When and How to Decline a Job Offer

Posted by Pat Tovo

WHEN AND HOW TO DECLINE A JOB OFFERSearching for a cleared job can be a complex and emotional process. It takes due diligence, concentrated effort and a strong spirit. When a job offers does come along you shouldn’t abandon rational thought and randomly grab it. This is the time when your research skills need to kick into high gear and you move forward with a clear head.

Not all offers are created equal. If you’re lucky, you’ll be offered a dream job with all the perks you hoped for. But if there is a spark of doubt or you have a nagging feeling, then maybe declining the offer might be in your best interest. Certainly taking the time to fully evaluate the offer, is.

Here are a few things to consider before accepting a job offer.

It’s Not What You Really Want

Would you be accepting the job just because it’s a job or because the opportunity really appeals to you and furthers your career? It’s great to be wanted but there is much to consider. If you have just begun your search, then give yourself permission not to jump at the first offer.

You may be tempted to accept a less desirable position until something better comes along, but this isn’t always a good solution. Quick job hopping can be a red flag on your resume to other employers, although this isn’t viewed quite as negatively as it was in the past as long as there is a plausible explanation as to your decision. Also keep in mind job hunting needs lots of attention and the demands of a new job may not give you the freedom to keep up the search.

On the other hand if you have been searching for a cleared position for a long time and this is the only interest you’ve received, then accepting it might be in your best interest. But if you’re in a desperate situation, such as your clearance is about to expire or financial troubles, sometimes you have to do what you have to do. Approach it with the thought that there will be new skills you can learn in this role that will eventually lead to a position that better suits your needs.

Questionable Company Reputation

Hopefully during the interview process you researched the company – and the individuals – and the results fueled your interest. But before hopping on board, now is the time to dig deep into the reputation of the organization and the individuals you’ll be working with. Reach out to your connections to ask for their insights. Use online tools to research key leadership, community standing and employee turnover rate.

Just Not A Good Fit

Culture is a big part of job satisfaction. The responsibilities of the position may appeal to you but if the work environment is not compatible with your personal style then you probably won’t thrive. If you put a high priority on independence then an atmosphere that calls for team collaboration may frustrate you. If you need flexible hours but the organization demands an 8 to 5 schedule you may constantly be butting heads. Make sure the culture is a good fit for you.

Questionable Future for the Company

Are there any indications that the company is on shaky financial footing? About to lose a major contract? Have you heard rumors of a merger? Has leadership changed frequently or been in turmoil? Does planned growth appear a bit too aggressive? This is where your network can really come in handy. Many in the community have been caught in contract changes, so keep your eyes open and your connections strong.

Lack of Advancement Opportunities

Look at your professional goals and consider where you want to be in 5 or 10 years. Will this position help you achieve those goals? Be clear on the training and advancement opportunities the company offers. If you see limited potential then declining the job offer may be in your best interest.

It’s Okay to Ask

If a company has extended you a job offer, then obviously they want you to join their team. If there is anything that concerns you, be sure to bring it to the attention of the recruiter or hiring manager. Their interest in you should mean they should be eager to address any questions. If they balk at concerns, consider that a red flag. You won’t be doing yourself any favors if you don’t speak up.

If you come to the difficult realization that this position is not the right fit for you, you need to communicate your decision to the company. These tips should guide you in that process.

  1. Be gracious. Indicate your appreciation for the time and consideration you have been shown.
  2. Be honest but tactful. Whether the job is not a good fit or you have accepted another offer, explain simply and considerately why you have decided to pass on the job.
  3. Be timely. Once an offer is made you can ask for 24 hours to make your decision. Don’t put off giving your response because you are uncomfortable declining. Show the same professional courtesy you were given during the interview process.
  4. No apologies needed. All that is necessary is heartfelt thanks for the offer and their interest.
  5. Ask to stay in touch. You might like the company but were not happy with the position available. If you’d like to stay in touch for future consideration, then indicate your desire to do so.
  6. Provide a referral. If you know anyone better suited to the position let the recruiter know. They’ll appreciate the referral.

You may be disheartened that the offer has not matched up to your goals, but you should feel great pride in knowing that you have taken the steps necessary to carve the best path for your cleared career. Take a deep breath. Dig in and carry on.

Pat Tovo guides job seekers in conducting successful employment searches through targeted prospecting, effective resume writing, and polished interviewing skills. She enjoys facilitating workshops and working one-on-one in career counseling.


This entry was posted on Monday, July 23, 2018 9:28 am

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