Thanks, But No Thanks: How To Say No To A Job Without Burning Bridges

In some ways, saying no to a job you know is wrong for you is even harder than being passed over for a job you desperately want.

Maybe two job offers came along at the same time.

Maybe a job that seemed perfect when you interviewed suddenly doesn’t fit your life plans.

Or, perhaps you’ve already accepted an offer and now you’re feeling like you made the wrong decision.

Whatever the situation, how do you say “thanks but no thanks” without burning bridges with employers and recruiters?

Don’t Freak Out

Some jobseekers—especially students——have a lot of trouble juggling multiple job offers. Often, they simply panic and cut off all communication, which is the absolute worst thing you can do.

Others opt for the path of least resistance, avoiding the difficult conversation until eventually the employers and/or recruiters feel misled. That’s not the way to handle yourself either.

Just Tell The Truth

Many jobseekers assume that they’ll be penalized in some way if they admit they are surveying all of their options. Nothing could be further from the truth. Simply be honest with your potential employers about where you are in your job search. Not only will your bridges remain intact, you’ll earn respect for behaving like a professional. In fact, if you’re leaning toward another position, they may even sweeten the pot to make their offer more attractive.

No employer wants to feel like they are being manipulated; but for strong candidates, it’s common to make a counter offer or adjust employment terms to keep top talent from being snatched up by someone else.

Take Your Time

It’s important not to intentionally waste anyone’s time when searching for a job. That said, don’t let any employer or recruiter rush you into a hasty choice. If you need more time to make an informed decision, take it.

It’s bad manners to stall unnecessarily or leave an employer hanging without a final answer, but any employer who won’t give you a little extra time to weigh all your options is probably not an employer you want to work for.

Consider The Consequences

It’s never a great idea to accept an offer and then back out. Still, most employers and recruiters have short memories. They won’t be happy, but they won’t necessarily blacklist candidates who change their minds about job offers. This is especially true for college students, who often say yes to the first offer they see before graduation, then have second thoughts if better opportunities show up later.

Do this once and you probably won’t do any permanent damage to your career. Develop a negative pattern and you might find that you’ve acquired a reputation as an unnecessary hiring risk.

Follow these simple tips and you’ll develop an honest reputation that will pay major dividends over time. To get started finding the right job for you, check out the Jumpstart job board, which currently lists more than 100 positions at companies across Northeast Ohio.