How to Write a Job Offer Rejection Email

Believe it or not, lots of the people we’re talking to at the moment are finding themselves in multi-0ffer situations.  Yeah, we know – there’s a recession on, there’s no jobs, the world is ending – but that, ladies and gentlemen, is what’s happening.

So what do you do when you’ve had more than one offer, and – having chosen the path you are going to walk down – it’s time to tell the companies involved that you’re going to be turning them down?  And how do you do it without burning any bridges?

Well, here’s a few ideas.

1 Remember what you’re trying to achieve
Rejection hurts, no matter what the context.  Don’t assume that the company you are rejecting won’t be a little miffed that, having invested all that time and effort in you, you’re now turning them down.  And remember, you never, ever know when your paths are going to cross again, or when you might need to lean on some of the contacts you’ve made.  So remember, you’re aiming for a gentle let-down that won’t leave a bitter taste in anyone’s mouth.

2 Don’t overdo it
Be nice, thank the company for their time and consideration, and pay them some compliments.  But don’t go over the top.  Yes, you want to make them happy, and yes you might want to work for them in the future, but you also need to be seen as a strong-minded person who makes decisions for sensible, logical reasons.  Going over the top with the pleasantries can give off the whiff of someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.  After all, rejecting a company that you truly *love* makes no sense.

3 Don’t get dragged into a bidding war
Once you’ve said no, be very, very, very careful about changing your mind if the rejected party comes back with an improved offer.  These are similar to a counter-offer from an existing employer, and should be treated with the same caution.  We’re not going to go through all the reasons why you shouldn’t go down this route (just Google “should I accept a counteroffer”), but if your employment with company X starts with them being 2nd choice, the odds are against it working well.

Plus, in any case, if you accept an offer from company Y, and then go back a few days later having changed your mind, you’re not burning a bridge, you’re blowing it up.  Trust us, they will not be impressed.

4 Keep it short, but be vague
The more depth you go into and the more reasons you detail for the rejection you are issuing, the more faults with the offer you’ve been made you have to highlight.  You don’t need to tell a company that the other guys offered more money, have a better working environment, a stronger product and a better reputation.  That’s 4 slurs they have to deal with, when just one will do!

Even better, find one “reason” for your decision, and make it a “neutral” one.  The other guys’ product is slightly more in line with your professional interest.  Or the other guys are closer to home, and your family is important.

So remember – easy does it.  And happy hunting!


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