Suppose you're one of the fortunate job seekers. You've just landed not one, but two, job offers. What's the right way to decline one opportunity without burning bridges for future networking?
Six simple steps can keep you on-track, as you turn down one job offer to accept the one you really want.
1. Answer promptly.
This step is both critical and courteous. Never ignore a job offer, and don't delay in responding. Prospective employers almost invariably interview multiple candidates for each open job slot. If you don't plan to take an offer, it's important to say so as soon as possible, so they can follow up with their second choice.
Of course, it's prudent to accept the job opportunity you select first. Set that up firmly before stepping away from other options.
At all costs, reveal your answer to prospective employers before circulating the news socially or in an online post.
2. Be decisive.
Occasionally, a job hunter will accept multiple job offers, perhaps hedging her bets. This is a dangerous practice. A savvy careerist will pick her plan and confirm her top offer directly, rather than seesawing between various possibilities after offers have been made.
3. Thank the person offering the job.
Express your appreciation immediately upon receiving a job offer, whether you plan to accept the opportunity or not. If possible, give a time frame during which the prospective employer may expect your answer.
Once you've chosen to decline an employment offer, mention your gratitude again in your response. This is common courtesy and good business, even if you've discovered the potential job was likely a nightmare.
4. Be as positive as possible.
It's not necessary to explain why you have chosen to pass on a job offer, but a brief answer is usually appreciated.
Customarily, you might mention you've accepted another job or that you've decided that the position simply isn't an appropriate fit for you. Steer clear of statements on salary or benefits, and don't step into the muddy waters of bad-mouthing the organization or anyone in it.
5. Put it in print.
It is considered bad form to decline a job offer by text, email, private messaging or a social networking status update. Even a telephone call is somewhat unadvised.
The best course is to write an old-fashioned letter in response to a job offer. Address this simple missive directly to the person who extended the opportunity. If this was a human resource professional, send a copy to the appropriate department head as well.
A basic job offer declining letter might look something like this:
Dear (Contact Name):
I enjoyed meeting you on (date) and learning more about your company. Thank you for your offer of the (name of position) job. After much consideration, I must decline your offer.
Please accept my appreciation for the opportunity and for your time. I hope our professional paths will cross again.
It's also prudent to confirm your job acceptance in writing for the position you have chosen to take.
6. Keep the lines open.
Networking is career gold. Following up with each contact you made within a prospective employer's organization is always a plus. A brief email or call to such folks is generally acceptable.
Don't toss those business cards you may have received during the interviewing process. You may be surprised to encounter some of the same people in the future, either professionally or socially. Contacts count plenty throughout your career.
More from this contributor: