How Do You Graciously Decline a Job Offer?

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, 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%)!

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 severly 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.”

Contrary to popular belief, I told him I’d have to think about it over the weekend, and as I was 80% sure I was going to take the job anyway but needed some time to think it over. In discussing it with the wife, I ran across quite a few sites that had some good information on deciding on job offers. had some good insight into it from here.
Penelope Trunk had some good points on it here. Be nice, follow up, suggest someone else, and assess your own conduct. Very valid.
Secrets of the Job hunt said this, but was seeing it from the other side of the table – REGRETTING saying no, I hoped my gut was telling me correctly here –

The weekend actually gave me some good time think about my priorities. This job 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 position you want to go in a position? I have no qualms with my current salary. 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!

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.

So my dilemma now was to decide the best way not to burn the bridge of the recruiting manager. Penelope Trunk has some good info for that:
“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.”

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 –

Filed Under: adviceCompensationUncategorized

  • 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.

  • That is a very nice concept. I really think it will work out to be a good thing.