It may sound counter-intuitive in a down job market, but there are instances when it is best to turn down a job offer. This can be a result of many factors, including the job not being a good fit, the responsibilities are not ideal to your career goals and more. Even when you do turn down a job, maintaining a professional demeanor is still important. Let's address the best approaches. Even though you are not accepting the job offer, you do not want to burn any bridges and will want to be polite and professional. You may also want to leave the door open for the future.
The first thing you should do is contact the hiring manager immediately, and thank him/her for their time. This is when you can outline the reason behind your decision. While you do not have to get into all the specifics, it is a good idea to be as upfront as possible. For instance, you can state that family obligations are preventing you from taking on a new job. The pay-scale may not meet your financial expectations or needs. Upon further consideration, the geography is not suitable. Keep the discussion positive and do not broach any negative issues you may have uncovered during the interview process.
Follow-up your discussion with a formal letter declining the job offer. Include your contact information and the reasons you outlined during your phone conversation. A timely response is important as hiring managers will want to approach other candidates. It is important to maintain a positive image throughout the whole process, as you may run into people from this company again. Chances are you met with numerous people when you interviewed for the positions. Chances are you will run into them again. If you have been upfront about the reasons why you declined, this should not pose an issue.
Here is a sample letter declining a job offer:
Your First Name Last Name
Your Phone number & Email
First Name Last Name of Company Representative
Title of Representative
New Employer's Address
Dear Company Representative:
I wanted to thank you again for your letter offering me the name of job at name of company.
I appreciate the time you and the rest of the name of company team spent with me outlining this opportunity. While I certainly recognize the benefits of working at name of company, after thoughtful consideration I regretfully decline this offer.
As we discussed, reason for declining I am choosing not to accept your offer at this time.
I hope our paths will cross again in the near future, and wish you and name of company continued success.
Thank you again for your time and consideration.