5 suggestions: How to reject a job offer?

Once you have decided to pass over an offer, how would you react to the follow up calls by the search consultant and the HR guys at the concerned company. 

These days, when mid & senior level opportunities are getting limited, landing up a new job offer is a big deal.

In that case, why would you want to say no to a job offer.

May be,

  • You have been offered amazing retention plan by your existing employer. You may have also got a well-deserved promotion.
  • You have landed up multiple offers, and one of them is more lucrative with regards to brand, job content, compensation, growth prospects etc.
  • It could be that there are some personal issues, exigencies that have come up and they hold you back.

Once you have decided,

Once you have decided to pass over an offer, how would you react to the follow up calls by the search consultant and the HR guys at the concerned company. 

It’s difficult to say “No”, and in such situations it can be embarrassing as well as uncomfortable for you.

Your “No” could be a big set back for the search consultants, and for the HR guys at the other company who have been planning to hire you. Possibly they have been in a conversation with you for over last 2-3 months or more. Possibly, they have gone back and forth multiple times, in order to offer you a good role and compensation.

Interesting situation !

 All this while you had been following up with the search consultant to check on the progress of your candidature and the offer, and now you don’t want the offer.

Some suggestions for effectively handling the situation:

  • Don’t go silent. It does not help anyone.
  • Be as direct & up-front as possible – While you don’t have to mention that you have been retained or you have another offer – you need to communicate that you would not be pursuing their offer. If however, you are just passing on the offer for want of better compensation and you are keen on the role & company, you can be candid about your reasons. They may be able to match the offer.
  • Communicate early: If you have decided not to pursue an offer, it makes sense to communicate it to the search consultant or the concerned HR at the earliest. It helps them to take up the offer with some other candidate or plan their next step. At times, they depend on you and while you let the case linger on – they can also miss out on other candidates, and may end up taking up the entire search exercise again. 
  • Seek clarity if some adverse report on the employer or your “to be” boss, or some thing else is bothering you. It may not be wise to find faults related to the employer during your conversation with the HR or consultant. Even if your decision is influenced by some negative reports you can hold on to that with yourself if you are not keen to pursue the offer. If you are seriously interested in the offer – you may request clarity on the issue that’s bothering you and is making you unsure. The search consultant is your bridge, they can help you through some uncomfortable discussions if needed.
  • You don’t need to justify beyond a limit. If they have addressed all your expectations in their offer – and you still don’t want it – you may firmly say that you are not interested. They will understand.

Overall, try to see that you don’t leave a bad impression.

Delaying your response, ghosting, or dilly-dallying ends up reflecting you in poor light. This can be a negative mark on your conduct, impacting your relationship with the search consultant and the concerned in HR. 

You never know when you have to head back to the employer. Or you end up interfacing with the search consultant, and the HR guys during a future job search. 

In simple words, it’s good to be upfront and direct.


Image Credit: Canva | Post edited on 9 Aug 2018

Praveen Mishra

Praveen is the Founder and Principal Consultant at Khedge Business Consulting Pvt Ltd. He works with organisations in areas of business strategy and human-resource management. Over the last 15 years he has helped various organisations with their HR processes, structure, alignment and effectiveness; and talent strategy and processes. You can connect with him at praveen@khedge.com. 


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