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How to decline a job offer and more tips on how to negotiate and get the job offer you want

Paula Delos ReyesContributorSeptember 21, 2020

#JobOffers #CandidateGuide #JobHuntingTips #EmploymentTips #CareerTips #JobOfferNegotiation #JobHunting101

How to decline a job offer, how to negotiate a job offer, and more tips on how to secure the job offer you want

Now that you've passed all interviews, congratulations! You are now one step closer to working for the company you like, in a role you like, enjoying the company culture that resonates most with you. The hiring manager has just sent you the job offer, though, and after thoughtful consideration you will most likely realize one of these things:

  • You thought you wanted the job but something ticked you off during the application process;
  • You got multiple job offers at the same time;
  • You want the job but you’re disappointed with the offer;
  • The offer looks good, and you can’t wait to accept the job offer!

The last scenario is the easiest and the most ideal scenario, so we’ll leave that for the end. What you really need is tips on how to reject a job offer and how to negotiate for a better offer.

The goal is to sign up for work that works for you - this should be a total package that includes the company, the role, the people you’ve met so far (your manager and maybe your team, if you will be leading one), and the compensation and benefits. You want a job that ticks all these boxes and makes you look forward to your first day at work.

How then do you navigate the tricky and delicate stage of handling a job offer? Check out our comprehensive guide on how to decline, how to negotiate, and how to accept a job offer.

Never accept a job offer on the spot. You should allot time to read through the fine print and think about every detail of the offer.

Pro tip: Thank them for the offer and tell them to give you a couple of days to think it through.

1. How to decline a job offer

Is it wrong to decline a job offer because there's a pandemic, and so many people are losing their jobs? The clear answer is no. You might feel a little guilty that you want to decline a job offer while other people are looking for jobs, but it's perfectly fine to not accept work that you feel would not work for you. At the end of the day, it's you who will spend most of your waking hours on the job—so you might as well make it worth your while.

Take time to think about what exactly put you off about the job. Is it something about the application process? Is it the people who interviewed you? Usually it’s these little details and feels that an applicant gets during conversations with interviewers and visits to the company’s office that drive them to reject a job offer when it comes.

If it’s the actual offer that you don’t like, don’t worry - you have the option to negotiate and you can go straight to Point #2 below.

However, if you got a better job offer from another company or for one reason or another decided to pass on a job offer, here’s our simple guide:

Reply to the job offer the same way they offered you the job.

To let the hiring manager know that you need to decline their job offer, you can simply reply to them, in the same trail. If they conveyed the job offer via e-mail, reply in the same thread. If they called you, pick up the phone and give them a call.

If however the job offer was done in person or through a video call, you should text the hiring manager (or whoever presented to you the job offer) and ask when it’s a good time to call.

Now on to the hard part. What do you say and how do you say it?

There’s pretty much not a lot that hiring managers consider more unforgivable than ghosting!

Recruitment takes time, money and resources. The very least you could do is let companies you know you are declining the offer, so they can move on with their hiring process.

Keep it short and sweet.

You are not required to give a detailed explanation, but it would be great if you can tell the recruiter (even if it's in not so many words) why you need to decline the job offer. One or two sentences will do.

You can say something along the lines of:

After thoughtful consideration, I need to decline the job offer. At this time, I need {insert what you need; e.g., flexible work/freelance work rather than going to a physical office}.

Or you can choose to be honest:

After thoughtful consideration, I have decided to accept another company’s offer.

Stay professional at all times.

It won't hurt to thank the company for the opportunity they gave you. Thank them for seeing your potential. Keep the lines professional. Especially if your industry has small, tight circles (say, PR or SAP ABAP professionals) where everyone seems to know someone, chances are you'll meet these people again. That or they know a guy who knows a guy who might be your future boss.

If you are inclined to decline a job offer because you want a higher salary or better benefits, check out our advice on how to negotiate a job offer.

2. How to negotiate for a better offer

If you are an experienced professional and you feel that the company is offering a lower salary than you expected or need, consider negotiating instead of outright declining the job offer. Especially if you want the other facets or factors of the job you applied to, negotiating for a higher salary might be worth the shot.

Salaries are usually based on the market average and your previous salary. Before requesting or negotiating for a higher salary during your job offer, build a solid case as to why you need to request for a higher salary. It can be based on your previous income plus bonuses and other benefits, or it can be because you have specialized skills. Look up what people in your level and experience are getting. Just remember to consider the various factors and circumstances when you're negotiating for a higher salary. For example, it wouldn’t be wise to compare what someone is getting in a multinational company versus your offer from a startup.

If the company seems flexible, you may also negotiate for better benefits instead of higher salary. How about an extra HMO for your parents or child instead, or monthly internet subscription if you’ll mostly be working from home? This is something worth exploring, especially if the company says they’ve already given you the maximum pay for someone of your level and field of work.

If the company declines your requests, check with yourself if you are willing to adjust or decline and look for other opportunities. If the salary is lower than what you need or the market average, would you accept it, decline it, or think about it for a bit more? Weigh circumstances and from there, give a final and straight answer.

For experienced job seekers: It never hurts to try to negotiate, within reason.

Just remember to do it respectfully. Whatever their decision is, accept it graciously.

Is it ok for fresh graduates to negotiate the salary for their first job?

If you are a fresh graduate and you feel that you need to request for some improvements on the job offer, make sure you do your assignment first before negotiating.

As with negotiating salaries in job offers for professionals, give a solid reason why you believe it's appropriate to get a pay raise. Always do your research so you can be objective about your request to increase the salary. Is it because the offer is lower than the market average? Or because you have internship experience, or have special skills? Check the things that add value to you and from there, politely request for a higher salary from the hiring manager.

3. How to accept a job offer

Finding a job where you can contribute to the greater good while getting your job requirements met is probably one of the best feelings in the world. When you're 100 percent certain that you want to accept a job offer, that's great! It's also one of the easiest things to respond to, tbh.

After thoroughly reviewing the job offer and you see that it suits your needs, inform the recruiter that you are accepting their offer and signing with the company. As with declining a job offer, you can simply reply to their e-mail, text, or call. Keep it short and sweet, express your gratitude for the career opportunity, and at the same time ask about the next steps you need to take as far as recruitment and employment goes.

Bonus: What to prepare for pre-employment

Once you have decided on taking on a role that you want and need, it’s time to prepare for your pre-employment requirements. This list usually includes:

  • Employment contract (signing) and IDs
  • Physical exam results
  • Government IDs and records, including: SSS, TIN and BIR forms, PhilHealth, and Pag-IBIG
  • COE from your previous company (if previously employed)
  • Transcript of records from your university
  • Birth certificate
  • Bank documents (ID photo, application form)

Make sure you have all of these in order so you can start at your new work the soonest time possible.

Want to start getting those job offers? Visit Xcruit now to search for jobs. Good luck!

I want to apply and get a job offer soon!

Need more helpful job advice in navigating our new normal? Check out our careers blog.