The objective of every job search is to receive multiple job offers. These offers provide you flexibility, choices and the option to select the best strategic opportunity for yourself. Jobs or roles within a company are two to four year career stepping-stones on track to your career destination.
But if you receive multiple offers, how do you reject a job offer without burning bridges?
Like many things in life, visualize the outcome and work backwards. So what would the ideal outcome be? Rejecting a job offer in a manner where in a few years, if you were to reach back out to the recruiter and say ‘I hope your remember me. I have a couple years work experience now and I am thinking of making a move. I always kept an eye on your company and is there any way we could re-start our conversation to see if there is an opportunity for me?’ Whereas they would respond positively.
If you haven’t burned a bridge, it is likely that your request would be embraced. So that is the ideal scene.
If you did not communicate well, you failed to call them back in a timely manner with the ‘bad news,’ or you said along the way that if they made an offer you would take it, only to reject it when they did, chances are you might not be met with enthusiasm.
Now let’s be realistic, if you are a great candidate and if they were making you a job offer or for that matter an offer for an internship, of course there will be disappointment. That is precisely why so many struggle with the rejection part.
So prior to getting offers don’t make promises like:
Keep yourself and expectations flexible. The only caution here is that if you layback and don’t show commitment when you have a great choice, you might not get an offer.
Now you have multiple offers and it is ‘pick one’ time:
First, make sure you have settled on the terms of your current offer. This offer needs to be in writing, not verbal, with a solid layout of expectations including a start date. Once this is finalized, then reach out to the others immediately. They have a business to run as well and after rejecting their job offer, they will move on to the next candidate. Don’t waste time; it will only make things worse.
When you reject a job offer, remember...
Ultimately the future is a big place and you want a strong network and lots of options. You have created a lot of goodwill through the search/interview process; the key is not blowing it at the end. Be swift, be honest, be sincere and professional. Your reputation depends upon it.