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Sometimes a job offer comes along and it isn’t the right fit. Maybe the company is great, but the timing is wrong. Or maybe the job involves duties you aren’t sure about covering. Or even, maybe you started a new job already, and this offer came in after that.

While turning down a job can be hard on its own, it is even trickier when you might want another opportunity to work for the company in the future. When that is the case, great care is required to clearly decline the offer while still leaving a good impression.

For help walking this particular thin line, here are some tips to guide you through the process.

Express Appreciation

Whenever you are offered a job, regardless of your intentions to accept or decline, your first words should be “thank you.” It is important to express appreciation for the offer before declining the opportunity. While many job seekers feel like they put themselves out on a limb by interviewing, many hiring managers feel similarly when making an offer.

As the conversation continues, remain polite at all times and try to maintain that grateful tone and feeling as you talk. If you put yourself in the mindset of being appreciative, it is easier to keep the conversation moving in a positive direction.

Be (Reasonably) Open

The conversation will go much more smoothly if you don’t try to hide your reasoning behind your decision. After expressing regret that you can’t accept the position, provide some basic information regarding why. For example, if you aren’t able to relocate for the job, say so. Had another offer come in that you have accepted? Let them know.

You don’t have to overshare, especially if some of your reasoning is personal, but providing a simplified explanation will help them understand that it isn’t because you didn’t appreciate what the company had to offer, but that another factor was unexpectedly in play.

Let Go

Understand that by turning down a position, the exact opportunity might not come around again. Some companies regularly have openings in certain departments or areas, so you can feel somewhat reassured that a chance may arrive in the future. However, in-demand positions with top-notch companies don’t always make a second appearance.

While this isn’t exactly advice for managing the conversation, it is important you have reasonable expectations when you decline a position.

Get Connected

Just because you turned down a job doesn’t mean you can’t stay in touch with the hiring manager. Take a moment to reach out on LinkedIn, or exchange email addresses. Every so often, gently touch base. You can forward an interesting industry-related article or comment on their social media profile. Either way, it will help you stay fresh in their minds,and if the right opportunity does come around, they are much more likely to remember you.


If you are looking for additional tips to make sure you are leaving the door open for future opportunities, or are looking for a new position today, the professionals at The Squires Group can help you keep your career moving forward.

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