By Jonathan London on 12th June 2014

Why turn down a contract offer

Sometimes there will be occasions when it’€™s in your best interests to turn down a contract or new work opportunity. Just like there are numerous factors to consider when taking a contract, there are plenty of things to think about when turning one down as well.

Time constraints

Some freelancers do take on a number of jobs and have them running alongside each other. Many people operate in this way and find that balancing the workload effectively is just another aspect of their life as an independent worker. However, there comes a point when your schedule will be full and taking on another project could actually be detrimental to your service.

It may be tempting to take on that extra bit of work for the short-term financial gains you’€™ll make, but it could have long term implications on your reputation. Taking on too much may lead to certain clients not getting everything they want out of your service. If you underperform for them it could mean you won’€™t win any further business with them in the future.


You may get offered a contract that is worth significantly less than the time you will spend completing the project. It̢۪s important that you only take a job that pays the amount your skills are worth. This is often indicated by the average market rate that is currently going for someone with your experience and expertise.

You’€™re just not interested

If you just don’€™t feel that a contract is right for you then sometimes it’€™s advisable to go with your gut instinct. One of the biggest benefits of working for yourself is that you are able to pick and choose which contracts you take on. What’€™s more, accepting something you’€™re not that keen on may cause you to miss out on an opportunity that’s much better suited to your skills. Other factors to consider here are: will the project advance your CV? Will you gain anything from taking the job on? Are you in a position financially to turn down the work?

Client expectations

If you’€™re an experienced contractor, you’€™ll know when a client is making demands that will not be feasible for you to meet. Even if you’€™re new to independent working, chances are you will have a good idea of how long a project will take to do well. A client may expect more of you than you can provide – be it in relation to time, finances or service – and if that’€™s the case then it’€™s wise to opt for another contract opportunity.


The client may want you to dedicate all of your time to this particular project. Depending on how you work, this could be tricky. If you generally take on one project at a time this may be feasible but if you rely on multiple contracts running in accordance with each other, it could be a problem.

In this instance, it’€™s wise to see what the client is willing to offer. If they are offering you suitable payment for your time then it could be worth it. However, if this is not the case, then you should probably look elsewhere.

If you make the decision to turn down a contract, itժs vital that you do so in a professional way that allows the prospective client to save face. Remember, you never know what̢۪s around the corner and they could end up having the perfect project for you at some point in the future.

Need a refresher on contract etiquette?  Check out our next article on the topic!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Jonathan London Written by Jonathan London

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