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Turning Down the Offer without Burning Bridges

You have completed a round of interviews in New York and you are now faced with one of the most difficult and satisfying problems a candidate can have – multiple offers. Those multiple offers are also good offers. More than one offer would constitute your dream job.

You know which one you are going to accept but you do not want to burn any bridges with the company you reject. You may want to re-approach them someday. Here are a few tips for when you are turning that job down.

  • Thank you. Gracefully and genuinely thank the hiring manager or interviewer/recruiter – whoever you are turning the offer down with. Make sure they understand how much you appreciate the time they have taken with you and the consideration they have given you. Be specific; name the time and day of your interview(s) and who interviewed you.

 

  • Timely. Don’t wait three weeks to return the call from the manager because you don’t know how to turn them down. Make your reply timely. Call back within 24 hours.

 

  • Professional. Be professional – always be professional. What does this mean? Be polite, respectful, friendly but distant. This is a key to not burning the bridge. You may need this person in the future.

 

  • No email response to an offer. Make the phone call. Do not turn down an offer through email. You might communicate other things through email in this process, but not the actually turning down of the job. Do it person to person by phone. This is the only professionally acceptable way. Many consider it career suicide to turn down an offer in a text even if you received the offer via text.

 

 

  • No bargaining. Don’t use one job offer to bargain for a better offer from someone else. This is a common tactic of professional recruiters but for an individual candidate it is rife with dangers. The most serious of which is making an enemy and burning the bridge with the company you are trying to get a better deal from. You might also lose both offers and alienate both companies by being too aggressive in your bargaining. You are better off leaving it to the pros.

 

  • Why Not. Give a professional, well thought out and complimentary reason for why you are turning the job down. Don’t say well company X offered me x thousands of dollars more. Never let the manager or interviewer know you are turning down or taking a job for the money. They know the money is important. They need to know you are interested in the job itself.

 

  • Compliment the company as well as the individuals. Know what drew you to apply there to begin with and reiterate it. Be genuine.

 

  • Thank you. Follow up your phone thank you with a letter, card or email that mentions each person you met with, what you appreciated about them and/or the company. Wish them the best.

 

  • Suggest other qualified candidates. This is only effective if you really know people who fit the qualifications and the culture you have learned about during your process. Don’t trivialize this step.

Conclusion

There are some running themes. Take care not to alienate the company, and say thank you at every opportunity.

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