isn’t for you then that’s fine but you need to act on it. Don’t be tempted to hide under a bush ignoring the calls and emails from the employer “so what? I’ll never have to see them again”. It’s good to still continue your good first impression. You never know if you may come across them in the future, especially if you work in a specific industry. They may be useful business contacts in the future. It’s surprising how small the world can be, and, if nothing else, it’s nice to be nice right?
Once you have made your decision, inform the employer as soon as possible and in good time. They will appreciate the notice to find a replacement. Respectfully decline the offer giving your brief reasons and thanking them for their time and consideration.
Try not to be too negative about the company or individuals. More so, concentrate on the impact on you. For example, “It’s not the right fit for me”, “I don’t feel there is potential for me to reach my career goals”, and “the role wasn’t what I expected based on my initial application”. Prepare your answer as if it were an interview, write it down, practise what you are going to say.
The employer should be understanding and respect your reasons if they come across as logical and thought out. They’ll thank you for being honest rather than taking the job, only to leave two weeks later, after they have invested time and money in your recruitment and training.
What’s next for you? Your well thought out rejection could lead to other opportunities. The employer may ask if they can keep your CV on file for potential future opportunities – which is always a bonus. You never know, they may even refer you to one of their contacts. Good candidates can often be hard to come by and if you made an impression (including the way in which you decline the offer) they may be more than happy to recommend you.
Just because you turn down a job offer doesn’t mean the process was a waste of time, far from it. It can be valuable experience; you have updated your CV, had interview experience, boosted your confidence by achieving an offer and given thought to your job selection. Sometimes finding out what you don’t want is just as important in knowing what you do want. Next time you can focus your efforts accordingly and go for it. After all, you now know you can do it!