How To Turn Down A Job Offer But Keep The Door Open

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At some point during your job search, you may be faced with the difficult decision of declining a job offer. 

When this happens, it's good to know how to turn down a job offer but keep the door open to avoid burning bridges and give yourself an opportunity to work there in the future.

Most hiring managers have heard the words “thank you, but no thank you” before. A humble and respectable rejection simply lies in the way you go about it.

It’s important to keep it professional when turning down a job while letting it be known how appreciative you are to have been considered in the first place.

“Companies — and candidates — often invest considerable time interviewing," says Lisa Petsinis, a Life and Career Transformation Coach. "If you've realized the role isn't a good fit, after all, it's better for all to be upfront about it."

Here are a few tips for how to turn down a job offer but keep the door open.

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1. Don’t feel obligated to provide details.

It is not necessary to let the hiring manager know every small detail of why you have to reject a job offer.

Keep the message short and sweet, while still remaining polite and making it clear that you are declining their offer because that’s all the hiring manager needs to know.

If they ask for more information, “Let them know why you're not able to join the firm now, and what you're looking for in the future,” suggests Petsinis.

This may even work in your immediate favor if you're interested in working for the company under different circumstances. For example, if the pay isn't up to your standards, making them aware of that may lead them to raise the salary for you. 

2. Thank them for their consideration.

The best way to be courteous when declining a job offer is to thank everyone involved in the hiring process.

It shows respect for the company, and can also be the thing that sets you apart from the other candidates. 

If you want the hiring manager to remember you, the best way is to express gratitude for their careful consideration of your application as well as acknowledge that you respect their company and the work they do.

3. Be prompt.

Once you've received a job offer and made the decision that it's not right for you, let the hiring manager know.

You want to make sure you have given the company enough notice of your rejection as it shows them that you view their time as valuable and want to give them enough time to find someone else.

The longer you wait to reply, the worse the impression you leave.

If you want to leave the door open, it’s best to always be prompt in the reply.

4. Stay in touch.

The best way to leave a good impression while also giving the hiring manager an opportunity to consider you at the company in the future is to make sure you stay in touch.

Connect with them on LinkedIn, interact with the work that the company is doing, and maybe even send a few check-in emails.

This is especially helpful if you do picture yourself working for the company, but not particularly in the position you were offered. Let them know how much you value the company and hope to be considered for future positions.

Any way that you can stay relevant in their minds  (without overdoing it) is encouraged. 

5. Be respectful.

When declining a job offer, it’s best to always stick to professionalism in your email. 

If you’ve been offered another job opportunity that is more your fit, or if the offer is more generous, it’s best not to mention it. Simply let the hiring manager know that you respect their company and all of the work that they do.

Keep the message clear and precise as to not cause any ill feelings or rude interactions.

6. Be a resource.

During the process of learning about the company and engaging in the interview process, if you realize you might know someone that could be a great fit, don’t be afraid to recommend their name to the company.

The person you’ve referred to could end up being an amazing candidate and eventually become hired, which would create a good relationship between you and the company.

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Also, if you want to still be involved with the company in any way, you could offer to do freelance work for them, or be on-call if they need any help as well.

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Sample Email for How to Decline a Job Offer Humbly

Dear [name of hiring manager],

Thank you so much for the offer of [name of position]. I appreciate you taking the time to consider me and for answering so many of my questions about the company and role.

After careful consideration, I regret that I must decline your offer. Although you were most encouraging in outlining future advancement possibilities within [company name], I have decided that this position does not align with my career goals at this time.

I enjoyed meeting you and the rest of your team. You have been most kind and gracious throughout the interview process.

[Indicate if you'd like the company to keep you in mind for future opportunities.]

Best wishes for your continued success.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.