I would like to change my answer please.
January 18, 2012 1:38 PM   Subscribe

Work Filter: Please help me diplomatically word an email recinding a job offer that I accepted.

I'm sure I'm a horrible person for doing this.

My current job situation has grown quite ridiculous over the past several months which lead me to circulating ye olde resume. I went on a bunch of interviews and accepted a position at a small company working in an area that I'm a bit "meh" about. However, I accepted it because I really wanted out of my current situation and the people seemed nice enough. My start date is scheduled for Monday.

Meanwhile, I had a company that I've always wanted to work for call *me* out of the blue to ask me if I'd be interested in interviewing for a similar position with them. I jumped at the chance and was offered the job, which I'm still a little stunned over because they are very, very difficult to get in with. I guess I went on the interview figuring there was no harm since they're really tough to get one's foot in the door. The people at this company are amazing and I could really see myself fitting in well with the team. The company culture seems to better suit me. The list goes on and the prospect of working for them gets me EXCITED, which I haven't been about a job in a very long time. I negotiated a fair salary with them and accepted the position.

Now, I obviously have to tell the other company (the smaller one) that I'm no longer interested in working for them. The offer letter that I signed for them states that it is "at will" employment, so either of us could terminate at any time.

I don't believe in burning bridges and know that it's kind of a dick move on my part to rescind the offer, but I feel the other opportunity is a better personal business decision for me. What is the best way to communicate that I would like to politely decline my acceptance and no hard feelings?
posted by floweredfish to Work & Money (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I would email your contact there as soon as possible and say something like:
For personal reasons, I have decided to rescind my acceptance to your offer of employment. I understand that this is short notice and hope that it will not cause you too much inconvenience.
Best regards,

(I'd email rather than call to avoid having to answer any questions.)
posted by chickenmagazine at 1:44 PM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

Keep it short, unemotional and professional. Offer sincere apologies, mean it and leave it at that. Breast beating is of no use to them. This happens a great deal more than you might think.

By the way, congrats you on the new job and being headhunted by a dream employer. Give yourself a big pat on the back, clearly good things are being said about you in your field. Now, go an knock it out of the park!
posted by dmt at 1:45 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Dear Whomever,

I must regretfully inform you that as of [date] I am rescinding my acceptance of your job offer, due to personal circumstances. I appreciate the opportunity you have offered and hope that you will find a suitable candidate for this position. Thank you.

posted by griphus at 1:46 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

...and hope that it will not cause you too much inconvenience.

Yeah make sure to stick that in there as well.
posted by griphus at 1:47 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

When did you accept? Assuming you've had this lined up for a while, you are burning a bridge no matter what. So just be brief, apologise, and don't get into an argument via replies, because you will not help yourself.

Most importantly, send it ASAP. There's no wording that will make this hunky-dory, and waiting even until tomorrow would be less considerate that sending it now.
posted by _Silky_ at 2:04 PM on January 18, 2012

Agreed - a concise letter, perhaps a bit warmer would not do you harm, considering it's a small business and the bridge could be less burned through a less formal tone.

Interesting note ... their response & reaction will be revealing. It may make your decision to not join an easier one (or not).
posted by Kruger5 at 2:12 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks everyone - this was really helpful. I know any way I slice this it's going to look horrible, so let's see what they say.
posted by floweredfish at 2:24 PM on January 18, 2012

This is what I ended up writing:

Dear [hiring manager]:

I regret to inform you that due to personal circumstances, I have made the difficult decision to recind my acceptance to your offer of employment.

I realize this is short notice and do sincerely apologize for any inconveniences this may cause.

I truly appreciate the opportunity you had extended and wish you and your team the best of luck with your projects.

Thank you and best regards,


posted by floweredfish at 2:32 PM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

Yeah, don't beat yourself too badly here. I've experienced this one both ways, and while it's not happy news, eventually it gets filed under "shit happens."
posted by ottereroticist at 2:33 PM on January 18, 2012

At a previous job, I was the team lead when we made an offer to a young woman, it was accepted and the week before she was to start, she let us know she was declining. She was polite and like you, offered apologies.

Found out through the grapevine a competitor "scooped" us by schmoozing her harder & offering her more. No hard feelings were had; we understood that she had to take the best offer.
posted by pointystick at 2:36 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Taking your dream job never "looks horrible." The company can just make an offer to their #2 choice.
posted by rhizome at 2:42 PM on January 18, 2012

Sounds great!
posted by griphus at 2:45 PM on January 18, 2012

Your email was fine, and I'm sure they'll understand.

In the future, you might want to think about the difference between a "send an email" situation and a "pick up the phone" situation. This was probably a "pick up the phone" situation.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 3:02 PM on January 18, 2012

If she's already signed an offer letter, I think email was the better choice. Snailmail would be delaying the notice more than was necessary, but rescinding an acceptance of employment, like quitting a job, strikes me as the sort of thing one does in writing.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:28 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Update: The smaller company that I sent the email to emailed and called me back not only wanting to negotiate salary but also to give me a more flexible start date. I still politely declined due to the other job just being a better fit. I told them that I was quite flattered, but the other position just seemed to be a better fit, although I would have enjoyed working with them as well. I don't think any bad blood has been spilled and all is well in the shire.
posted by floweredfish at 5:30 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

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