Thanks, But No Thanks: Five Ways to Politely Decline a Job Offer

Common wisdom dictates that every so often a professional should shop around -- circulate her resume and go on a few job interviews to determine her worth and marketability. This isn't a bad idea; however, it can put a passive job seeker in an awkward situation if she gets a job offer she isn't really interested in at the moment.

So how does a job seeker reject a potential employer without burning a bridge? Try any one of these five suggestions.

1. The Big Picture
Simply say that although the position is highly attractive, it doesn't truly fit with your long-term career plans.

2. Play the Family Card
Reveal that you discussed the opportunity with your family and while it's very appealing, this isn't the best time for you to make a change.

3. Your Ex Wants You Back
Share that your current employer got wind of your wandering eye and has made you a counteroffer. If this isn't at all true and you're worried it could get back to a would-be employer, share that your employer has offered you greater responsibilities (and then be sure to make that happen).
4. Location, Location, Location
State that after much careful consideration, you realized that the location might not gel with your lifestyle. Perhaps your daily commute would be extended or the company's setting -- be it urban, suburban or rural -- isn't right for you

5. Money Talks
You can decline almost any position because the salary is too low. Be cautious using this excuse, though; an employer may ask you how much money you want -- and then agree to the sum. If you don't accept the position after that, you can consider this bridge burned to a crisp.

Remember to always be flattering and gracious toward your would-be employer. Also, the sooner you let a hiring manager know you're not going to accept a position, the better. If you act early enough, you may even be able to politely decline -- or simply take yourself out of the running -- by sending a formal business letter or a well-written e-mail.

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