I've recently got an offer, but I'm not really excited about the project and the role. However the company is huge and working on some of its projects could turn out being my dream job. So how can I reject the offer but save the possibility of being hired by them one day? Or would it be better to accept and hope for internal transfer?
So how can I reject the offer but save the possibility of being hired by them one day?
Be honest with them. Something along the lines of: "Thank you! I really like the company and would love to work here, but this role isn't really what I'm looking for at this point in my career. I thank you for the offer, but unfortunately, I'll have to say No at this time. I hope you'll consider me if a different role becomes available in the future."
Be prepared to explain in detail what is unappealing about this role, and what kind of role/project would really interest you, in case they ask.
Be very appreciative of the interview, and reiterate your interest in the company. This will put you in a position for future consideration.
I've had this happen with several candidates I was interviewing in the past. For one of them, I was very impressed with her, and she explained well what she was really looking for. When a position more along the lines of what she was looking for came open a few months later, I called her and eventually hired her.
Even though the role may not be exciting, accepting this offer would give you an opportunity to have a foot in the door. By that, I mean an opportunity to network within the company, understand its politics and structure intimately. This will also give you access to opportunities that are invisible to those on the outside.
It is easier for a company to transfer an individual from one department to another rather than recruiting externally. By working there, you are a known quantity.
If you excel at the job, even though it is not your dream job, you are positioning yourself ahead of the external candidates.
By refusing the offer, you may be giving the impression to the hiring manager that you are not interested in working for that company. This will stick with him or her and may affect you negatively regardless how polite you are on declining the offer.
The hiring manager has invested time and money in all the work it took before extending the offer.
Therefore, I would not only accept the offer and start working, rather than hope, on the possible internal transfer.
You don't reject the offer. You decline it, and you decline it with a kind word about how pleasant the interview process has been and how good it has been to you in giving you a favorable impression of the company, and you are declining it only because of your personal circumstance. And you hold out to them the very real possibility that your personal circumstances will change, at which point, you will be more than happy to take the offer. And make a point of thanking everybody who interviewed you for their time in your letter of declination.
There is an ulterior motive to my advice. When they made you an offer, they made a presumption about the kind of person/professional that you are. By being kind, gracious, grateful and positive in your letter of resignation, you are further confirming that you are the kind of person/professional that they presume that you are and that they would be more than glad to have onboard. There is always a possibility that someone will be clueless and miss the subtext of your message but if your message does not have that subtext, the possibility of them missing the subtext becomes 100%.