Why You Should Never Feel Guilty About Declining a Job Offer

3 minute read

Searching for your next big job can be a wild ride—exhilarating one moment, discouraging the next. Between scouring CV tips, attending loads of interviews and negotiating over salaries, it’s easy to get swept up in the moment.

Declining a job offer might seem daunting at first, but don’t let it feel like a bad breakup. You’re not disappointing anyone, breaking anyone’s hearts or wasting anyone’s time.

Not sure how to decline a job offer? Here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t stress about turning down a job for something better.

Why You Should Never Feel Guilty About Declining a Job Offer

Remember, an interview is not a promise

Interviewing is a lot like a first date. You exchange some small talk, discuss your goals, get a feel for each other and try to figure out how you’ll fit into each other’s lives. And if things don’t go as well as you hope, there’s no contract that says you have to see them again.

The same goes for a job interview. There’s no promise that you’ll be chosen for the job you interview for, no matter how amazing your CV looks. So it only follows naturally that there’s no promise that you’ll take that position you interviewed for. Don’t make it out to be more than it is.


Hiring managers don’t lose sleep over candidates

Sometimes turning the tables is the easiest way to put things in perspective. Hiring managers interview many candidates—and of course, they can’t hire them all. Rejection is a natural part of the process, and we can pretty much guarantee they don’t break a sweat when they call you to let you down—or don’t even contact you again.

Don’t stress over someone who wouldn’t do the same for you. Just keep things respectful, professional and keep it moving.

Why You Should Never Feel Guilty About Declining a Job Offer

You have to do what’s best for you

When you’re assessing whether a position is going to fit well into your life, there are plenty of things to consider. Will your work/life balance be good? Is the workplace culture one you can fit with? Does it come with a pay cut that will leave you in a tight spot? Is the commute simply too long? Is the position different from what you thought before you applied?

Collect the answers to all these questions. With that info in mind, does this job meet your needs? We spend an awful lot of time at work—so if you’re going to be there, it better be good.

Never feel guilty about prioritising your needs beyond just needing to pay your bills. And understand that it’s okay to value yourself above all else. No job is going to do that for you.

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Making the wrong choice could come at a price

Never let yourself get pressured into taking a job that just isn’t right for you. Maybe you don’t have the luxury of multiple offers; maybe this is the only one being offered but it still doesn’t feel right.

Sure, you’ll be employed if you take it—despite all the cons. And sure, declining a job offer will be uncomfortable and hard after going through the process of interviewing. But ignoring your intuition can come at a high cost, even if it gets you ahead in the short term.

If you get yourself into a situation you know isn’t right, expect to have that discomfort spill over into other parts of your life. Misery at work can affect the way you interact with family at home, how often you take care of yourself and eventually take a major toll on your mental health.

Is avoiding the task of declining a job offer worth it? No way.

Facing slight conflict head-on can be uncomfortable at first. But growth requires uncomfortable moments—so bring them on.

Why You Should Never Feel Guilty About Declining a Job Offer

You’re not doing them any favours

Accepting a job you don’t want won’t benefit the employer. You won’t be doing them any favours by forcing yourself into something that doesn’t feel right. Ignoring your intuition almost never pays off in the long run—it just feels bad.

We guarantee that they’d rather have to continue interviewing to find the right candidate. Having you slug through something, only to leave later, is a way bigger pain. Just do the right thing, be upfront and own your decision.


Trust yourself

Now you know why and when declining a job offer is a good idea. So if you know that this job isn’t the one, or you’re not happy with what they’re offering, say so. You have to be your biggest defender and take care of yourself—because your job is never going to care about you the way you do.

Trust your intuition, listen to your gut and put yourself first. Never feel guilty about doing what’s best for you.

Still haven’t found the right role to say ‘yes’ to? Find out which charities are hiring today.


This post was originally published in 2020 and has been updated to ensure relevance and to reflect the current job seeker experience.

Suzie Finch

Founder of The Career Improvement Club, Suzie Finch combines extensive experience in HR and CV writing to help job seekers. Her advice and beautiful CV Designs have helped thousands of charity professionals secure brilliant career moves.

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