How to Decline a Job Offer Professionally

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Sending a professional, well-written note or email when you decide to decline a job offer is an important professional courtesy. Even if you have considered an opportunity and decided not to accept it, it is still important to maintain professional ties with the company and hiring manager. This will help you maintain a positive professional reputation in your community, and could mean that you can still pursue opportunities at the company in the future. In this article, you can learn how to decline a job offer professionally and review a sample letter.

Why might you decline a job offer?

There are several reasons you may want to decline an offer after applying and interviewing for a job:

  • You have accepted another offer. If you are lucky enough to interview for multiple jobs at once, you may find yourself in the position of accepting one offer while having to decline others.
  • Not the right fit. You learn more about a particular role, as well as the company culture and team that you will be working with, during the interview process. As you move ahead with the interview process, you may realize that the job or the company is actually not the right fit for you.
  • Salary offer came in too low. After you receive a job offer, you may find that the salary offer is too low for your needs and experience. While you may negotiate with the hiring manager after receiving an offer, the salary may still not meet your expectations.

How to decline a job offer

You can follow these steps to decline a job offer:

1. First, consider all factors before making your final decision

Make sure you are confident in your decision before declining an offer. If you might accept the job under certain conditions, for example, with a salary increase or more vacation days, it is worth making a counteroffer and trying to negotiate first. Once you send a rejection message, the hiring manager will likely move on to the next applicant in the pipeline, and you are unlikely to receive another offer for the same position.

2. Next, understand that declining an offer does not mean you have failed

Once you are absolutely sure about your decision, do not spend more time worrying about it. It is perfectly normal and routine for candidates to turn down a job offer, and while the hiring manager may be disappointed that you are not going to work for them after all, you have not mislead the employer about your intentions or behaved in any way inappropriately simply by declining an offer.

3. Then, tell the hiring manager your decision as soon as possible

Once you have made a decision to decline a job offer, do not wait to notify the hiring manager. Letting the company know your decision as soon as possible will help them move forward with another candidate in a timely manner and avoid causing them inconvenience.

4. Next, give a reason (but not a very specific one)

It is helpful to offer an easily explainable reason in a sentence or two. The reason should not be too negative, and you do not need to go into a lot of detail. However, you will be more likely to preserve the relationship if you can offer a reasonable explanation for turning down the job offer.

For example, if the salary they offer is not adequate, you can say something like, ‘Thank you so much for considering me, but after a great deal of thought, I have decided to decline. I think we are too far apart on salary since I would need a higher wage to leave my current position.’ If you have accepted another job, you can simply say, ‘I have decided to accept a position with another company.’

5. Then, keep your message simple and direct

You do not need to offer over-the-top compliments for the company or people you met during the hiring process, or explain in great detail why you are rejecting the offer. Instead, say what needs to be said as simply, directly and respectfully as possible. 

6. Last, thank the hiring manager for their time

At the end of your message, thank the hiring manager (and anyone else you interacted with during the application process) for their time. If you liked the company or the team and think you could be interested in working with them in the future, you could note that as well. For example, you could write something like, ‘I appreciate the time you and the team spent talking with me about the role. I am really impressed by the work that the company is doing, and I hope to find a way to be part of your work at some point down the road, even though the timing did not work out right now.’

Overall, maintain a tone of frankness but gratitude, letting the hiring manager and the team know that you appreciate the time and effort they put into the hiring process.

Example message for declining a job offer

Here is an example to help begin crafting your own message for declining a job offer:

Email Subject: Job Offer – Amanda Smith

Dear Ms. Jones,

Thank you for offering me the position of Sales Associate with the Regency Company, LLC. After a great deal of reflection, I have decided to accept a position with another company.

I enjoyed speaking with you, and I appreciate the time you took to share information about this opportunity. I admire the work that your team is doing, and I hope to find a way to be involved in your work in the future, even though the timing did not work out this time.

Again, thank you for your consideration.

Amanda Smith