Handling unwanted job offers
April 6, 2011
So – you’ve got a job offer, but you’re just not sure you if want it. What should you do?
Whatever you do, avoid the most common mistakes: accepting even if you’re pretty sure you don’t want it , thinking you’ll keep looking until you find something you really like, or simply not responding because you feel awkward turning it down. By making either of these mistakes, you may be blocking what might be the perfect opportunity for another Ohio State student.
Here’s what you should do.
First of all, you don’t need to accept (or decline) on the spot – but you do need to respond promptly. Whether the offer comes via phone or email, get back to the employer within 24 hours if possible.
“Thanks very much for the job offer! When do you need my answer? After I’ve had a little time to think about this, can I call you if I have questions? I’ll be sure to get back with you before the deadline.”
Are you sure you don’t want it? Sometimes a second choice can look pretty good if it turns out to be the only choice. What else do you need to know about the job to make an intelligent decision? Make a list of the questions you have and then call the employer.
“Good morning! This is Scarlet Ann Gray from Ohio State. You called me earlier this week to offer me a job as ------. I have been thinking about this and have a few questions to ask. Is this a good time to talk?” (If not – make an appointment to call back on another day/time.)
Still not sure? Make an appointment with an ECS advisor ASAP. Don’t wait until the deadline (or the day before the deadline), however – our calendars might be full. We can help you talk through the decision. If you’re not sure if the pay is right, check the salary statistics section of the ECS home page.
What if you might want it -- if you didn’t get another offer? Or, what should you do if you don’t think you’ll hear from your preferred employer before the deadline for this job?
“Thanks very much for the job offer! This is an interesting opportunity. I’ve been weighing other options, so I’ll need time to think this over. When do you need my answer? After I’ve had a little time to think about this, can I call you if I have questions? I’ll be sure to get back with you before the deadline.” (Then call the pending opportunities – defined as those for which you have had at least a first interview, and probably a second one. Reintroduce yourself, tell them you’re still very interested, but you’re calling because you have another offer and you want to know if you’re still a viable candidate. What’s the worst that could happen? They say, “No, sorry.” At least you know where you stand.)
If you know you definitely don‘t want it, say so.
“Thanks so much for your call (or email)! I really appreciate your interest in me, but since my interview, I’ve given this a lot of thought and I’ve decided that this opportunity is just not the right one for me at this time. Thanks again.”
There’s no point in dragging this out. Sure, they’ll be disappointed, but they have had strong candidates decline before. They’ll find the strength to carry on. (And maybe they’ll hire another Ohio Sate engineer!)
"Really big people are, above everything else, courteous, considerate and generous - not just to some people in some circumstances - but to everyone all the time."
-Thomas J. Watson, Sr.
Authored by Rosemary Hill.