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How to Decline a Job Offer Gracefully (With Email Examples)

How to Decline a Job Offer Gracefully (With Email Examples)
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Generally, if you’re in a position to decline a job offer, it’s a high-quality problem. Maybe you were offered a better position at a different company, or perhaps you were offered the same position at a different organization but for better pay (or perks). Or maybe, after sitting down and discussing the offer with your family, you decided that the travel requirements were too intense. Perhaps the company where you currently work agreed to match the new offer, and once you examined the pros and cons, you realized it made more sense to stay.

Whatever the reason[1], your charge now is knowing how to decline a job offer gracefully. As a courtesy to the company who extended you the job offer, you want to decline quickly, giving the hiring manager a chance to make the offer to the candidate who was the runner-up for the job. You also want to express your appreciation. And, given today’s rocky economy, it makes sense to politely decline the job offer in a way that will hopefully keep the door open for you should your circumstances change.

If you’re not sure how to decline a job offer, check out the following tips to get through it.

3 Ways to Decline a Job Offer Gracefully (With Examples)

1. Show Gratitude

The hiring manager likely spent several hours on your job application—between reading your cover letter, reviewing your resume, and interviewing you either in person or via a videoconferencing platform. Recruitment is a long and sometimes tedious process for any employer. There is always competition for every open job, and the hiring manager may have pushed your candidacy over others in the queue.

For these reasons, your note needs to express thoughtfulness and genuine appreciation. That said, it needn’t be lengthy.

The following example is concise and expresses gratitude in several ways, providing a good example for how you can decline a job offer gracefully:

Subject Line: Job Offer – [Your Name]

Dear Mr./Ms. ________[Hiring manager’s last name],

Thank you for offering me the position of _______ [job title] with _________ [company name]. I greatly appreciate the vote of confidence that comes with your offer. However, after carefully considering the opportunities for career advancement, I have decided to stay where I am.

I sincerely thank you for the time and consideration you devoted to my application, interview, and follow-up. I appreciate your graciousness and consummate professionalism throughout.

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I wish you success in all the company’s undertakings that you outlined. Thank you again for extending the opportunity to work with you.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

2. Give a Reason, but Don’t Elaborate

If you had several interviews at the company, then saying why you are turning down the offer shows respect and professional courtesy. It’s fine to say that you took a different job offer, decided to stay at your company, or even felt that the salary was not sufficient. The trick is to say it succinctly.

The following example does just that:

Subject Line: Job Offer – [Your Name]

Dear Mr./Ms. _______ [Hiring manager’s name],

I greatly appreciate your offer of the position of _______ [job title]. I was very impressed with you and the staff members who interviewed me, as well as the direction of the company. I regret, however, that I must decline your offer due to the salary offered.

I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to have met you and your team and to learn about your company. Again, I am grateful for the positive interviewing experience with your company and for the job offer.

I wish great success with your plans to move forward.

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Best regards,

[Your name]

3. Offer to Stay in Touch

This technique isn’t for everyone, but if you felt a strong connection with the person who interviewed you, or if you could see yourself working at the company in a few years, it might make sense to offer to keep in touch.

Remember that hiring managers switch companies, too, and it’s always a good idea to have a hiring manager think well of you!

The following example includes an offer to stay in touch in a gentle way:

Subject Line: Job Offer – [Your Name]

Dear Mr./Ms. ________[Hiring manager’s name],

I am writing to personally thank you for offering me the position of ________ [job title] at _______[company name]. I enjoyed meeting you and having a chance to meet the other members of the team. It was an extremely difficult decision for me, but I have accepted a position at another company.

I genuinely appreciate the time you devoted to interviewing me and to sharing your insights on the direction of the company. I hope we might stay in touch as I value your visionary ideas about our industry’s future.

Again, thank you for your time and consideration, and I wish you all the best for your continued success.

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Respectfully,

[Your name]

Should You Hold out for Your Dream Job?

If you interviewed with two companies, and your dream company is dragging out its decision while your second choice company has made you an offer, what’s the best direction to take? As long as the job offer from your second choice company is in keeping with your goals for upward mobility, added responsibility, and increased salary, you are better off accepting the extended offer for two reasons.

First, the reason the dream company is prolonging the process may be because it has made an offer to another and is negotiating with another candidate. Second, if you accept another offer and withdraw your candidacy from the dream company, the hiring manager will note your desirability to another (possibly competing) employer and may try to recruit you in the future.

It is the epitome of poor form to decline a job after accepting it, even if your dream company finally comes through with an offer. This puts the company that made the original offer in a huge bind, particularly if it has already sent rejections to its other candidates and is taking steps for on-boarding you. This could make you a pariah at the company, and in any industry, news travels fast and far.

The Best Medium for Declining a Job Offer

Should you send your response via email? Or pick up the telephone and call the hiring manager? The most professional response is to use the same method they used to extend you the offer. If they offered you the job via email, then feel free to email your reply. If they called you or left a voicemail message, then picking up the telephone is the preferred method. Do your best to call during business hours.

To be as poised as possible, you may want to write out your rejection and practice saying it a few times. Time it to make sure it does not exceed 30 seconds. (Even if you leave a voicemail, you may need to also write them an email for their records.)

If the hiring manager wants to chat further, don’t give the impression that you want to quickly end the call. Give the conversation your full attention to let the employer know that you value the relationship that you have built. It’s important not to burn bridges if you should decide to apply at the company again in the future—or at another company where the manager happens to transfer to. Remain discreet, but converse with decorum if the other party wants to prolong the conversation.

Dotting I’s and Crossing T’s

Always include your contact information, including your phone number, although the company already has it. Double check your communication for typos. If you know a candidate that you believe would be a perfect fit for the job, you may want to mention it. (First make sure he or she really wants the job, though. Reach out to them before suggesting their name.)

Be sure to send your email within normal business hours. Remember that you are not trying to avoid the hiring manager—you’re opening up a line of communication with her or him that you may well use again down the road.

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When They Go Low, You Go High

Granted, not every potential employer has a winning personality. You may have decided well before the offer was extended that this was not a person with whom you wished to work. Or, the company culture[2] may have felt like it would not be a good fit, and you’ve since corroborated the incompatible impression with people in your network.

Whatever gut feelings signaled to you that you needed to turn down an offer, don’t include or even allude to them in your rejection letter[3]. Stating that the position is not the right fit for you and your career is all that you need to disclose.

This final example is for when you prefer not to disclose the reason for your rejection, and you’re looking for a kind, concise way of turning down the job:

Subject Line: Job Offer – [Your Name]

Dear Mr./Ms. ________[Hiring manager’s name],

I genuinely appreciate your taking the time to interview me and the consideration you gave me as a job candidate. I have, however, decided to decline your offer of the ______ [job title], as I have come to realize that the position is not the right fit for me at this time.

I wish you well in your search for the best-suited candidate.

Cordially,

[Your name]

Final Thoughts

Learning how to decline a job offer politely and professionally will keep you in good graces with the prospective employer and help the person better accept your rejection. Let the person know that your change of heart in pursuing a new job isn’t personal, and that you found the experience rewarding.

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When you show gratitude and let the hiring manager know that the time and effort invested in you is appreciated, you continue to strengthen your professional standing.

More on How to Decline a Job Offer

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Vicky Oliver

Author of 6 best-selling books on job-hunting and job interview questions, business etiquette, frugalista style, advertising, and office politics.

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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