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If you have to turn down a job offer, there’s a right and wrong way to do it. Having to turn down a job offer is not the easiest or nicest thing to do. However, it’s better than taking a job that’s ill-fitting. The company you were interviewing with will probably be disappointed. But you can turn down a job offer without burning bridges. Here’s how.

Don’t delay

If you know that you are not taking the job, let them know as soon as possible. The company will be waiting on you. They may be relying on you, if they didn’t have other prospects.

The longer you take to reply, the more your relationship suffers. If you can’t respond immediately because you’re waiting to hear back from another company, then be as quick as possible. Communicate with the company any things that may be hindering you from getting back to them as soon as possible.

Phone over email

If you have to reject a job offer, it’s best to do it over the phone. Although it may be uncomfortable, it shows a level of respect for the relationship you’ve built up.

Make a phone call to the person who sent you the job offer to let them know that you are unable to accept the position. This will be appreciated, and if you need to contact the company in the future, it will be much easier.

If you can’t use a phone for whatever reason, send a thoughtful email to let them know.

Be courteous

Thank the recruiter for their time and for organizing the interview process. Also thank all those that took the time to meet with you.

Let them know that you put a lot of thought into turning down the job.

Be honest

Just like how you would like feedback if you got rejected for a position, the company too. This is your opportunity to share why this role is not the right for you one at this point in your career.

Don’t take this as an opportunity to criticize the company or tell them all your dislikes. Be fair and keep it based on your career progress.

Sharing your feedback may also help the company in their next line of recruitment. It might make them change their approach or aspects of the position.

Don’t burn bridges

Just because you don’t want to work at that company now, doesn’t mean you should shut the door completely. Use this as an opportunity to network with the recruiter and add them on LinkedIn.

That recruiter may be working at your dream company in a few years and now you have a connection there.

Turn down a job offer with dignity and respect. It may not be the most comfortable conversation to have, but if done well, will benefit you in the long run. It shows professional maturity and character. Take time to think through how you want to communicate your rejection to the company. Always be polite and show gratitude for the opportunity.