I have been running my business apart from my day job, as a freelance IT consulting entity, doing software development, basic IT administration, web design and in essence all SMB IT needs.

Having noted my success rate and the need for a structural approach to this, so that I can maintain customer confidence and appropriately follow up on clients and maintain a standard CRM, I have started to incorporate my business, starting with recruiting a New Business Manager who will be in charge of handling the growth in demand of my services.

I spoke to the candidate, a new acquaintance of mine, of whom I had quietly noted their potential to approach new people, and sell an idea. My initial discussion with them with regards to my prospective offer was received with excitement. I gave them an overview of my history working alone in the field, and my need to get another person dedicated to getting new jobs.

Being a startup, graduating from a successful sole trader business, I had stressed these points, and that the job would start informal, working from home and with not much of a monthly salary but an arrangement we would discuss.

I handed over the formal letter of offer, detailing mostly what we had discussed, and the deliverables by which the incumbent will be evaluated. The response is; with some text explaining that they looked deeply into the offer and that the letter contains work that has to do with approaching clients, then "I do not think I can pull it off". This is confusing me because I thought this should have been noted in my initial discussions with them.

What I have done

To allow for balance between the demands of the job, and prospective candidates needs, I have resolved that filling the post must be facilitated by a qualified recruiter, and I have employed the service of my colleague HR personnel, who will now interview all future prospects.

What I need help with

I need to know how to respond to my the initial candidate, noting that this is someone I had just started to get to know:

  • Am I reading right, because I believe the response is a job offer decline. Might it be cold feet on their part?
  • Is it wise to ask reasons for decline and even ask if there is anything I can do for them to reconsider, or the response is clear in black and white?
  • Must I just proceed to assume this is a decline, and accept their decision so that i do not put them under further pressure?
  • 3
    Just ask them what they mean? They are the only person who knows what's going on in their head. You're greatly overthinking this. Aug 17, 2017 at 12:31
  • They could be trying to let you down easy, cold feet, low self-confidence, miscommunicated expectations during your conversation... any number of things. Talk to them! Even if it is a decline, you'll learn how to modify your approach in the future.
    – user812786
    Aug 17, 2017 at 12:55

2 Answers 2


One of the golden rules of business:

If you're unclear what the written communication means, call the writer to clarify.

To explicitly answer your 3 questions:

  1. We don't know, ask them.
  2. It's wise to ask, that's how you learn.
  3. Don't assume, ask.

It reads as a pretty clear decline to me, but it doesn't make that explicit. It could be someone who doesn't feel comfortable stepping up with a clear rejection or it could be that they are still open to the idea of taking on the role. If you're still interested in hiring them then it's probably worth dropping them an e-mail or giving them a call to discuss where they are at and see how it goes.

If the answer is a more definite no then you can just say that you're sorry that it didn't work out, but you wish them the best etc.


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