How to Decline a Job That You Don’t Want

From a company’s standpoint, they let candidates know that they are no longer being considered for a job by sending emails, making phone calls, and in some instances, stop communicating with the candidate. From the candidate’s vantage point, the feeling of rejection can be devastating, whether they really want the job or not. It is easy for a candidate to get caught up in the interviewing process, even if the job does not align with their career goals. This often leads to a candidate continuing to pursue a job that they really do not want that wastes both the candidate’s and the company’s time. Here are five steps that a candidate should take to prevent this from occurring:

  1. Identify the role that you would like to play. Take the time to understand your strengths and weaknesses and identify the types of roles that align to your career goals. Keep in mind that most companies are looking for candidates with previous experience doing the job that they are hiring for. In this job market, it is difficult to get a raise when looking for a new job.

  2. Clearly identify the culture of the company you are looking to join. Some companies have a work hard play hard culture, others are focused on maturing and growing their people, and others are focused on team building. There is a continuum of cultures that organizations possess. Take the time to determine what environment best aligns to your style of work and ask questions during the interview process to get a sense for the company’s corporate culture.

  3. Determine the industry and company size you want to work for. There is a big difference in the breadth and depth of work that you will perform for a company with $5MM in annual revenue vs a company with $500MM in annual revenue. Consider where you see yourself in the org chart. It will help you identify a company size that best aligns to your career goals.

  4. Identify you work/ life balance requirements. When a company is in a major growth stage, it typically impacts the work/life balance for its employees. Take the time to determine what the most important attributes are and align your job search to those companies.

  5. If a job does not align to one or more of the above for you, decline moving forward in the process, even if you do not have a better option. I know this is a hard thing to do, but it is the right thing to do. It is best to decline as early as you can in the job search process. The last thing you want to do is to get to the job offer stage and the turn it down, or worse, to start a job that does not align to what is important to you. This often leads to dissatisfaction that often results in a quick transition.

Making a job change is hard. Make sure you take the time to determine the key characteristics for the type of company that you want to work for and then actively pursue companies that align to those characteristics. It will make all the difference in the world.