Career

4 Things You Should Do When You Turn Down a Job Offer

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Joanne Poh

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Once upon a time, people thought of going for job interviews as a once-in-a-lifetime affair. Get the job of your dreams and toil away obediently for the rest of your working life. These days, spotting rainbows and unicorns at Raffles Place is more likely.

Fast-forward to Year 2016, and the average Singaporean is an expert at applying for jobs and going for interviews. Job hopping is practically an art here, and most people go through several employers before they hit age 30.

That means learning how to navigate the world of interviews and accepting and rejecting job offers is crucial in Singapore, especially as remaining in a job for too long can be fatal to your salary.

And as everyone who’s ever mass-emailed their resume after deciding they were fed up at their job knows, going for a bunch of interviews often puts you in the rather unenviable position of having to turn down job offers and praying they won’t hold it against you. Here’s how to do so in the least damaging way.

 

Be nice and polite, and always thank the company

Face it, the company you’re turning down is going to be a bit deflated. After spending all that time scheduling an interview with you, you’re rejecting the offer for something better. They are not going to be pleased, so the least you could do is to be as nice and polite as you can, and to always express your gratitude for the offer.

Don’t just bang out an insincere email on your mobile phone saying thanks, but no thanks. Tell them on the phone no matter how little it might appeal to your non-confrontational, passive-aggressive personality. (Hey, we’re just making assumptions here, but if you’re a Stomp user this should be applicable.)

Thank them profusely for giving you the opportunity to waste their time with an interview and giving you an offer, and wish them well with their business endeavours, even as you drop the bomb that you won’t be joining them.

 

Tell them the moment you receive the offer

You know how there are couples who break up after a year of suffering through a malfunctioning relationship, all because nobody had the guts to pull the plug? Do not do that here!

Especially do not wait till the first day of work and then just not turn up, which believe it or not, many Singaporeans actually do! That’s the ultimate asshole’s move.

The minute you receive the job offer, whether by phone or by email, you want to open your mouth and inform them that you won’t be taking it up. At least they’ll be able to immediately call the next candidate.

Wait too long and by the time they start looking around for someone to offer the job to, everyone else they interviewed will have taken up other jobs, and you can be sure the company will resent you for it.

 

Give them a good excuse

While many people prefer to just announce they won’t be taking up the job and then slam down the phone, relieved the ordeal is over, stating honestly but politely why you’re rejecting the offer might actually work to your benefit.

For instance, if the salary doesn’t meet your expectations, telling them so (in the nicest possible way) might actually lead them to raise the remuneration so you’ll reconsider.

If you’ve already accepted another offer, express your regret that it’s too late but mention that you hope to have the opportunity to cross paths with them in future.

Of course, if the reason has to do with your premonition that the company culture is awful or the boss came off as an arrogant prick during the interview, keep your mouth shut and tell them something more politically-correct.

 

Refer someone else if you know they’re desperately trying to fill the position

If the company seems desperate to fill a position or urgently needs to find someone else, offering to refer another candidate is a move that can put you into their good books.

Let’s say the friend you refer to them really ends up joining them. A few years down the road, should you decide to try again for a position in the company, you’ll have a valuable contact who’ll be able to pull you in. You’ll also be known as the guy who referred that friend, and that creates a link that will help you to stand out from a sea of other hopefuls.

Have you ever turned down a job offer? Tell us how it went in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.