Have you decided to decline a job offer, but aren't quite sure how to do it?
Maybe you have heard the analogy about catching a bus in London. You wait a long time and no busses come. But then suddenly a few busses arrive at the same time.
That might exactly be your experience with job offers and you need to turn down at least one. Or perhaps, the job offer just isn't a good fit for you.
Deciding to reject a job offer is not a decision to take lightly.
Declining a job offer is not burning a bridge, and you don’t need to treat it that way.
In a few years, maybe an opportunity will open up at this company that lines up perfectly with your career goals and what you enjoy.
To prepare for that possibility, you will definitely want to reject all job offers by being polite and professional.
The best way to turn down a job offer is:
- Show appreciation for the opportunity.
- Say something positive about the opportunity.
- Clearly decline the job.
- Give a reason, but keep it brief.
- Leave the door open.
If you would like a sample to customize quickly, copy and paste the template below:
Dear [Recipient’s Name],
Thank you very much for offering me the opportunity to work with you at [ABC Company] as a [Job Title]. It was really great to meet you and to learn more about this role.
The role is one that is very exciting, but sadly I will have to decline your offer. Unfortunately, the position does not appear to line up with my career goals.
I wish you the very best and hope that you find the ideal candidate soon. I would be delighted to work with you in the future if another opportunity is available. I hope to see you [at conferences] in the near future.
This article will also show you ways you can turn down a job offer because of pay, because you’re accepting an alternative offer, because of the company or position itself, and when you need to decline an offer you already accepted.
Let's dive in to all the information you need to politely turn down a job offer.
The advice in this article for declining a job offer in different situations is pretty consistent across the board.
This is because you want to reject a job respectfully in any situation.
However, even if accomplishing the same thing, there is still a preferred method to professionally turn down a job offer.
Always try to decline a job offer by phone call.
You achieve the same outcome with each method, so go with the most personal way if at all possible.
However, responding to a job offer by letter or by email is still a professional way to go.
They aren’t bad methods so much as a phone call is simply preferred.
Remember these tips if you are calling an employer to decline a job offer:
- Call near lunchtime or at the end of the day so you increase your chances of catching the person you are calling at a convenient time.
- Once you reach the employer, ensure that it is a good time for the person you are calling to talk.
- If they miss your call, give your name and say you will call back, do not leave a message about not accepting the job.
- Have a list to refer to with all the key things that you want to say (use the headings below as your outline).
With that, you are ready to complete the steps below to say no to a job offer in a professional manner.
1. Show Gratitude
This article is about how to politely and professionally decline a job offer, after all.
As such, you want to show your appreciation for the offer, or for the smooth application process. There are many ways to do this, and we will give you a few examples.
A few ways to effectively show gratitude when rejecting a job offer are shown below:
“Many thanks for your amazing offer to work with you at ABC Company. I really enjoyed talking with you in-depth about the role.”
“Thank you very much for offering me the opportunity to work at ABC Company as a [Job Title]. It was amazing to speak with the team and learn about the position.”
“I very much appreciate the offer given to me and the smooth process that ABC Company carried out in the recruitment process.”
Don’t just say, “Thanks for the offer.” You’ll look like you don’t really care.
They say “less is more,” but it isn’t when you show gratitude. You want to keep the letter or conversation concise, but not abrupt.
2. Say Positive Things
Turning down a job offer doesn’t have to be all about you. In the examples above of showing gratitude, you will see that positivity is shown to the recipient.
The act of declining a job offer may be awkward for you, but it can be hard for the recipient to accept if they thought you would be a fantastic addition to the team.
You can help alleviate this by being positive about the company.
If the position was exciting or if the company is really interesting and professional, mention this without focusing on the negatives.
The employer is more likely to welcome the idea of you leaving the door open to work with them in the future.
3. Give a Reason
Giving the reason you are rejecting a job offer makes it look like you made a decision, rather than just changing your mind on a whim.
If you spent a considerable amount of time in the interviewing process, giving a reason is the professional thing to do for the employer.
But don’t go overboard.
Your reason for turning down a job offer does not need to be longer than a single sentence.
Keep it simple and clear.
If you find that you need two sentences to actually cover what the reason is, don’t panic.
Just be as concise as you can.
If you do not have a specific reason to decline the job, you can say the following:
“The position does not appear to line up with my career goals.”
Or something like:
“After interviewing and receiving more details, the job is not a good fit for me.”
That sounds a lot better than declining the job and leaving it at that.
4. Clearly Decline the Job Offer
It wouldn’t be good if you were attempting to politely turn down a job offer, but were too polite and ended up not really declining the offer.
Avoid saying things like:
“I don’t feel that it is a great fit at this time.”
“The job doesn’t really work for me right now.”
You may be trying not to be too blunt, but you actually risk being misunderstood.
Are you just not able to join immediately by saying that it doesn’t work right now?
Then they may respond and offer to defer your start date.
And then everyone is confused.
Prevent this by clearly rejecting the offer and leaving your emotions out of it. It will help everyone in the long run.
Clearly turn down a job like this:
“Unfortunately, I am going to decline your offer.”
“After much deliberation, I have decided to decline your offer.”
Just explicitly say it. Don’t force the recipient to figure out what you mean.
5. Invite Continued Contact
Inviting the company representative to continue contact with you is the easiest way that you can keep the door open when declining a job offer.
You show that you aren’t just washing your hands of the company and leaving them behind.
You show that the decision to reject the job offer was not an easy one to come to and that you would like the relationship with the company to continue.
That could be by attending the same conferences, being kept up to date on projects that interest you, networking on LinkedIn, or attending charity functions.
To stay in touch, you can say things like:
“I hope to see you at conferences in the near future.”
“I would love to continue our relationship, would you be open to communicating on LinkedIn?”
A lot of the time, you will be asking a question that invites an answer.
But stating that you hope to see them soon works too.
Be positive and optimistic throughout your letter or call.
Top Tip: If you recommend someone to the company that ends up being an ideal fit for them, they will remember and appreciate that.
You have a checklist above for what you need to do in order to politely refuse a job offer.
But also remember that there are important things that you need to avoid doing. It is important when you are trying to keep things professional that you both say the right things and refrain from saying or doing the wrong things.
If you have come to a decision, do not sit on the decision for days.
The sooner you get in touch, the better.
You may feel like you need some time to work up the courage to say no, but the longer you take, the worse it becomes.
If you take a few days thinking over your options, then let them know that you needed some time to decide, and apologize for keeping them.
2. Being Critical
Talking negatively about the company or the position is not a good idea at all.
You might wish to state that you have chosen to pursue an opportunity elsewhere, but that does not mean that you need to start bashing the recipient.
The opportunity that you are moving forward with may just fit you better professionally, or it may have a shorter commute.
You can always explain accepting a different opportunity without being critical.
3. Being Too Blunt
If you decline a job because you have a significantly better offer with better pay and a shorter commute, nothing is forcing you to say all of this.
You can simply state that you have accepted an alternative opportunity that fits your goals better.
4. Being Too Detailed
We get it. You don’t want to be vague, you want the company to understand perfectly why you have reached your decision.
But this is a rejection letter, so keep it simple.
5. Being Inaccurate
You want to avoid inaccuracies in everything you do during your job search.
If you mention the company or the job title, get the names right. If your reason for declining is relevant to the company, don’t misrepresent them.
You need to also watch out for typos or spelling errors if you decline a job offer by email or letter.
In all cases, just remember that there is a human on the other end, and they will sympathize provided that you give them a reason to.
If you start bad-mouthing the opportunity and offering blunt explanations about why you are going elsewhere, they will not sympathize at all.
Top Tip: There may be questions for you from the employer after you decline a job offer, so be ready to answer them.
We are now going to go over a few different reasons you may have for turning down a job offer and how to tailor your communication.
Use the email examples provided below or use the words in the examples to decline a job offer over the phone.
We have summarized our tips to politely turn down a job offer for you. Use these tips and the examples below to easily write your job offer rejection letter.
Regardless of your situation, there is always a way to conduct yourself in a graceful manner.
Doing so will be better for you in the long run.
So how does it look in practice?
Carry on reading to see how to decline a job offer samples.
If you are not satisfied with the salary that was offered with the job, this can be quite difficult to handle. Money is a huge motivator, but you don’t want to suggest that you are greedy.
If the salary is only one of the reasons you are not accepting the job, then focus on the other reasons when declining the position.
However, if the salary is the only reason, don’t just come out and say it.
State that the opportunity is exciting, but it does not meet your salary expectations.
Don’t ask for better compensation. Don’t compare it to another job.
The employer might choose to make a better offer, but it is not something that you should specifically request.
If you decline the job with tact, you are more likely to be offered a better salary and open the door for negotiations if necessary.
If you turn down the job unprofessionally, then they might think that they are the ones that dodged a bullet.
Top Tip: Be prepared to consider a counteroffer if they see that you are declining at the rate offered.
Remember that making it look like your decision is entirely motivated by money will not paint you in a good light.
Consequently, the email that you write should cover more than just the matter of pay.
Rejecting a Job Due To Salary Email Example:
Dear [Recipient’s Name],
Thank you very much for offering the opportunity to work with you at ABC Company. It was really great to meet you and to learn more about this role.
The role is one that is very exciting, but sadly I will have to decline. Unfortunately, your offer doesn’t meet my salary requirements for this position.
I wish you the very best and hope that you find the ideal candidate soon. I would be delighted to work with you in the future if another opportunity is available. I hope to see you at conferences in the near future.
You see that the message is broken into three sections. That will be the case across all the examples below.
First, you show gratitude, then you clearly decline the offer and give a reason, then you close with an invitation to continue the relationship.
(If the salary conversation continues, learn salary negotiation tips.)
To receive multiple job offers feels great.
Having to say “no” to someone who offered an opportunity feels less great.
But it happens.
When you are letting a company know that you are rejecting a job offer because a different opportunity that was offered to you, remember that you almost certainly aren’t the first, and almost certainly won’t be the last to do so.
If there is a clear but innocuous reason, let them know. The employer would like to avoid people declining offers in the future and can make changes to the recruitment process or job description when they are filling subsequent jobs.
Don’t say that the other position is better, just a better fit for you.
Instead of talking negatively about the recipient, show that it was a difficult decision (even if it wasn’t).
Turning Down a Job After Accepting Another Job Email Example:
Dear [Recipient’s Name],
Many thanks for your offer to work at ABC Company as a [Job]. I really enjoyed meeting some of the employees and talking more about the role with you.
Unfortunately, after much deliberation, I have to decline your offer. I have accepted a more senior role elsewhere that matches my career goals more closely.
I sincerely hope that you find the perfect candidate soon, and I wish you the best. I would love to work with you in the future. Would you be open to connecting on LinkedIn?
Some employers may respond badly regardless of how hard you try to be polite.
You are not trying to appease everyone. Any reasonable employer will know that interviewing with them is not promising to accept a position.
This can feel very awkward.
You said yes, then changed your mind, and now you're in a real predicament.
But first, you’ll want to make sure that you can actually decline the job.
If you have already signed a contract that stipulated that you cannot back out, then it is no longer up to you.
However, if you can back out, it is important that you limit the damage you cause.
To be brutally honest, the bridge will likely be burned.
As such, more than with other instances of you turning down a job offer, you want to be absolutely sure that this is what you want.
But attempt to keep the door open.
Just because the bridge is probably burned to the ground doesn’t mean that it actually is.
This is the most tricky situation of them all, as you have to go back to the employer to decline after already accepting a position.
While you can’t always control the recipient's reaction, there are better ways to limit the damage that can be caused by going back on your commitment.
Rejecting a Job Offer You Already Accepted Email Example:
Dear [Recruiter’s Name],
When I accepted the offer to work with you at ABC Company, I was delighted. I really enjoyed the interaction I had with you and your employees, and have always wanted to work with you here.
However, regretfully I am going to retract my acceptance and decline your offer. This decision was extremely difficult to come to, but the position just isn’t a good fit for me at this time.
Thank you so much for your time, and I hope that you find someone for this position very soon. I would also like to leave the door open to ABC Company, as my situation could change.
See what this email accomplishes?
You show that it is a decision that you do not like either.
You aren’t just changing your mind and running away. You also show that you still want the company to be a success.
Hopefully, you will be able to keep the relationship intact.
(If you’ve already started your new job and need to resign, refer to our Quitting a Job article.)
It might be tempting to blast the company for having values that you don’t stand for.
Perhaps during the interview, you learned more about the position and it wasn’t a good fit.
Maybe you interviewed and then learned this later.
But you should not express your grievances.
Expressing any concerns you have about the company will not help you.
Be vague about your areas of concern, if you mention them at all.
Clearly decline the job, but you can be selective on the details that you give.
Thank them for the opportunity and keep the door open. Things may change down the line.
Top Tip: If you know right away during the interview process that you do not like the company’s values or the position isn’t a good fit after all, you can always address that during your interview.
As said before, you do not need to go into detail about what you don’t like.
Maybe you interviewed just before your friend shared something that turned you off about the company.
In any case, you interviewed with the company, so make sure to remain professional throughout the entire process.
Then if things are better down the line, you wouldn’t have shot yourself in the foot.
Declining a Job Offer When You Don’t Like the Company or Position Example:
Dear [Recruiter’s Name],
I would like to thank you for your offer for me to work with you at ABC Company. It was an absolute pleasure to learn more about the team and about projects.
Sadly, I am going to decline the offer at this time. The opportunity is amazing but does not currently line up with my career goals.
I wish you the best and I hope that you bring someone in for this role soon. I would very much like to continue our communication, may I check in with you at times?
Not liking a company or the role you interviewed for is very common after an interview.
Stay as professional as you can, and it will help you in the long run.
(Read 100+ Questions to Ask in an Interview to avoid this in the future.)
We have covered everything you need to know about declining a job offer in different situations.
This article has covered the following tips about turning down a job:
- Be grateful. An employer offered you an opportunity. Even if you have to turn it down this time, they took a chance on you, and you can be grateful for that.
- Be positive. Was a part of this process interesting or exciting? Say so. It goes a long way towards keeping the door open if you are positive.
- Be clear. Decline clearly. You do not want the recipient to be confused here.
- Be concise. Give a good reason, but you do not need to go into a lot of depth. You can just say that the position wasn’t a good fit.
- Be open. Your relationship does not have to end here. Strive to keep the door open, and that may be beneficial later on.
We hope you receive many job offers! (So many that you need to use the advice above!)