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How to Respond to a Job Search Offer or Rejection

Whether or not you get the job you just applied for, your response is important. You should always write a letter in response to the company's decision.

Job offer responses

What do you say when you receive a job offer? (Other than "Hallelujah!") No matter what your decision, remember to say that you much appreciate the offer. You have three basic options — "yes," "no," or "too late."

Offer acceptances

Thank the hiring manager for the job offer, mentioning the full job title, and formally accept it. Mention your understanding of the terms and conditions of employment: compensation, work hours, starting date, where you will report to work, and any special conditions, such as company-supplied uniforms, short-term or contract work, and required training. If the company's written offer covered all the important bases, you can cut it short like this:

I am happy to accept your offer as stated in your letter of [date]. The job offer letter contains the compensation we agreed to — [$ amount]. I'm very much looking forward to seeing you on my first day, which is [date] at [location].

Offer declines

Politely and briefly decline the job offer, to maintain good relations with the employer and keep the door open for future offers. You never know what good fortune could develop if you handle a turndown with class. Mention that the decision was difficult to make and that you wish the employer all possible success. Your phrasing can be along these lines:

Thank you very much for your job offer of an engineering position in your R&D division. Unfortunately, I must decline your offer. After intense review, I just can't make the numbers come out right for me. Your job will not meet my financial needs, considering my student loans and living costs in San Francisco.
I am sorry that I won't be working with the impressive people I've met at your excellent company. I appreciate the time and consideration you've given to me, and I sincerely hope we have the opportunity to meet in the future.

Name withdrawals

When you take another job before an offer comes through, write a short, respectful response telling the truth. Here's a sample note:

I was delighted to receive your interesting offer for [position title] at [organization]. Although I am impressed with both the position and your company, I've received another offer that I think more closely matches what I'm looking for. That's why, after giving it deep hours of thought, I must decline your fine job offer.
Thank you for your time and effort. I hold the best thoughts for you and your company's bright future.

Rejection follow-ups

When you don't get the job, send what some call the "suck it up and smile" letter as an investment in your reputation.

Graciously thank the hiring manager for the interview and consideration. Ask that you be kept in mind for future openings. Send a similar (but not duplicate) letter to the human resources representative or recruiter with the company. Personalize both letters by saying what impressed you about the company and the position.

Anything can happen. The new hire for the job you wanted may quickly and abruptly resign, and you'll get a call. The recipient of your letter may wish he could have hired both of you and recommend you to a colleague for another open position. Such occurrences are infrequent, but they do happen.

Job return agreements

You're surprised when a company that laid you off wants you back. You're wondering if a second act on the same stage is a productive move in your career. After investigation, you're willing to have a homecoming. Okay, but try to sweeten your deal by writing a job return agreement. Here's an example of asking for a pay raise and no waiting time for benefits:

I am looking for market rate compensation, considering that, since I left the company, I have gained several skills that will help me do my job even better (name the skills). Because I know the job and the company, I will be 100 percent productive as soon as I start.
I ask that I resume all employee benefits immediately and that my seniority rights be restored as if there were no break in service.
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