Print Story How do you turn down a job offer?
Working life
By ObviousTroll (Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 10:03:09 AM EST) migratory, flightless, sea bird (all tags)
So, I've been postponing writing a diary because I've got this story/thing/need brewing in the back of my head and I've been waiting for the right time for it all to pour out.

This is not that time.

Poll: Have you ever turned down a job offer?

But, I guess my extended rant diary about what a mofo time is will just have to wait, because time ain't.

You may recall my angst-ridden departure from $STARTUP_COMPANY to $PHARMA_COMPANY and my subsequent reversal a year later.

That turn around has had it's ups and downs as you might imagine. The up: working with old friends again. The down: they all quit $STARTUP_COMPANY within 6 months of my return.

Our company is really struggling - despite being 6 or so years old, we still aren't self-sustaining and we're having a lot of trouble hiring anyone to fill the holes in the software team.

And, yet, when the offer came, I told them no. Another small start up, only 10 or so employees, a chance to work with old friends on $INSANELY_COOL_TECH_WITH_MILITARY_APPLICATIONS and a chance to work with $MINOR_GEEK_HERO_FROM_THE_DAWN_OF_THE_COMPUTER_AGE I just couldn't find my comfort level with them. My wife felt (I think) even more anxiety than I did about the possible change, so, I had no choice. Today I sent the other company an email:


After serious consideration I have decided to regretfully decline your job offer.

While I am certain that $STARTUP has a great future, and I would enjoy working with $FRIEND1 and $FRIEND2 again, I feel that it's important to me, personally, to finish the work I'm doing with super computer clusters; I just don't feel that I can abandon all the work I've done over the past few years.

I'm sincerely sorry to have to tell you no - but I feel that it is the best thing for myself and probably for $STARTUP as well.

What do you think? Did I strike the right note?
Have you ever turned down a job offer?

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How do you turn down a job offer? | 27 comments (27 topical, 0 hidden)
WIPO: Don't call back by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #1 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 10:19:22 AM EST
It may not have been an offer, but someone called me a few weeks back talking about some more independent work (within $mega-corp). I've been too busy to call  back, plus I have lots of work for me here.

At least it's nice to be asked.

As a loser... by NoMoreNicksLeft (4.00 / 1) #2 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 10:22:14 AM EST
I work a string of short-term temp projects, sometimes with months in between. I'm never offered anything that anyone would think of as a real job for anyone over the age of 16.

The closest thing to a job offer that comes to mind is 1999, my girlfriend and I had just moved to Richmond, VA. Struggling to find anything, I had applied at all the agencies while waiting for at least some little low-life computer tech job.

One job was for a grocery store warehouse, some distributer for a chain in that region. I'm thinking this is temp, they act -way too friendly- when I arrive, ushering me off to get my doorbadge and all these other things that can't possibly be worthwhile for someone who won't be there but a few weeks.

Turns out my job was sorting all the pallets that stoned forklift drivers impaled while showing off. Some goods would be damaged, others undamaged but with leaked foodstuffs all over them, which they wanted to rinse off and repack.

The sheer multitude of colors that mold can exhibit is impossible to imagine until you've seen them. There were some that I am quite certain are not earthly life forms, even to this day. Likewise, there are nearly an infinite number of odors that are quite obviously distinct, and yet gag-inducing to the point that I do not know what force persuaded me to endure, rather than will myself to die. It is not altogether implausible that I was subconsciously worried that some xenomorphic purple slime might envelope my still warm corpse and reanimate it, only to make it robotically march home and eat my now ex-girlfriend (which recently has been a fantasy of mine, not a horror, but that is another story).

Mine eyes, they have lain upon things which your feeble mind cannot fathom.

They were really cheerful though as I left, all waved to me with big bright smiles (those not wearing paper face masks). The temp agency lady was not happy when I caller her up and said I would not be returning.

That is the closest I've ever been to turning down a job offer, though I think it might not qualify me. Usually they just can my ass.
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.

I turned down an offer once by webwench (2.00 / 0) #3 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 10:26:42 AM EST
and I'm sure I didn't strike the right note. I was winding down from two years as a contractor at The Coca-Cola Company, and was casting about for what would be the next position. I interviewed for a job with the state government that, skillwise, would have been an excellent match. They made me an offer that was so laughably low, as in $30k less than what I was already making, that I just said "gee, no thanks".

Not striking the right note hasn't been a hindrance for me, so, given that you seemed polite enough in your refusal, I wouldn't worry about it.

Of course, the offer I did accept, with $runFast, hasn't exactly turned out swimmingly, but then again, it kept me in coffee and donuts for six or so years, and the first couple years were pretty decent.

"some days it just doesn't pay to chew through the straps." - clock

About the donuts by Rogerborg (4.00 / 2) #7 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 10:59:08 AM EST
I've been watching you through Google Earth, and, well, you might want to cut back a little.

Metus amatores matrum compescit, non clementia.
[ Parent ]
hey, it's cold by webwench (4.00 / 1) #14 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 12:21:13 PM EST
that's all sweater, baby.

And I sent most of my donuts to MillMan, lord knows what he did with them.

"some days it just doesn't pay to chew through the straps." - clock

[ Parent ]
I have to admit, by ObviousTroll (4.00 / 1) #9 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 11:22:09 AM EST
When they misjudge the salary requirements that badly it's hard to keep a straight face.

[ Parent ]
State Jobs by FlightTest (4.00 / 2) #12 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 12:15:26 PM EST
Presuming that Georgia works like California, the person offering the job has little to no leeway. My boss freely admits that the state pays substantially less than the going rate for virtually all job classifications. However, the benefits far outstrip what the private sector gives. I don't think the benefits make up the difference entirely, but you have to consider them. Also, there is a non-insignificant number of people who work for the state precisely because it's very difficult to be fired.

[ Parent ]
I expected a lower by webwench (4.00 / 2) #13 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 12:20:21 PM EST
offer from a government employer, and was prepared to take lower salary for the right job, but damn, not that much lower. If there were sufficient benefits to outweigh the poor offer, they weren't shared with me.

"some days it just doesn't pay to chew through the straps." - clock

[ Parent ]
Relatively short time to a pension by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #18 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 02:28:42 PM EST
and job security, from what I know of state jobs.

[ Parent ]
Ask your poll question again in 3 weeks by joh3n (2.00 / 0) #4 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 10:30:34 AM EST
I suspect my answer will be 'yes'.


Break a leg. by ana (4.00 / 2) #5 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 10:41:19 AM EST
It's nice to be wanted. :-)

Can you introspect out loud? --CRwM

[ Parent ]
Yeah by Man (2.00 / 0) #6 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 10:50:56 AM EST
That's about the way to do it. I've generally used whatever communications channel they used to give the offer. (Once was in person when the interviewer offered me a contract on the spot. (It was a one-person company, and I thought their idea was not strong.))

The biggest trouble is telling them why you won't work for them without burning bridges by telling them they suck.

WIPO: Not as such by Rogerborg (4.00 / 1) #8 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 11:03:27 AM EST
I've only ever applied to one company that I wasn't a priori sure that I'd work for, and I terminated that interview on the grounds that they were a bunch of wankers.  I was far too polite to tell them that, of course, I just thanked them for wasting my time by mis-advertising the job, got up and left.

For those keeping score, it should be noted that most of the operational issues at my current workplace are caused by a manager who started the same week that I did.

Metus amatores matrum compescit, non clementia.

I've turned down a few by lm (2.00 / 0) #10 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 11:58:00 AM EST
On some of them, I managed to keep from laughing.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
I have indeed by Gedvondur (4.00 / 1) #11 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 12:10:41 PM EST
I have turned down a couple.  Most of the time it's because they want me to move to a metropolitan area on the coast or its a very small company.  Many of these companies that want me to relocate would move me from a place where a decent house costs less than 200k, to a place where a hovel costs in the range of 700+k.  Just to make the deal sweeter, they offer 20k more a year than I make.  Those receive a "No thank you, but I appreciate the offer."

The ones with very small companies I have a harder time with.  There is always the possibility that the little company will do well and get swallowed by a competitor for a ridiculous amount of money, and set me up for life. 

However the more likely outcome is that they will squeeze me for work util bleed from my armpits.  Then I will have to quit to keep my sanity or the company will fail.

You gotta feel its right.  That first feeling is usually the right one.  One other thing, while the old marriage is a partnership yadda yadda, I don't let my wife's heebie-jeebies factor into it.  Her opininions on moving to another state, yes.  Her worries about my potential employer, no.

"If you do not sin, then you too may some day float like a big pink Goodyear blimp of The Lord." -theboz

Well, I would suggest that by ObviousTroll (2.00 / 0) #19 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 03:01:02 PM EST
after almost 20 years, I've learned to value my wife's insights into human relations - especially since, as an uber-meta-geek my human-relationship-sense was accidentally cut off by the rabbi during the bris.

[ Parent ]
I've sorta turned down two by gazbo (4.00 / 1) #15 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 12:40:03 PM EST
The first was for an MOD-related job - I accepted, but after waiting several months for security clearance (well after the supposed start date) I just got another job.  What the fuck did they think I was going to live off?  OK, not their fault the MOD took so long, but I had little choice.

Second time, I was concerned about the future of the company I was in, so went to an interview down South with a company a friend worked for.  Interview went well, and they clearly liked me, and asked how much I wanted.  I asked for (IIRC) £6k more than I was on in my Sheffield job - bear in mind this is about 1 year out of university.  In the interview they said they thought that was a bit high for my experience, and then a few days later phoned me and offered about £3k more.

Once you've taken a chunk out of that for tax, then increased cost of living (esp. rent), then extra for commuting...suddenly it's a pay cut.

So, I told them so in a polite way.  It was all perfectly amicable on both sides.

I recommend always assuming 7th normal form where items in a text column are not allowed to rhyme.

Yeah, location changes are tough to figure out. by ObviousTroll (2.00 / 0) #20 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 03:09:14 PM EST
At least 3 times in my career I've been... encouraged to "Go West, Young Man." but each time, the sticker shock of living out in Silicon Valley sent me running back home1.

1 Well, that and SWHTL would find me, hit me with a trank dart and throw me in the back of her truck and... oh, nevermind.

[ Parent ]
Silicon Valley by Man (4.00 / 1) #22 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 05:00:58 PM EST
Yes, where any idiot can make $100k, but where $100k is barely enough for a middle class life.

The real advantage there isn't the salaries but the sheer number of jobs.

[ Parent ]
I've only ever gotten one, so, no. by Canthros (2.00 / 0) #16 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 01:11:23 PM EST
So far, between my winning personality and stunning resumé, it's been a trick to get much.

I'm not here, man.

Yes by gpig (2.00 / 0) #17 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 02:16:56 PM EST
Straight out of University (in 2000) I was offered £10k to debug largely uncommented C++ which had been written by summer students.

20 GOTO 10

(,   ,') -- eep
Heh. by ObviousTroll (2.00 / 0) #21 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 03:16:13 PM EST
Remind me to tell you sometime about the HPC math package we use...

[ Parent ]
When I was ubnemployed I turned down $200k/yr by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #23 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 05:12:25 PM EST
Which was what KBR offered me for unspecified work in Iraq in 2004. They offered high pay, great benefits, and said I would be absolutely forbidden from carrying a weapon.

I was desperate, but not insane.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

But, if you'd survived... by ObviousTroll (2.00 / 0) #24 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 05:21:25 PM EST
You'd probably have something like 90% of that pay still in the bank, waiting for you to come home and spend it...

Then again, maybe not.

[ Parent ]
If I'd survived... by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #27 Tue Feb 21, 2006 at 02:43:28 AM EST

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
I've never turned down a formal offer by creo (2.00 / 0) #25 Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 08:16:06 PM EST
But I have people hassling me about 3 or 4 times a year to come working for them if I'm available. Note, these are real jobs people not agencies trying to put me on their books. In this case, it's easy - I just tell them I'm still busy, but feel free to contact me in a few months.

But an actual formal offer where I have interviewed - no.

Despite that, I think your response hits the right note. It's not that they suck, it is more that you are a professional, and don't want to leave your current guys in the lurch.

It leaves channels open if you decide otherwise in the future.


"I shall do what I believe to be right and honourable" - Guderian

don't lose sleep over it by tps12 (2.00 / 0) #26 Tue Feb 21, 2006 at 02:21:53 AM EST
If most any company were turning you down (as happens frequently in Soviet Russia), you'd be lucky if they deigned to let you know about about it. I think it's safe to assume that they're big boys and can handle the rejection.

How do you turn down a job offer? | 27 comments (27 topical, 0 hidden)