It Is Important To Say No Professionally

by | Mar 9, 2020 | Interviewing

It would be almost impossible to go through your entire job search without saying “No” at some point to a prospective employer. Your need to say “No” may come early in the process, such as during a phone screen when you find out that the pay rate is not acceptable. It could also be right at the end, when you are determining (between two offers) which one to select.

We say “No” all the time in our lives (especially if you are a parent), but when it comes to saying it to a Hiring Manager or Recruiter, it seems a Job Seeker finds it almost impossible to do it well. In the worst case scenario (which seems to happen too frequently), it is an area where Job Seekers can even fail the common courtesy test.

We all know how to say “No”, there just seems to be a stress to doing it that makes it very difficult. It is, however, very important for your long-term career to say “No” well. I can tell you that I have (on a few occasions) felt that a candidate has handled saying “No” so poorly, that I would never consider them for another position. Below are just a few of the key reasons to say “No” professionally.

• You may be considered (down the road) for other positions at this company that you are better suited for. You want the prospective employer to remember you positively, so that you will be a candidate. If you really have left a positive impression, you may even be contacted directly, prior to the positon being publicly posted.

• Networking can be extremely important for a lot of positions. You want to make sure your reputation is sparkling so when it comes up in conversation, it is done positively. Western New York is also a “small world”, so you may connect again with these people at another company.

• Recruiters are human beings just like you. We all want to be treated with respect and courtesy. Giving them a call and telling them “No” is a small way towards doing that.

The following are some tips that may help you not only say “No”, but do it in a professional manner.

• Make Direct Contact – It is so tempting to just send an e-mail to inform the Hiring Manager that you are no longer interested in the position. It is quick and allows you to avoid the awkwardness of direct communication. However, how many times have you received an e-mail from a prospective employer (that you have spoken to numerous times) to inform you that you did not receive the position? The answer is probably too many times. Give the Hiring Manager a call and let him or her know of your decision, particularly if you have already been interviewed, and especially if you have been offered the position.   This call should be done during business hours, where you can reasonably expect the person to answer. Remember, the point is that you actually want to speak directly to the person.

• Do It Timely – Recruiters get nervous when a coveted candidate suddenly “goes quiet”? The longer the silence, the more the concern can grow. If you are at the offer stage, your procrastination can even have a negative impact on the prospective employer. In many situations, they have stopped interviewing candidates, so your “No” may cause them to have to restart the entire process.   This could cause weeks (or even months) of delay for them.  The moral of this bullet point is to communicate your “No” as soon as reasonably possible.

 Show Your Sensitive Side – You know the feeling of being told that you are not receiving the position you wanted. The feeling is similar when the reverse happens and a Recruiter is told that you are not going to join the company. In essence, the further along you are the more it will sting (just like it does for you). So, don’t brag about the other opportunity, give thanks for the time, and communicate that you hope there will be a time when you can all work together. It is probably tempting to express an apology during this call (and if it makes you feel better than do it), but it is not necessary.


Some of you may be reading this week’s article and thinking that it would be nice if prospective employers held themselves to the same standard. I would wholeheartedly agree that it would be great if Recruiters and Hiring Managers always conducted themselves in the manner outlined above. You can, however, only control yourself and your actions, and it is in your best interest to say “No” professionally.

As always, best of luck in your job search.

The following has been prepared for the general information of WNYJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.

Joe Stein
WNY Human Resources Professional

Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at:
Joe Stein

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