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How to Say No to a Permanent Job

The company you're temping for just offered you a full-time gig. Fantastic, right? Wrong.

You don't want the job. Maybe the commute would be a killer, or the compensation package isn't good enough. Perhaps the culture feels a little toxic to you. Or, maybe you're just not interested in full-time work.

How do you say no to the offer without ticking off the hiring manager or having a bad report sent back to your agency? We've compiled these helpful tips from agency reps, temps and hiring managers to help you turn down such an offer gracefully.

Be Brief

"There's nothing wrong with politely but firmly saying something like, 'I appreciate the offer, but it doesn't coincide with my plans,' and then dropping it," says Michael Kniat, a former temp who is now director of marketing and business development for Rubenstein Technology Group in Brooklyn.

This is the best approach if you're uncomfortable talking about your reasons for declining, or if you anticipate a difficult conversation.

Be Thoughtful

If brevity isn't your style, be thoughtful. "State that you did not come by this decision lightly," advises Vicki Kunkel, CEO of the Chicago consulting firm Leader Brand Strategists. "'I put a great deal of thought and soul-searching into this,'" Kunkel suggests you might add. "'While the position is interesting and the pay competitive, I respectfully decline.'" Finally, mention a couple of specific reasons for saying no, she suggests.

That's exactly what former temp Harry Husted did when turning down a full-time position. "I preferred to work as a temp, because it allowed me to obtain more diversification and...learn new technologies," Husted says. The New York-based freelance writer explains that temping gave him "'the freedom to move around and work on different projects, instead of doing the same thing every day.'" The hiring manager understood and wished Husted well.

Be Courteous

In passing on a permanent offer, you should also avoid being negative, says Les McKeown, president and CEO of Success-At-Work and author of the e-book How to Succeed at Work.

"If you've had a bad experience at the firm, now is not the time to vent your frustration," McKeown says. "Simply explain to your hiring manager that you felt you did not 'fit' within the organization or within your role, and that you believe you would be better suited elsewhere."

Courtesy counts, McKeown says. He recommends sending a handwritten thank-you note to your hiring manager and supervisor after every temp assignment that mentions something you specifically enjoyed about the position.

Why go to all this trouble to ensure that your temp employer thinks highly of you even as you're saying sayonara?

"It's a small world," says Tampa-based Brent Short, managing director of the professional services group at Spherion Corporation, a leading recruiting and staffing company. "You never know when you might run into the same hiring manager or human resource representative."

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