Declining a Job Offer after Accepting it ? 5 Reminders

So what do you do when you’ve gone through the long process of recruitment, negotiation and securing an offer, only to want to reject it? Is it acceptable? In most scenarios, declining a job offer after accepting it is just NOT acceptable. You have had several chances to not go ahead with the recruitment process in the initial stages itself. Your potential employer has selected you after screening scores of eligible candidates. This means he/she expects you to join and already has a plan ready for you. Investments, financial investments included, have been made to accommodate you and in all probability some reshuffling has also been done. However, if your reasons are truly genuine, declining an offer the right way is important. It is not just a matter of courtesy. It is also an opportunity to build your personal brand as a professional and to turn a potentially negative situation into a positive one.

This is something we experience quite often through our clients – both employers and potential employees. Keeping that in mind, we have put together five reminders for you to must-do while declining a job offer you have already accepted.

1. Declining a Job Offer – Do it ASAP:

If you have made up your mind about not taking up the job, communicate it immediately. The obligation of you keeping your word only increases with the increase in time lapse. As you get closer to your joining date, the preparations to accommodate you and to build you into the team become more resource intensive. By communicating your decision as soon as possible, you will spare the organization a lot of time, effort and resources. The best way to do this is to meet in person, or over a phone call followed by a formal email. Do not leave it at simply drafting an email. It may come across as unprofessional and insensitive, no matter what words you choose to write your email with.

2. Declining a Job Offer – State the Reason carefully:

You need to be honest, yet tactful while stating your reason for rejecting the offer after having accepted it. Communicate your reason professionally and politely. Make it more about yourself and your career goals/personal limitations than about your new prospective employer or the organization. Keep it short, keep it simple. In case there are unavoidable personal reasons for your decision, explain them to your recruiter. And it is worth repeating – be honest.

3. Declining a Job Offer – Apologize Sincerely:

The only way you will actually get around to making an apology you mean, is if you really do mean it. To be able to intend it, you need to understand that a lot of effort had been put in, which is now going to amount to naught. Let them know how sincerely sorry you are for having wasted their time and for the fact that you had to take this unfortunately unprofessional step.

4. Declining a Job Offer – Express Gratitude:

Thank your recruiter for his/her time, for giving you the opportunity that you had been looking for, even though you were not able to follow it through. Let them know that while making this decision of declining an offer has been really hard, you sincerely appreciate the time and effort that they have spent for you. Be gracious.

5. Declining a Job Offer – Don’t burn your Bridges:

Remember that it is a small world that is getting smaller everyday. It is very likely that the people that you are interacting with for a job offer that you don’t want today may hold the key to a job offer that you desperately want tomorrow. Make the effort to keep in touch. Use this as an opportunity to network. Connect with them on social media. Stay engaged and be helpful. You could even refer someone you know who may be a fit for the job to the hiring manager. By demonstrating that you do value the relationship and are willing to do what you can to help, you are keeping the door open for possibilities in the future.

Turning down job offers after accepting them is usually considered unethical and unprofessional, however, there could well be a host of reasons and circumstances owing to which this move would be inevitable for you. If you have to decline the job offer, do it with respect.  Paying heed to these five things will surely help you get through the situation more smoothly than you expected.

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