You received an offer but… you won’t be accepting. How do you break the news without burning the bridge? I discuss a few ways to make declining an offer as graceful as possible.
Make sure you decline as soon as you know you won’t be moving forward. The company most likely put a complete halt to their recruitment efforts for this role after extending an offer to you, so this gives an opportunity for the company to jump back into the recruitment process as soon as they are able to.
Call to decline. Don’t just ghost the company; I promise you, everyone will remember your name. You can reach out to the person that extended you the offer letter, and let them know you won’t be accepting. Calling is much more personal and respectful than email, and the person reading it won’t have to guess your tone. It also makes you available for a conversation about why, which leads into the next point.
Be available for an explanation. Want to just write an email letting the company know you decline and then ignore any further outreach because you don’t owe them anything besides a heads up that you won’t be joining them? You may not owe them more, but when you become unresponsive after that, you may burn a bridge with someone in that company who won’t forget your name. If they have questions, be available for a conversation. Handling it this way can also strengthen your industry relationships, and it’s a small world after all.
Be honest. Let them know why you are not accepting, but make sure to draw it back to why it doesn’t fit your needs instead of making it a complain session about everything wrong with the company. This honesty will help them be better for the next candidate, and your feedback is valuable, and they’ll be thankful for it.
Refer someone if you are able to. Although it may not be a fit for you, are you able to reach out to your network, or do you know someone who could be a better fit? Again, you may not owe them this, but it can strengthen your industry relationships after declining an offer.