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How to Decline a Job Offer

Sign The Contract
about 2 years ago by Gareth Foden

​Something every recruiter fears. The dreaded decline of a job offer. But they shouldn’t, and here’s why. 

The truth is, they probably know it’s coming. Or at least they should do if they are half decent. Unless you completely blindside them with something never before seen or discussed.


This morning I “googled” most searched recruitment questions. And how to decline a job offer was up there. Well, here is my take on how to do it and how not to burn bridges in the process.


Going through a job search can be a lengthy process. It can take weeks or months to get to a point whereby the contract lands in your inbox and you finally have the opportunity to review everything you and your potential employer have spoken about. But, your gut feeling isn’t right. Something doesn’t sit well. You want to decline the offer.


Right, one thing to think about to quickly figure out what you want to do. Can the concerns, questions and problems be dealt with through a further conversation or meeting with your would be employer or perhaps through some changes to a contact/employment terms? If yes, then do that. Be clear, honest and transparent as to your concerns but in equal measure, highlight your desire to actually do the job.

If the answer is no, then this sounds simple but just say so.


As a recruiter, one of the most frustrating parts of the job is trying to fix something that ultimately was never going to happen in the first place. You spend lots of time working with the candidate and the client to bring a resolution to the surface and then when those boxes are ticked, it’s still a no-go. In my experience, this usually happens with people I have had that “gut feeling” with from the beginning. I’ve always known they aren’t 100% committed. They’ve always known it. But we have ignored it, in hope that it will go away.


As a candidate, if you receive an offer or even attend an interview that isn’t right for you my advice would be just say so. Who can ask for fairer than that? The job market is so broad and has so many opportunities, you should never feel pressurised in to anything. Your recruiter will appreciate it and will ultimately learn what doesn’t work for you, and the hiring company will appreciate it because they can move on. It is the same if you receive a counter offer that is simply too good to turn down (the debate on accepting a counter offer can be saved for another day!!), but again, transparent and honest keeps things nice and clear for all parties.


If you don’t want to burn bridges my advice would be to act professionally but assertive. It isn’t the role or business for you and explain the reasons – job done. You may expect some questions from your recruiter but ultimately that should be to understand not bully or push you in to something. At the end of the day they want to communicate things with the client, so the more information you can give them, the more open they can be with their customer.


It would be great to get views on this, if it is helpful or you need any advice then just drop me a line!