Friday, November 12, 2010

How to politely back out of an offer: don't burn the foot bridges

It never fails. You send out a bushel of tapes and post your work on or medialine, and after months of hearing nothing you get multiple job offers at the same time. Or you get a call from a station that doesn't really appeal to you.

This is such a small business that you can actually burn a bridge at a place without ever working there.

I'll give you an example of something that actually happened. Reporter sends me a tape. I really like it, so I call him up. Then he tells me he really doesn't want to live in that part of the country. (Then why the hell did you send a tape here, McFly?)

I remember that guy and his condescending attitude on the phone. It was obvious he had another offer, and he could have been more polite or at least come up with a decent excuse. I'd be reluctant to hire him anywhere else.

And that's the key: News Directors move around as much as reporters and anchors. So if you're gonna turn down an offer, you need to use some tact in doing so. Because if the ND liked you once, chances are the ND will be somewhere else in the future and like you again.

So, how do you tactfully get out of a job offer, or brush off some interest? There are all sorts to ways to do this, the key being that you are polite in doing so.

-The location excuse: You're from Vermont and get a call from a station in Arizona. For whatever reason you have no desire to live in Arizona, so you might say you need to remain closer to family.

-The significant other location excuse: You would love to work in Arizona but your spouse or significant other can't deal with blistering hot weather.

-The significant other job excuse: You would love to work in Arizona but your spouse or significant other has a great job with a maple syrup company, so you need to stay close to the Northeast since there's no maple syrup being produced in Arizona.

-The better offer excuse: You're talking to another station which has made a better offer.

Get the picture? There's no rule that says you have to accept any offer. But in turning down any offer or interest, it's imperative that you keep those bridges in place, because you may want to cross them in the future.



Anonymous said...

What about accepting a job at a last place station? I'm being flown out for an interview for an EP job at a station that's been in last place for years. If I accept, will it affect me when looking for the next job after that?

-The Grape said...

Well, in the case of an on-air person, nobody cares what the ratings are at your station, only what you can do.

I worked for a last place station once that turned out terrific stuff. There are also plenty of first place stations that produce garbage.

In the case of a producer, the only place to go is up in this if you can show you helped the ratings move up, that will help you in your search.

Honestly, though, a producer is judged on the overall show and the qaulity of writing.