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I recently decided to go on a job hunt and I have approached several companies and got accepted for several places and was offered a working contract.

Eventually, I decided on which job offer to take, but how do I turn down the other places down in a way which might lead to 'business in the future' either as a free-lancer, startup founder or maybe just when I'm looking for another job (with more seniority)?

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possible duplicate of Retracting acceptance of a Job Offer without burning bridges –  gnat Oct 24 '12 at 15:56
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@gnat I don't think this is a duplicate (though I did initially too). That question refers to retracting previously accepted offers while this is considerably more common in the job offer process - having to reject one of multiple offers. –  enderland Oct 24 '12 at 16:31
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5 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Hiring managers understand that if you have several offers, theirs might not be the one you chose.

Keep your answer polite and explain that you have decided to pursue a different opportunity - don't feel that you have to go into detail as to why you chose a different position over the one they had.

You can add that you will be happy to be considered for any future openings they have.

In general, unless you are being rude or offer an explanation that they might not appreciate (one they might not like hearing), there is nothing specific to write that will put you in their black book.

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+1 Simple is best in this case. An explanation beyond I have accepted other work sounds like an excuse and can be a negative. –  Chad Oct 24 '12 at 16:00
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Say:

"Thank you for the offer. I appreciate your interest in my candidacy. Unfortunately, I have already accepted an offer somwhere else. Perhaps we can work together in the future.

Best Regards,

Yours Truly"

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There are a few things to think about when deciding how to reject those offers.

First: they are much less emotionally invested than you are in that offer. You see a rejection as personal, and while some hiring managers may, they do this all the time - you are not going to personally offend someone and blacklist yourself (unless you do obviously dumb stuff in your rejection letter). Companies and hiring managers deal with this all the time.

Second: try to make it not sound like you reject THEM or THEIR COMPANY but rather make it seem like it just wasn't the right decision for you at the time. Something like:

  • Unfortunately, this job is not the appropriate next career step for me
  • At this time, I do not think this is the right decision for me

will be received better than

  • I have accepted an offer elsewhere
  • I am rejecting this offer for $(REASON)

because you are indicating the company did what they could to provide an attractive offer but YOU were the party responsible for things not working out. In the latter case, it is somewhat more a "you guys were not good enough or as good as competitors" type situation. See the fourth point however.

Third: make sure to thank them for the offer and opportunity!

Fourth: most importantly, realize the manner in which you decline the offer (unless done really poorly and leaving a bad impression) probably will never resurface ever again within the company unless you reapply in a very short time period.

Fifth: you may find it worthwhile to connect via Linked-In to the hiring manager. This may be dependent on the tone of your conversations with them and whether you feel it would be appropriate (for example, if they respond "thanks for letting us know, keep us in mind in the future" or some similar verbiage).

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You tell them that while you have selected an opportunity to pursue at this time, you may be open in the future to new possibilities and would like to stay in touch in case something comes up.

A key point here is to have the follow-up chats or lunches so that you actually do follow through here as otherwise you are asking for trouble.

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The first action you need to do within this next 7 days is slog your mind off creating a technical blog and associated web sites. Perhaps, even LinkedIn, tweeter and Facebook accounts that is not used for documenting frivolous activities.

In these technical sites you write comprehensively using your technical knowledge. Not necessarily complete, but a continuous WIP (work-in-progress). A separate site ("site" as in Google-Sites site), for example a site each on Qt/C++, JavaEE, Operations Research, etc.

If your profession is associated with software, you should also maintain/contribute to some Google Code or open-source projects.

Every time you add new items to a site, or modify and existing page, or started/ended a significant contribution to an oper-source project, your blog would have an entry describing the update.

Your blog would be used to write a descriptive summary of the update. And following posting a summary in your blog, you would tweet it.

For the particular Facebook/Google+ account

  • Family vacations are OK. (Indicates you have a life)
  • Formal company and social functions are OK (indicates you have a network)
  • Alcohol and pot binges not OK.
  • Criticism of colleagues and public/political figures not OK.
  • Religious/political opinion not OK, but biblical/quranic/mahabharata exegesis OK.

Then to the companies which you are rejecting their offers, there is no angst necessary in politely telling them that

You did not have an easy time deciding but that you have found a company most in-tune with your current direction in life. You let them you feel you could still contribute to society at large and is keeping a blog that will have very useful professional information.

Then tell each of the companies

I would like to keep in touch with you socially. You should follow me in my LinkedIn account (where I document the progress of my professional life). I also have a few technical web sites (list the sites each with a short description). You should follow my progress in my blog (name the blog) and my tweeter account. Feel free to comment on my blogs or ask any questions there.

Thank them for the opportunity they had given you.

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