In the run up to the launch party for our You’re Hired! Graduate Career Handbook Korin Grant and I are posting a series of blogs aimed at students and new grads which offer some tips on career building. In this ninth post we look at how you can turn down an offer.
In the Graduate Career Handbook we devote a whole chapter to the importance of building up a plan B (and C and D and so on). When you are thinking about your future, applying for jobs and building a career it is important to be flexible and to ask the question ‘what will I do if this doesn’t work out’. In general this means applying for more than one opportunity so that you’ve got fall back plans.
But what do you do if everyone says yes?
Well firstly give yourself a pat on the back. You are really very awesome aren’t you! Everyone wants you!
But once you’ve gotten over feeling smug, you might start to feel a bit awkward because you’ve got to turn someone down.
So secondly, DON’T PANIC! You are not the first person to have to make a choice between different options.
Some things to remember when turning down an employer.
- Employers have seen tens (sometimes hundreds) of graduates before they picked you. It is only reasonable that you should be allowed to go through the same process.
- A recruitment process allows both the employer and the employee to decide whether the opportunity is a good match to the person. No one has any interest in recruiting people who don’t want to work for them.
- Employers will have had lots of people turn down offers, fail to show up on the first day and leave after a few hours of work. Be open and honest about what has happened and no one will blame you.
- Turning someone down puts you in a position of strength. This is a nice place to be. You might even be able to use it to play one company off against another e.g. to increase your salary. But be careful and focus on what it is you really want to do.
- It is your life!
In short, don’t be afraid to turn an opportunity down if you’ve got a better one. It is also important to remember that your original priorities might not be what you go with. So by the time that you have some offers on the table it may be that plan C is looking more appealing than plan A.
You will find that different company’s recruitment processes work at different speeds. You may get an offer from one company and accept it only to get a better one the following month. This is all part of graduate recruitment. If you contact a company and inform them that you have changed your mind they will find someone else.
In most cases there will be no hard feelings! But, when you are declining a job offer be professional, honest and tactful. You never know you might be applying for a job there in a few years time. The old excuse of ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ works just as well with your career as it does when you are dating!