Turning Down a Job Offer

I’m really into first-hand stories lately. Everyone loves a good story, but I think I’ve also been blessed to find a lot of great stories about careers lately. Today’s story is about someone (left anonymous) who was searching for a job through a recruiter and then chose not to take the job.

First time in my life I’m being called ‘dishonest’ and ‘highly deceptive’ by a RECRUITER, for turning down a job offer that he approached me with. I was fully committed during the whole interview process because my current company was nowhere near to offering me a permanent position which I badly needed. FYI I served there for almost 2 yrs. But when I told them I’m leaving, they gave me a competitive counteroffer. So I stayed there mainly due to location convenience involving family reasons.

Anyways, I apologized to the recruiter like million times, but he didn’t stop badmouthing me. My question to all people out there, can you tell me what I did wrong? I stayed transparent to him during the whole process.

I’m sure this was a devastating moment for the recruiter who is likely getting paid based on the person taking the job. So, I partially understand the recruiter’s response. However, it’s never good to make your clients feel like they’re being “dishonest” and “highly deceptive.”

Of course, we’re only hearing one side of the story. Maybe the recruiter would have another perspective which would make us think otherwise. However, this story really highlights the key to any relationship: communication and transparency.

If the job seeker isn’t transparent with the recruiter and the potential employer, then the recruiter would have plenty of reasons to be upset. However, even then it might not be in the recruiter’s best interest to get upset. You don’t want to burn bridges that you might need later. In this case, it seems like he was open and transparent about his intent. The counteroffer came and the potential company lost the bidding war.

What do you think of this situation? Should the job seeker have approached it differently?

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • Based on the available information, it sounds like the job seeker was honest about wanting/needing another job. It appears his current employer only focused on his value when they were faced with losing him. If he preferred his current employer’s counter offer that is fair and reasonable.

  • I had a situation where I signed a contract as a contractor, and I had to go back to the recruiter’s office next day to resign because my mother’s health took a sharp decline and had to go back to my home country to see her.
    I not only was transparent, but also made a several recommendations on possible recruits who were in the similar job market. I personally called them and asked if it was ok to share their contact information with the recruiter. The recruiter was very understanding and appreciative of my gesture. At the end, one of the people recommended got the job, and when I returned, the recruiter and I re-started the job search.
    Trying to be in other’s shoes and offer a solution instead of telling only your side of the story is one of the best things you can do to save “face” of both parties.

  • Thanks for sharing your experiences. Daisuke, you’re right that it usually pays to go the extra mile to preserve the relationship as best you can.

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