How Do You Graciously Decline a Job Offer? (revised repost)

It’s amazing what you can find in your first few posts that upon re-read, you realize how far you’ve come as a writer when you do it more and more; I had a handful of misspellings and misquotes that have since been rewritten here for the better; enjoy…

So the past 4 weeks I’ve been waiting for a job offer to come through. It is in a different department, but in the same company. I’ve interviewed a 3rd time and talked with the hiring manager on several occasions stating that everything SHOULD be in proper order.

The salary will fit, the position title fits, my current manager is aware of it, and my skills match; all was going well. So I sat waiting patiently assuming it to be 20-25% more with a 15% bonus structure. It came through Friday at a 12% bump and NO change on the bonus structure (still 10%)!

The “Butter Up”

At first I was amazed at the fact the recruiter delivered the message and was telling me that I was really getting a good deal and that they spoke highly of me and couldn’t wait to get me started. I assume that is part of his responsibility though, tout up the job and make me feel comfortable in it. I have nothing wrong with that, but I was severely unexcited about it – He mentioned that “anything above a 10% bump is a VERY good deal” and that “I should be very excited they’re willing to offer me this.” I told him I’d like the weekend to mull it over.

The weekend actually gave me some good time think about my priorities. This was a job that I didn’t know a lot about, but the hiring manager really liked my ability to follow through with projects and get people in order to complete the job; so saw potential in my leadership skills. But is that the direction you want to go in a position?

I have no qualms with my current salary, albeit, I’m always excited for more. Like most people, I think I could use a raise, but aside from that, I’m quite happy doing what I do. It pays me enough for the mortgage, bills, and keeps food on the table!

The Analysis

I jotted down the pros and cons of the situation with my wife. It’s always nice to brainstorm pros and cons with someone else. Like they always say 2 heads are better than one. Especially when deciding something like this that could have some serious repercussions if not thought out properly.

Would I want to make a counter-offer? What amount would make me move over there if the offer DID come back properly?

The more I got to thinking about it, the more the 80% probability of taking the job dropped. Even if I was to get 30-35% raise and the 15% bump, would it be worth it to through your current leverage out the window? I basically would be starting from scratch, but in management.

It would take me 2-3 years to fully grasp what I was doing. I could better manage my time by using what I had now and blossoming it into something that may lead to a better opportunity later. I decided to just decline the offer and not waste time with a counter-offer they couldn’t meet anyway.

The Realization

So my dilemma now was to decide the best way not to burn the bridge of the recruiting manager. When you turn down a job, thank the person for the opportunity. Tell the person that something about them or their company impressed you. Think of something, even if it’s small. Just make sure you are specific, because that’s the type of compliments that matter most to people.

The Conclusion

I tried to find a way to best let the manager down, and buttering them up before the big bomb is always a good recommendation. Don’t make them feel like you’re rejecting them as a person, but the job itself.

Don’t make the ordeal personal, it’ll bite you in the end because later on down the line, you might be in a position to move into that group later. Networking is one of the best skills you can have in your toolbox. Use it wisely, and don’t toss it on the bridge that you may be burning.

photos by: /yuvalh/, /seanj/

Filed Under: adviceCompensationfinancial education

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  • http://www.squawkfox.com squawkfox

    Excellent advice Hank! Kudos to you as well for going through older posts and seeing how far your writing skills have progressed. I find it hard to read my early posts…I can’t help but wonder, “What was I thinking?” :) Thanks for the mention as well!

    squawkfox’s last blog post..10 Reasons the Diva Cup Can Change Your Life

  • http://www.moolanomy.com/ Pinyo

    Excellent point about weighing all the pros and cons, especially how it would affect your life before making the decision. When I was younger, it was all about the extra bump in my salary. Now, there are certain things I would go for even if they offer me 20-30% extra.

    Pinyo’s last blog post..Looking Back: My Finances 10 Years Ago

  • http://www.davidmakescents.com David Carter

    Usually just telling them your real reasons for not wanting the job is plenty. Honesty is the best way for them to understand. Most times they will understand and not be offended. I rejected a job a while back and boy is it fun. Normally I am receiving the rejections. :)

    David Carter’s last blog post..How Not To Make Passive Income

  • http://www.ourstockmarketjourney.blogspot.com Alisa

    I like the fact that you took the time to think this through. Sometimes it is so easy to get caught up with the emotions involved with these types of decisions and both do and say things that you later regret.

    I am a first time visiter to your blog and I really like it!

    Kee up the good work.

    Alisa’s last blog post..Portfolio Builder Checklist

  • http://www.step3prophet.com Step3

    I’m a little confused by your post. How did a job that fit you suddenly become one you were not interested in because they didn’t offer you enough of a pay raise? Granted, I don’t know the details and it’s your life, but the reasons you state seem to be more an excuse to maintain the status quo rather then explore your horizons. I do like that you are polite about it though.

    Step3’s last blog post..0% APR part 6

  • http://myinvestingblog.com hank

    @squawkfox – I go through the same thing. I may be trying to do this more often because it was actually interesting to see what is back there!

    @Pinyo – I hear you – I haven’t been in that situation yet, but would be interested in entertaining the idea. But yes, knowing you’re in IT also, there are “those” apps that you don’t want to support. I hear you.

    @David – It’s nice to hear it from the other side of the coin, or at least be in on it from the other side. It is interesting to entertain their counter offers if nothing more than to see what you’re worth, eh?

    @Alisa – Thanks for stopping by! I completely agree to the emotions of it. I nearly got suckered in just because I didn’t think it through. Pros and Cons list are certainly helpful in deciding.

    @Step3 – Thanks for stopping by! I maybe should have went more into detail in the post, but this oughta work too. :) So 2 things – I was under the impression that it would be where I was expecting it to be as per the hiring manager. She asked me what I was expecting and I told her the range I was looking for, and therefore expecting.

    On another front though, I had another opportunity I didn’t expect (which is the position I’m in now) that was revealed to me the day before I had to make a decision. The opportunity there meant more to me because the offer was above what I was looking for and in a group I had more knowledge in.

    Yes, the first opportunity WOULD have been expanding the horizons, but I really would have been starting from scratch; and looking back now 7 months, I am very happy with my decision seeing what I’m doing now, and seeing the person the DID hire and the problems he’s got on his plate!

  • http://www.karthikkaraikudy.blogspot.com/ Karthik Bangalore India

    Very practical aspects. The key is not to burn the bridges. You never know where the next opportunity may turn up.
    Karthik.

    Karthik Bangalore India’s last blog post..Good news,Infopig, Tom & Jerry, Sadnews

  • http://www.karthikkaraikudy.blogspot.com/ Karthik Bangalore India

    Very practical aspects. The key is not to burn the bridges. You never know where the next opportunity may turn up.
    Karthik.