Yeah, No Thanks

July 28, 2015

 The purpose of this posting is to discuss rejecting a job offer.  Yes, this does happen, and more than you think.  If done strategically, you get to keep the network of contacts you developed during your interviewing with the jilted employer.


There are a number of reasons why you may choose to turn down a job.  Let's discuss them.


Job Duties and Scope Change


The reality is that employers aren't always forthcoming with the details of what you'll be doing on a quotidian basis.  Sometimes it's unintentional; other times, it's intentional.  Regardless the motivation, if the scope of the position changes, and you note this beforehand, you'll want to consider how tolerant you are to that change.  Some people allow more flexibility in this area.  Others do not and consider it a deal breaker.


If you find yourself in this situation, luckily enough before you accept the position, and you don't have a tolerance for scope changes, you'll want to decline.


Better Opportunity


If you're smart, you'll entertain multiple prospective employers.  This is to ensure that you have a backup organization in case the first one doesn't pan out.  But assume you find yourself on the verge of accepting what appears to be a wonderful position perfectly aligned with your career plan, then suddenly, another position you were courting comes up, and it's one that's better.  If you want to accept the latter position, a decline is in order for the former.


Life Changes


You may be about to sign that contract for employment, but something happens in your life that makes you want to change situations in the personal areas of your life.  There is no judgment associated with this; this happens and is a reality.  If you are faced with life changes, whether fortunate or unfortunate, and you aren't able to balance the new position with these changes, you'll want to politely decline.  An extreme example would be your finding out that a child has been diagnosed with an illness that will require you in a full-time-care mode.


This isn't an exhaustive list, of course.  There are a number of other reasons that you'll decline.  But let's move on to how you go about it.


Decline Letter


Just like reputable organizations do when they're not interested in using your skill set, you'll want to create a decline letter.  To some people, it sounds formal or superfluous, but there are several reasons to create such a letter.  It sets expectations for the rejected employer. It smacks of professionalism.  And it can legally protect you in cases where there is a misapprehension of a contract for employment.


Is the letter necessary?  No.  Is it superfluous?  No, because it never hurts to create and send one.


Letter Components


The letter isn't intended to be a long-winded document.  You're getting in and getting out.  The level of the position you were previously interested in will dictate how much detail you will want to go into.  For example, an executive vice president's rejection letter's going to look a little different from that of a customer-service representative.  (Please note that one letter isn't better than the other, just different.)


The format will follow that of a standard business letter.  Here are the following components:

  • Date

  • Return address

  • Inside address

  • Salutation

  • Body

  • Close

  • Signature

Contents of Letter


The rule is:  Keep it general. If a bad situation was the impetus to your turning down the position, you can choose to bring it up in the letter, but do so cautiously.  This is not the time to sound retaliatory; it can be the time to provide simple feedback in a conscientious fashion, though.  Or you may go the route of a lot of people and companies and state that another opportunity has arisen that works better for you.  Remember to keep it short and to the point.  The letter should comprise no more than three paragraphs:  an opening, a reason for the decline, and an appreciation.


You can find an example of a letter format and contents here.


E-mail Versus Letter


There is some contention on which is better:  using an e-mail as a decline or having a typed-up letter.  In our view, a combination of both is appropriate.  If you have the e-mail address of the contact, send an e-mail with the written letter as an attachment or download link.  The reason we suggest this way is the official letter really does make you look professional and also that you took time to craft something personalized.  It leaves a good mark in the minds of the rejected employer.


The purely e-mail job decline has most of the components of an official letter, minus the inside and return addresses.  The rest of the e-mail follows the same format.


Need assistance with the letter?  We write them.  Contact us today.


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