Just Say No - Rejecting a Job Offer

  | James Innes

Whilst it may sound a luxury you can ill afford, there may be times when you have gone through the interview process, been offered the job and still want to turn the role down.

There may be very good reasons to do so. If you are lucky, it may be that you have a better offer on the table from another company. Or you may feel that the salary and benefits on the table really do not adequately match your skills and experience, and there are better opportunities out there.

Another valid reason for rejection is that you have found out things about the prospective organisation that you don’t like as you have gone through the recruitment process. This may be their stance on ethical or moral issues on which you hold strong views, their way of working or the systems and processes they use, or plans for an office relocation which do not suit you.

Finally there is the question of fit. The interview process offers you an insight into the boss, team and organisation for who you will be working. Would you feel comfortable working with, and for, these people, or do you think you might be a square peg in a round hole?

Whatever the reason, candidates should never be scared of saying “no” if they think the job on offer is not for them. For the first time during the whole interview process, the balance of power lies with you.  The company has made the job offer and selected you over all the other candidates available. The onus is now on you to accept the offer or walk away.

If the issue is only one of salary or the remuneration package, then there may be scope for negotiation. If the company really wants you, they may be flexible enough to offer more, or sweeten the deal in some way.

However, if the reasons you don’t want to work for the company are to do with organisational issues or questions of fit, you should seriously think about rejecting the offer outright. Concerns about an organisation’s ethical or moral stance, processes or methodologies are hardly likely to be alleviated once you start to work with them on a daily basis, whilst, if you do not see yourself fitting into the team you are joining or with your new boss, then your stay is likely to be short – and unhappy.

If you do decide to reject an offer, then be professional about it. Send the recruiter a brief email message thanking them for their time and the opportunity, but that you have decided, on balance, to reject the offer. There is no requirement to give reasons. Keep the communication friendly and professional and don’t burn any bridges. There may be future opportunities with the employer which you will preclude yourself from if you are rude or unpleasant now.

Never be afraid to say “no” to a job offer. Whilst you may feel an obligation to a company which has invested time and money to interview you, the power in the relationship now rests with you. Use it to make the best decision for you. Never feel pressurised to accept something that will not be a good personal or cultural fit.

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