How To Turn Down A Job Offer From A Friend?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a job offer from a friend:

I used to have a graphics designer job in the city but about six months ago I was able to start working in my hometown. I’m enjoying my work and my office and I get to save a lot because things are cheaper here. I still do some graphic design work out from home.A few weeks ago one of my best friends in college who works for a very popular but young design studio in the city told me that he referred me to the studio owners and they wanted to interview me for a position. I am very hesitant about moving back to the city and when I went to the interview, I stated my hesitation and that I might opt for a project-based collaboration instead of a full-time job. I am very much happy in my current job but I want to collaborate with a popular studio too. But they were insistent with me joining their team full-time and gave an offer.

Then, just a few days ago I heard from my boss that I got a raise, which matches up to the one the studio offered (I haven’t said anything to my boss about the interview yet. It made me think about the pros and cons of staying in my current job: I like this job and I am healthier, more productive, and less stressed in here than the city. My current company is more stable and organized. I can collaborate with other artists and studios even if I stay here. So all the pros go to me staying here. But, how will I break it to the studio and especially, to my friend? He and everyone in the studio was very nice to me when I visited. How can I avoid burning bridges with my friend and the studio?

Signed, Torn Between Two Options

Dear Torn Between Two Options:

Fortunately for you, at least your job decision is easy to make. You know you want to stay in your current situation and not take the offered job. You say that you told them in the interview that you were hesitant, so it won’t be a big surprise to them. Undoubtedly they would like to have you but they are probably half-way prepared for you to turn it down. (Lucky for you to be wanted!) It seems to work well to not have a big speech memorized about these things, just have one or two sentences that are dependable and say them at the very beginning. The rest of the conversation will develop from that. That avoids the long drawn out explanation that can be irritating to the person being told no. Just say it and get it over with.

So, you might say, “Jim, I’ve decided to stay exactly where I am and not take the job you so kindly offered me. Thank you very much for your support and encouragement.” Then, just stop. He may accept that or try to get you to change your mind. Just be a broken record, “No, I won’t change my mind, I’m going to stay where I am and not take the job. Thank you though.” If he offers something more, you can say it again, “Thank you, Jim. That’s wonderful of you. But, my mind is made up and I’m staying where I am and not taking that very kind offer.”You might be a bit more forceful and say, “Really, thank you but it’s just not what I want and since I have what I want right now I’m staying here.”You’ll find that the quicker you say it and get it over with, the better. No one needs to know about either your interview or your new salary–you simply have decided to stay where you are and not take the offered job.You asked how you can say no without burning bridges. Consider writing a brief thank you note to each person who participated in your interview process. Say about the same thing to each one, but vary it enough to make it personal. Send an especially thankful note to the friend who contacted you. It was very nice of him and that should be encouraged.You might also consider sending some small edible item as a gift to the office, along with a note that says something like, “A little gift for some true professionals. Your encouragement and support means a lot to me. If I can be a resource for you in the future, please let me know.”Those are all ways to show some class about saying no. Having applicants turn down a job is fairly common so they will move past it. Just keep an appreciative approach and don’t let yourself get in a discussion about what it would take for you to change your mind.As another thought–if you know someone who could fit the role you interviewed for, consider passing that name along to your friend.I know this is awkward, but you so obviously will be better off not taking the job. Once you get past this first awkward time of telling them the truth, it will be easier.Best wishes to you. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe