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Submitted by Javier on


Hi everyone,

I have searched the forums and I have not seen any topic dealing with this.

I have just been asked by the CFO of a major company (mkt cap, even in this market, above 10bnUSD) if I'm interested in joining them. We have just talked briefly on the phone. Since the new position would involved moving to another city, he was interested in knowing if there were any family issues that could be an obstacle. I told him there were none and I suggested that we meet for coffee or lunch to discuss the matter in person.

I know the company well from the outside (I have been covering them for the last two years) and I know the CFO quite well: he is very nice person, honest and hard working. The job position does not especially attract me, but the company and reporting to this person does.

I'm still thinking about it, but if I have to say no and since the CFO of the company called me directly, how can I say no in the most polite way and without sounding as if I had wasted his time?

Many thanks to all who chip in.


jhack's picture

Know what you want, know where you want your career to go, and know your path forward.

If this role isn't on that path, then you can clearly describe why it isn't. The conversation isn't about "yes" or "no" - it's about role and fit.

And maybe he'll find a role that is on your path.

And if it turns out that, upon further review, this role is actually on your path, then all is good.


bflynn's picture

I think John (as usual) is dead on. If the position isn't attractive to you, then say so. But also be sure to mention your admiration of the company and that you would be very interested in doing X for them if they perceive a need in that area. There is obvious interest both ways, it should be possible to find something mutually agreeable.

As usual, your words - I might say something like: "You know, I've been turning this over in my mind as we talked. I can't say that I find this position terribly appealing, but I am extremely impressed with you and with your organization. I don't think I would be very effective as a Widget Manager, but if you had a need around Strategic Widget Design, I'd be very interested in looking at that."

Just an example, there are probably ways to improve this.


michaelclaw's picture

I'm sure this is obvious, but I think mentioning how much you appreciate the potential opportunity is very important. It's a good way to assuage any potential hard feelings that may be felt by the CFO should you choose to turn him down.

I'd also say to be careful you aren't sold into a position that you know isn't right for you. If the CFO is calling you directly, it is highly likely that they aren't pursuing other candidates and may push hard to get you in the role.

Just a thought, good luck!


BJ_Marshall's picture
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The Get-It-Done-Guy has a podcast on this topic that I've found useful.


RobRedmond's picture

Stop worrying about wasting his time. He wants your attention, and I recommend you let him have it. Not hearing someone out on a job offer is usually a big goof. If he asks you to interview, do so. If the job is questionable, spend time looking at it. Find out what you can so that if you choose to refuse, you can state in short bullets your reason(s) for passing on this particular job.

"Dude, I think very highly of you. I would love to work for you. I would also love to work at that company. The combination is extremely tempting. It's amazing to imagine working for you at this company. I'm kind of torn, because I'm just not seeing this particular role as being on my path. I want to do X, and this job takes me toward Y. Do you have a role more like Y so that I can say yes?"

That ought to do it. You can call him by name instead of calling him "dude" if you want. ;-)

Whatever you do, don't say the word "No." Burn "No" from your vocabulary. Instead, if he says, "I don't have a position like what you are looking for right now," and you just can't stand it, then say, "I'd rather find a role doing Y." Keep saying what you want, not what you don't want.

-Rob Redmond

HMac's picture

When I read your post, it sounded to me like you're undecided. And if you're undecided, why would you say no?