How to Decline a Job When the Position Is Not Right for You

Worried male job candidate interested in company vacancy anxiously looking on multinational recruiters analyzing and discussing his resume on interview.
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Finding the perfect match for most things in life takes a bit of effort — whether it’s a matching sock lost in the laundry, the right wedding dress or tux or even the perfect new car that fits all your needs (especially since we spend more than four hours every week commuting, says Ridester).

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When it comes to finding the best match for a job, these same standards apply. It’s best to be choosy and land upon the right fit even in times when you are desperate to have work. Being discerning can help lead to a longer-term commitment and overall happiness in your new role. 

In fact, LinkedIn says that, on average, finding a solid new job can take about six to seven months. That entails applying for opportunities, hearing back from the hiring department, going through the interview process and asking all the questions you need to decide if you would want to accept a job offer. 

Not every job you interview for will be suited for you, and some might even present some red flags. Some of the top reasons that people may want to decline a job offer include:

  • An undermarket salary
  • Extended waiting time to receive benefits
  • No tangible room for advancement
  • A job description that isn’t very specific
  • A lot of turnover at the company or bad reviews online
  • There doesn’t seem to be a lot of flexibility or work-life balance
  • The work perks and culture are subpar
  • Commuting every day would be a pain
  • Not jiving with future colleagues during the interview process
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If you are already well into the interview process and uncovering some of these issues and don’t want to move forward with being considered for a role within the company, there are some tactful ways to let them know and stop the process.

Says Forbes, “Hiring managers appreciate honesty, especially when it saves them time.” If you are 100% resolute you do not want the job opening, it’s best to inform them. Forbes’ expert says it’s best to make any communications vague and polite so that, if any future opportunities arise, you might still be considered. 

If it’s just the specific job you aren’t feeling but you do like the company overall, you might want to inquire with the hiring manager if there are any other openings that would better fit your experience and interests. This enthusiasm and transparency will speak volumes to an HR team as it shows you are forthright, determined and are thinking of both yourself and the company in determining the best fit.

Though, if you do intend to decline a job, you’ll want to do so in a prompt manner, says Zippia. “This will be important to the company so they can continue to search for other candidates.” Waiting too long might make them feel you wasted their time and could prevent being considered for an opening in the future. 

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Better Up adds that showing gratitude and appreciation in a letter declining work is also key. “Interviewing is a hefty, time-consuming process. It’s likely many folks invested a lot of time throughout your interview process,” says the site. So, it’s ideal to send a thank you note to the recruiter, identifying the time they put into considering you.

The article also says sharing what you’ve learned from the process is helpful, too. By doing so, “You’re signaling to the company that you really took this opportunity seriously.” The worst thing would be to burn a bridge — every connection you make always leads to somewhere. 

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When you are ready to keep the job hunt going, featured the top 10 employment search sites for 2022 that may help you find your dream gig.

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About the Author

Selena Fragassi joined in 2022, adding to her 15 years in journalism with bylines in Spin, Paste, Nylon, Popmatters, The A.V. Club, Loudwire, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine and others. She currently resides in Chicago with her rescue pets and is working on a debut historical fiction novel about WWII. She holds a degree in fiction writing from Columbia College Chicago.
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