Also, regardless of the outcome of your job search, you want to send a thank you letter to the contact who got you in the door in the first place. Contacts need to be maintained, and even if things didn't go as hoped this time, that doesn't mean that next time they won't. If you treat the contact properly, they'll be more inclined to keep their ear to the ground for future openings they may hear about.
Even if a contact is one of your best friends, don't take him or her for granted. We all have lots of friends, but how many would you recommend to come work at your place of business? A professional note of thank you is not only considerate, it shows that you can handle yourself gracefully in a business setting.
In the following pages, we give examples of three different types of decline letters. The first writer has received a better offer, but her letter honestly and politely keeps the door open while inviting the first employer to sweeten the offer. The second letter is an outright turndown, but the writer's graciousness ensures that his interview can serve him well in the future. The third writer has withdrawn her name from consideration, but has briefly given her reasons for doing so, preventing herself from seeming flaky.
Decline letter #1
Decline letter #2
Decline letter #3
When the employer left your interview more impressed than you were, you'll be in a position to decline the offer they presented you with. You should first decline politely over the phone so the employer can offer the job to the next-best applicant as soon as possible. However, a true professional never lets any future networking opportunity turn into a dead end. Particularly in today's job market, in which employees flit between companies like pollinating bees, you need to keep your options open for the future.