How to Withdraw Your Application Without Burning Bridges

Carrying on in the interview process for a job you don't feel excited about is never a good idea, instead getting out early and maintaining a good relationship with the hiring manager could be the smarter move.

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Withdrawing your job application after showing an initial bout of enthusiasm is frowned upon in most professional circles. So before you go ahead with this decision, consider asking yourself these questions: 

  1. What has changed between the time of you applying for the job and now deciding to withdraw from the application process?
  2. Is there something that can change your mind and sway you in favour of the company?
  3. Is this a good career move?

If the answers to these questions are resoundingly negative, then by all means, go right ahead. 

We all have different strategies on the job hunt. Maybe you came to the realization that the position isn’t going to benefit your career in any way, and that’s perfectly fine. Or you might send out hundreds of applications and end up having to schedule back-to-back interviews, only to realize closer to the date, that you’d need to forego one interview in favor of another. But be aware that there’s a chance you’ll end up sabotaging both opportunities because you didn’t consider how connected professionals are within the same industry. 

But this has to be handled with tact and you should be aware of the specific protocols and professional etiquette of doing so. Here’s how to remove yourself from the hiring process without heading straight onto a blacklist:

Withdraw Promptly and With Tact

Our most important piece of advice: Do not ghost hiring managers or recruiters on the day of the interview. 

How you deal with such a situation will speak volumes about your integrity as an employee and a person. Don’t keep them hanging – let the hiring manager know as soon as you’ve made up your mind, and do it professionally. 

Be transparent and promptly inform them about your change of circumstances. If possible, save them time by offering to recommend a colleague/acquaintance who could be a good fit for the same position.

How to Withdraw

Email

You can send an email expressing appreciation and gratitude for the employer's time and effort in reviewing your application. It’d be good to mention why you have decided to withdraw your application without going too much into detail. This is only to be expected, out of basic respect for someone else’s time. Not to mention, it would also come across more genuine and less dismissive.

If you’re withdrawing because the specific job you were interviewed for wasn’t a great match for your skills, by all means, explain this tactfully to the employer. This might result in them considering you for something more aligned with your skill set in the future (should the opportunity arise).

Give a more generic reason. If, for example, you didn’t like the company culture after your first round of interview, this is not something you should feel compelled to share. 

Phone call

Only if you’ve established a good relationship with the hiring manager or recruiter, give them a call. It’ll sound more personal and hearing the sincerity in your voice would be more effective than over email. You should still follow up after the call with an email to have everything on record.

Keep It Positive

Always remember that you are withdrawing your application for this particular position and not the company. You still want to be considered for any future positions which might be in tuned with your career goals. Also, word travels fast – it is best not to leave a bad impression and possibly ruin your reputation in an industry you’re trying to carve out a career path in.

 Withdrawing your application in a timely and professional manner may also open new doors – if you impress your recruiter with your professionals and skills, they could end up pointing you in the direction of job openings you didn’t know about.

Marco Eylert
Co-Founder | TalentSpace

Marco's a co-founder at TalentSpace, and he previously worked at McKinsey & Company, Roland Berger and Credit Suisse. He graduated from Bocconi University and Johns Hopkins SAIS, where he was a scholar of the Haniel Foundation and the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes.

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