Most badass way to decline an offer?

Just saw on linkedin the following post from an IB recruiter:

"[...]a candidate we had offered a full time grad role to returned his signed offer letter. Issue was that it was his signed offer letter for one of our competitors - a novel way of letting us know he was declining us."

lol I fell like I was reading wso and not linkedin. So, just out of curiosity, have you heard/done something similar?

Comments (42)

Jan 17, 2019

Not a badass way to decline but this gave me a bit of satisfaction.

It's the start of a recruiting season and I was applying to every firm I could find (as you do). That summer I meet the MD of a largish boutique in London and we have a coffee chat about his firm, what they do etc - the usual. He tells me they are not hiring in the London office but sends my CV to another MD at another European office and says this guy will call me. Mid September I get a call from his secretary saying "We got your CV from [London MD] and [Other MD] would like to have you over for an interview. Are you available two weeks from now?". I say yes and wait. These two weeks pass and I hear nothing so I call and the secretary says "[Other MD] has been very busy lately, would it be possible to organize it in 1 month?" What are you going to do in this case? You say yes and suck it up. Another month passes and nothing so I call again and this time the secretary mentions "Unfortunately we are having recruitment issues and have halted it for now". Clearly I am suspicious so I ask "Is this a firm wide issue?" and she replies with the golden "No, it is just this particular office". I can smell the bullshit through the phone.

By the time this happens it is mid-November and I forget about the firm. Around December I get another offer (very solid offer) from one of my top choices and I accept it straight away. Come February I get a call from the same secretary who asks "Hi [candidate], [Other MD] is still very interested in your profile and was wondering if you would still be interested in our firm?". Because I've had my leg pulled so far and they've just been so disorganized (perhaps they had issues but they could have at least sent me an email rather than ghosting me and waiting for me to call), I figure I have nothing to loose since I also have an offer. I simply go "Hi, thank you for calling me back. I have another offer at another firm which pays [insert salary] and I will be doing [insert overview of tasks] and they let me start as an Associate instead of as an Analyst. Can I expect similar offer conditions from your firm?" She goes "Umm, not really" and I close the call with "Then thank you for your time but I'm not interested in the firm. Goodbye".

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Jan 22, 2019

"I have another offer at another firm which pays [insert salary] and I will be doing [insert overview of tasks] and they let me start as an Associate instead of as an Analyst. Can I expect similar offer conditions from your firm?"

I cringed so hard reading this.

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Jan 22, 2019

Would be way more credible if you emailed them back from the other business email with your title under your signature.

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Jan 24, 2019

like goosbumps cringey

Jan 22, 2019

Should have asked to reschedule in a month

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Jan 25, 2019

Definitely should have gave them the runaround as well. Karma is necessary in this life. Not that I am spiteful but lessons have to be learned (on both sides). It's important not to be dismissive as that similar behaviour will befall other candidates - so you will be doing a great service for the greater WSO community.

Corp. Fin. Analyst currently working two finance jobs (and a teaching gig and trying to save my music production solo career). I love avocado's. And yes Cape Town is the most beautiful place in the world. Don't believe me, come thru and find out.

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Jan 17, 2019

Not too badass I just think that the outcome was pretty funny.

Rejected an SA offer for a very solid boutique with a merchant activity by declining their offer by email. The Head of grad recruitment calls me to get more informations about why I rejected them. I proceed to let her know that my other offer is better, she asks in what terms as she knows they pay street above street, I answer 'well your MD couldn't explain your business model and competitive advantage compared to pure advisory boutiques at the networking reception although he was very friendly and good at drinking'. She proceeded to let me know that if I was not to convert my other SA, the team was eager to extend the offer for FT.

Should also specify that said MD proceeded to add me on LinkedIn morning after the Superday (Saturday), although we would only heard back by Monday/Tuesday the following week. Knew I had the offer already at this point.

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Jan 21, 2019

So you were a dick. Congrats. Where was the funny part?

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Most Helpful
Jan 17, 2019

I know this isn't what you are looking for, but general advice for people early on in your careers (really any point in your career): don't burn bridges.

I understand being upset in cases where firms are disorganized or the offer is lower than what you have elsewhere, but understand that this is a point in time thing. In almost any role, especially early on in your career, you are replaceable. Not only that, but when you burn a bridge you are putting yourself at a serious disadvantage with the entire firm and potentially other related firms (the world is small). There might be a disorganized admin, MD, etc. do you really want to write off an entire firm? And things can change, your firm can struggle, other firms can change, etc, just be careful. It shows a lack of maturity, especially when it is something as simple as a difference in salary - no need to rip into other firm just tell them you have a better offer and thanks for the time, simple enough.

The two examples above don't seem extreme enough to warrant the behavior. There are clearly times when "burning a bridge" might be fine (truly toxic environments, etc) but you should just be careful.

Jan 17, 2019

I agree but in some cases, smaller firms can have an arrogance about them that is also unwarranted. You aren't a BB or MBB getting thousands of CVs and in the case where a candidate is recommended by another MD in the firm, you can take those 60 seconds to give an update about what the situation is. Also, at the time I was in a different country from the office I was applying for and the place where I ended up getting the offer so I was flying back and forth on a weekly basis to go to these interviews. That takes up time and requires a bit of coordination with your studies, finding places to stay etc. The calling was also due to the fact they wouldn't reply to emails at all which add another level of frustration.

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Jan 22, 2019

^This. Every firm you reject an offer from is a firm you're taking off the table in the future. Don't be an asshole when times are good, everyone ends up on their ass at some point in this industry and it's best to not have already turned down positions at competitive firms when you reach that point.

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Jan 23, 2019

Is turning down an offer the same as burning a bridge? I ended up declining offers from two fairly well known firms during a recruiting season. I was very respectful and gave my rationale for declining. Both times the recruiters understood and invited me to apply full time. I felt no animosity in the discussion.

Jan 25, 2019

With all due respect.

This attitude of don't burn bridges translates everywhere in life & people end up being a pushover?

I don't know of a successful tech mogul or young tech entrepreneur who doesn't have enemies in their own field or had to be bold & badass to burn a few bridges.

There is a saying pussy is as pussy does - maybe there is more truth in it!

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Jan 25, 2019

There is a difference between having enemies due to your success and unnecessarily making enemies because you can't bite your tongue. Screwing someone over in a business deal when there's value at stake is one thing. But burning a bridge while declining an offer? There's nothing to gain except a fleeting feeling of smug satisfaction. Do the latter enough and you'll never get the opportunity to do the former.

Jan 25, 2019

I totally disagree, the fact that he was not rude nor dismissive - he was rather factual and honest about his reasons of declining the offer. That is the simple truth! No bridge is being burned when you are being transparent enough for the other person to be able to evaluate your decisions by placing themselves in your shoes.

If they were in his position they also would have not accepted an interview. Clear as light of day. Well done to him for not being a chop.

Corp. Fin. Analyst currently working two finance jobs (and a teaching gig and trying to save my music production solo career). I love avocado's. And yes Cape Town is the most beautiful place in the world. Don't believe me, come thru and find out.

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Jan 25, 2019

There is a way to be factual without being rude. The fact is the replies aren't even giving the real reason for why they took the other job. I'm 100% in favor of being straightforward, that is very different than burning a bridge. I have been very factual with firms when turning them down and when quitting previous jobs (whether it be pay, company culture, location, etc) and I am on good terms with the people I still interact with there.

People are trying to "prove a point" with their reply to the firm, and I can tell you that trying to be vengeful can be harmful in certain industries, not just from people but from the way you allow it to blur your judgement. Life isn't an episode of billions where you are creating a short squeeze to your least favorite fund manager and driving away in your Ferrari while always profiting and screwing anyone you want to over.

Additionally, we are talking about declining firms that are giving you offers or are interested in you, not someone who completely screwed you over - that is probably the worst place to start "burning a bridge".

Recruiter/MD/etc:
"Hey we are interested in you, yeah our process was slow and disorgnazed but we would like to interview you/offer you a job"

Senior in college:
"Here's my signed offer to your competitor and a picture of my middle finger" (you get the point)

Let people know the truth, people will appreciate that, but there is no need to let out your anger/frustration out. Like I said, these things happen all the time.

Yes, to the response above, there are tech moguls who have enemies, everyone does, and it happens a lot more with success. What people are describing here are taking people who are as close to allies and turning them on you. Again, this isn't a firm who turned to you and said "you'll never be good enough", these are firms who think you ARE good enough.

Trust me, I am hyper competitive, in my work and my hobbies. It's how I got where I am, but I'm much more of a "show me" than "tell me" person. Use it for motivation or whatever you want but you haven't accomplished anything when turning down an offer, don't tell the other firm they missed out on the "next great analyst", have them call you in a year trying to poach you.

Funniest
Jan 17, 2019

A buddy of mine got 2 offers - he accepted both and didn't show up to one for like 7 months before they realized some ghost was on payroll.

He was arrested a few years later for insider trading.

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Jan 21, 2019

That was a roller coaster from beginning to end

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Jan 24, 2019

Did he have to pay the salary back?

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Jan 21, 2019

Not really declining an offer, but somewhat similar.

When I was looking to switch firms a number of years ago, I applied at a larger competitor through their online application (they had a posting for a position I was interested in). As is typical for larger companies, I didn't hear anything back for 3 months, which is frustrating.

Fast forward about 6 months later and I was at a networking/industry event and I just happened to bump into a senior MD at this larger competitor and I mentioned to him that I had just started at the firm I'm at now:

Senior MD - "oh wow that's great, you know we're hiring, you should have given us a look"
Me - "I actually did apply to your firm, but by the time I heard back about initial steps 3 months later, I had already started my new job"
Senior MD - blank stare

Somewhat satisfying, as I'm sure we've all been frustrated by the lack of responsiveness from employers. Not the Senior MD's fault, I'm sure he has no idea what the hiring process entails, but kinda funny/lucky to find myself in that position to tell him.

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Jan 21, 2019

This would bring me great satisfaction. The recruitment process at large firms is broken. The internet reduced the search costs in the search-theoretic problem of matching possible employees with possible employers. But while the search costs per applicant have decreased, the applicant pool has increased exponentially. I suspect that in the past 3-5 years recruitment costs per employee have risen after probably dipping in the first few years after the creation of sites like Monster, LinkedIn, Indeed, etc. And it's not clear to me that the applicant pool has increased in quality or that the quality of the matches between potential employers and employees has created greater societal utility.

The truth is that if you're recruiting for a highly-skilled position, a recruiter isn't likely a good first screen. That's why they end up looking for the same buzzwords, the same schools, the same accolades to find candidates relatively close to the ones they've already placed in similar roles. This crowds out high quality applicants from non-traditional backgrounds. And yet, these same firms get harassed about diversity issues and wonder how they fix it. You have to invest more in the recruitment process, get smarter people working in recruitment (maybe a rotation for 6-12 months for front office staff), and treat the function like it isn't just some nuisance. The Sr. MDs at any firm should know exactly how the recruitment process works, should view it as a part of their job to attract and retain talent, and should be judged against those KPIs when determining their bonuses.

At the end of the day, we're mostly a collection of smart(ish) people working in the same building toward a common goal. If no one gives a fuck about finding new smart people for the building, it's not going to last long.

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Jan 24, 2019

slowclap to that

Jan 22, 2019

As a junior in college looking for internships, I spoke with a family friend at a Chicago MM firm. He wouldn't even pass along my resume to HR since I did not study finance, and he was very sure they would not even consider me; he did not want to use his goodwill on something with such low probability. That summer I got a NYC BB internship and ultimately a return offer. While home between the internship and start of senior year, I bumped into a different family friend that also worked at the firm and we discussed my experience that summer. I mentioned that I was interested in perhaps coming to Chicago, so he encouraged me to apply. I sent him my resume and the next day the HR rep called me and I had a phone interview, which ultimately led to an in person interview with an MD, which then led to a superday in Chicago. I got an offer.

I wanted the offer out of spite, so when I declined the offer, I Bcc'd the original family friend in my reply to HR. I made sure that I did thank the firm for all of the help and support of everybody I met along the way.

Jan 22, 2019

Doesn't seem very nice to the second family friend, he introduced you and likely put in a good word for you somewhere you were sure you'd be declining an offer anyways. His word will have less weight next time he tries to introduce someone else.

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Jan 22, 2019
George_Banker:

As a junior in college looking for internships, I spoke with a family friend at a Chicago MM firm. He wouldn't even pass along my resume to HR since I did not study finance, and he was very sure they would not even consider me; he did not want to use his goodwill on something with such low probability. That summer I got a NYC BB internship and ultimately a return offer. While home between the internship and start of senior year, I bumped into a different family friend that also worked at the firm and we discussed my experience that summer. I mentioned that I was interested in perhaps coming to Chicago, so he encouraged me to apply. I sent him my resume and the next day the HR rep called me and I had a phone interview, which ultimately led to an in person interview with an MD, which then led to a superday in Chicago. I got an offer.

I wanted the offer out of spite, so when I declined the offer, I Bcc'd the original family friend in my reply to HR. I made sure that I did thank the firm for all of the help and support of everybody I met along the way.

I would understand a little bit better if you tried to screw over the guy who wouldn't recommend you. Instead, you tried to screw the guy who tried to help you. Ultimately, you aren't giving the finger to the firm (trust me, they don't care), but you're giving it to someone who tried to help you. For your sake, you better hope he never has any success at all in his career because I don't think he'll be sticking out his neck for you again. The firm won't remember, but he might.

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Jan 22, 2019

It's amazing how personally so many people take no-offers. You all realize that every year there are far more well-qualified candidates that I wish I had capacity to hire but can't? For every one person I hire, I have to disappoint dozens / hundreds of others, then do that year-in and year-out.

I have definitely leaned in to refer to other banks some candidates that get far in our process and just fell short or got unlucky. Burning bridges is such a bad idea.

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Jan 23, 2019

I made sure to not burn the bridge with the man that helped me. I personally explained to him why the BB offer was better. Actually, it was your firm, Dick. (I amuse myself with that play on words).

I should have made this clear, the first guy that did not help me was not in IBD - I don't quite remember what he did.

Jan 23, 2019

Some of the recruiting processes are very frustrating and I think its very easy to get into the mindset of "how can I get them back" or show them somehow.

The latest frustrating incident was when I was looking at a boutique (out of state) and spent quite a bit of cycle time interviewing, modeling test etc.....all of this culminating with an in-office visit (which they didn't foot the bill for). After the in-office things looked very good to going towards offer but then silence. After multiple follow-ups, could never connect, never got an answer as to the status of my application. This has happened a few times in my career.

It's very frustrating not even receive an answer after making their process a priority. As some have mentioned here, it's never good to burn bridges and I agree. Almost always it just helps to step back and try to shake it off and move on.

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Jan 23, 2019

Never pay your own way to an interview outside of your current area code. Full stop. That is the reddest of red flags.

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Jan 25, 2019

and thats how you never get into banking from a non-target

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Jan 23, 2019

**At end of F500 internship review:

Senior VP: "On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to accept a full time offer from us?"

** Roughly 20 milliseconds of time elapses

Me: "4"

Senior VP: >:O

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Jan 23, 2019
THE PsYcHoLoGy:

**At end of F500 internship review:

Senior VP: "On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to accept a full time offer from us?"

** Roughly 20 milliseconds of time elapses

Me: "4"

Senior VP: >:O

Shocked pikachu

Jan 25, 2019

Haha holy shit man that was me last summer

"It is not our circumstance that controls us, but our thoughts that control our circumstance." -James Allen

Jan 28, 2019
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Feb 1, 2019
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