How to decline a job offer gracefully (with email examples)

Turn Down an Opportunity Without Burning Bridges

How to decline a job offer gracefully (with email examples)

Theresa Chiechi / The Balance

What’s the best way to decline a job offer? How should you turn down a job if you don’t want to take it? It always makes sense to be polite when you reject a job offer, even when the offer didn’t come close to what you were expecting.

There are times when you should turn down a job offer, but what you say or write when you decline depends on your reasons for rejecting it.

If the job wasn’t a good fit, for example, but you liked the company, state in your email or phone call that you were impressed with the organization but didn’t view the job as a good fit for you.

Your response might include a mention of the key skill sets that you would like to employ, the level of responsibility toward which you wish to aspire, or other elements of the prospective job that were missing.

For example, if the target job involved only inside sales, point out that you were interested in a position handling major accounts providing a clear pathway to sales management; the possible upside being that the employer thinks of you for another role currently available or one that might open up in the future.

Tips for Turning Down a Job Offer

Before sending a declination of offer letter, make sure you are positive you do not want the job. If a scenario exists wherein you might take the job (such as a pay increase or other changes in the benefits package), first try to negotiate a counter offer. Once you send a rejection letter, there is almost no chance you will be offered the job again.

However, if you’ve considered the opportunity well and have decided not to accept it, sending a polite, grateful, and timely job rejection letter is ​a terrific way to maintain a good relationship with the employer.

You never know when, if or how your paths might cross again, so it’s always a good show of professionalism to exhibit gratitude and timeliness.

When You Don’t Like the Company

If the company is unappealing because of its culture, a prospective supervisor, or its products or services, “thanks for the opportunity” with a simple reference to the job not being a great fit at this point in your career is sufficient.

Candidates are generally better off not expressing specific dissatisfaction with the staff with whom they interacted or sharing any criticisms of the organization.

When the Job Doesn’t Pay Enough

If a job and organization are attractive but the offered salary is insufficient, you might address this issue in your communications. If all efforts to negotiate a higher salary fail to yield the results you require, send a communication expressing your thanks and reaffirming your excitement about the position, stating that you must decline due to the level of the salary.

Sometimes an employer will come back to you with a better offer once they see that you are truly willing to walk. Be prepared to discuss a counter offer, if a higher salary would make a difference.

What to Include in a Job Rejection Letter

Your letter should include the following:

  • Expression of appreciation for the offer
  • Written rejection of the offer

Address the letter to the person who offered you the position. Include your contact information and phone number, even though it is on file with the employer.

There’s no need to give extensive details as to why you’re declining the job. Do not include any potentially offensive reasons, such as a poor work environment or feeling uncertain about the company’s long-term future and profitability.

However, it is appropriate to briefly mention a reason for turning the job down. For example, you might explain that you accepted another offer, decided it was best to stay at your current job, or felt that the position didn’t ultimately match your career goals. Whatever the case, keep your explanation brief.

As with any communication sent to an employer, it’s important to make sure that your letter is well written and does not contain typos or grammatical errors.

Even in declining a position, all correspondence should be professional.

Sample Letters Declining a Job Offer

Review the following sample job rejection letters and use them as templates for your own letter.

Job Rejection Letter Example #1

Contact Name
Street Address
City, State Zip Code

Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name,

Thank you very much for offering me the position of Marketing Manager with Hatfield Industries. It was a difficult decision to make, but I have accepted a position with another company.

I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to interview me and to share information on the opportunity and your company.

Again, thank you for your consideration.

Signature (hard copy letter)

Job Rejection Letter Example #2

Contact Name
Street Address
City, State Zip Code

Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name,

Thank you very much for offering me the opportunity to work at Bronson Associates. Unfortunately, I will not be accepting the position as it does not fit the path I am taking to achieve my career goals.

Once again, I’d like to express my gratitude for the offer and my regrets that it didn’t work out. You have my best wishes in finding someone suitable for the position.

Signature (hard copy letter)

Job Rejection Email Example

Job Rejection Email Example

Subject: Your Name – Unit Coordinator Position

Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name,

Thank you for offering me the position of Unit Coordinator at Acme Enterprises and for reviewing my counteroffer with management. I fully understand that budgets are tight, but must regretfully decline the position at the current compensation.

Once again, I want to thank you so much for your graciousness during the negotiation process. I wish you and Acme all the best.

Sometimes a job offer isn’t a good fit, even though you applied for the role hoping it would be. Or, perhaps, you’re in the position of being offered two opportunities at once. It’s never easy, but sometimes declining a job offer is necessary. In this article, we offer guidelines on how to politely turn down a job offer and sample emails that you can customize based on your situation.

How to turn down a job offer

Here are some recommended steps for turning down a job offer:

1. Don’t procrastinate

Once you’ve decided to decline the offer, don’t delay writing to the employer. Letting the company know in a timely manner will help them move forward more quickly in their own process.

2. Keep it simple and to the point

Start by being straightforward and honest in your message. Don’t go overboard with excessive compliments about the company or the people you’ve interacted with—it’s a rejection letter after all. Say what needs to be said as respectfully as you can and avoid being overly emotional.

3. Say “thank you”

Thank the hiring manager for their time. Above all, maintain a tone of gratitude as you write the letter, letting the recruiter and hiring manager know that you appreciate their time and effort.

4. Provide a reason but don’t get specific

Your reasons for not accepting the offer could be as simple as the company didn’t offer you the compensation you were seeking. Perhaps you weren’t sure you’d work well with the hiring manager, or maybe you weren’t excited about the company. While these are all justifiable reasons to decline a job offer, you should not include them in your rejection letter. It is sufficient to say that you’ve accepted a job offer elsewhere or simply that this job offer isn’t the right fit.

5. Consider offering to stay in touch

If you felt a warm connection with the hiring manager but the role wasn’t a good fit for other reasons, consider offering to stay in touch and provide additional contact information. Don’t feel obligated to provide this information, but some people might see this opportunity as a way to build their professional network.

Email example for when you have accepted another job

If you’ve accepted another position, here is an example to help you craft your own email to turn down a job offer:

Subject line: Job offer – [ Your name ]

Dear Mr./Ms. [ insert last name of hiring manager ] ,

Thank you very much for offering me the role of [ insert name of position ] with [ insert company name ] . Though it was a difficult decision, I have accepted a position with another company.

I sincerely enjoyed our conversations and very much appreciate your taking time to interview me over the course of the past few weeks.

Again, thank you for your time and consideration; best wishes in your continued success, and I hope our paths cross again in the future.

Email example for when the job is not a good fit

Though it’s typically a good idea to provide a reason, you might not always have one, or you might not care to provide. Here’s a second example that will help you decline the job offer politely without specific details:

Subject line: Job offer – [ Your name ]

Dear Mr./Ms. [ insert last name of hiring manager ] ,

Thank you very much for offering me the role of [ insert name of position ] . However, I have decided that this is not the right fit for my career goals at this time.

I sincerely enjoyed our dialog as well as discussions with your team, and I very much appreciate your taking time to share information about the role and vision of [ insert company name ] .

Again, thank you for your time and consideration; best wishes in your continued success.

Tips for turning down a job offer

Be sure you’re making a well-considered decision. Once you have declined the job, there is close to zero chance you’ll be offered the position again. This is not the time to attempt to negotiate a better deal.

Finally, don’t be afraid to reject the job offer if it simply isn’t the right fit. Turning down a job offer can be both a difficult and delicate task, but when done well, it will enable you to move on to the right job and keep your professional network intact.

You completed a job search, applied for the job, had the interview and were offered a position. You accepted it but now, have decided that it is not the best option for you. What do you do? In this article, we discuss things to consider when declining an accepted job offer, how to do it gracefully and professionally and also provide a declined job letter template and sample to help you write your own.

Making the decision to reject a job offer

Searching for a new job can be an exciting process, especially when you receive the offer of a job for a company that you had a successful interview with. You may have immediately accepted the offer because you were delighted at the possibility of working with them, but your circumstances changed, another job offer arrived in the mail or after thinking it through, you decided that the job was not the best fit. It happens. This said, if you’ve changed your mind, you need to contact the employer as quickly as possible and with the right etiquette.

Guide to writing a job offer rejection

Understanding the process of declining an accepted job offer can help you feel more confident. Here are the steps you should follow to write a letter rejecting a job offer you have already accepted:

1. Be certain about your decision to reject the job offer

You should take your time to consider your decision. You must make sure that you are absolutely certain that you do not want the job. It may be useful to write a list of the advantages and disadvantages of rejecting the job that you have already accepted before reaching out to the employer.

2. Check your contract

You may have progressed to the stage of signing an employment contract with your employer. If this is the case, you must read your contract thoroughly to find out what terms and conditions are listed with regards to terminating your employment. You may find that there is a time frame that allows you to reject the offer of employment.

3. Act quickly

While you should consider your position carefully and take the time to read your contract, it’s important that you act as quickly as possible once you have made the decision to reject the job offer. Your employer will appreciate you notifying them promptly and will be more likely to respect your decision. They will likely need to find a replacement for the position that you accepted and may be able to offer the job to another candidate that was interviewed.

4. Think about alternatives

Consider what you might be willing to accept as an alternative to rejecting the job offer. Ask yourself if there is anything that the employer could offer you that may make you reconsider working with them. Think carefully about these possibilities before you contact the company. If you think a higher salary, fewer hours or different responsibilities will make you reconsider declining the offer, consider renegotiating the terms of your employment. If you think the job would require too much of a time commitment due to a long commute, consider asking about the possibility to work remotely. Or, if you decided that you are unable to work full time because you want to go back to school, see if they’ll work with your schedule.

If your decision is based on personal circumstances, consider asking the employer if they can give you extra time to make a decision. Your situation could change and allow you to accept the offer.

5. Use a straightforward and honest approach

You should always be honest with the employer about your reasons for declining an accepted job offer, but use tact and avoid insulting the company. Keep a positive, professional tone and be concise.

6. Show gratitude

It is important to thank your employer for the opportunity that they have offered you. Let them know that you enjoyed meeting them during the interview and that you were impressed with the company. Focus on the positive experiences you had with them and the things that you liked about them. You may want to work with this employer in the future or find your interviewer working with a different company that you interview with so always remain positive and grateful.

7. Pick up the phone

While you may be nervous to phone or meet with your employer to deliver the job rejection to them, there are advantages to doing so. Calling the employer first is professional, personal and gives you the opportunity to explain your circumstances before sending the letter. This can improve your chances of preserving a positive relationship with them. Once you have had this conversation, you can send an official letter or email declining the offer.

8. Learn from the experience

After you have declined the job offer, take steps to learn from this experience and try to prevent it from happening again in the future. Before accepting another job, consider the offer carefully and ask for a longer period of time to decide if you need to.

Template

Here is a template you can modify for your own use to decline a job offer that you have already accepted:

[ Your Name ]
[ Your Address ]
[ Your City, State and Zip Code ]
[ Your Phone Number ]
[ Your Email ]

[ Hiring Manager or Recruiter’s Name ]
[ Company Name ]
[ Company City, State and Zip Code ]

Dear [ Name of Hiring Manager ] ,

Thank you so much for the offer for the position of [ Job Title ] to join [ Name of Company ] .

I am very grateful for the time you have spent considering me and for offering me the opportunity to work with you and the team. I was impressed with [ Name of Company ] and can see why you have been so successful.

Unfortunately, after careful consideration, I have decided that I must decline your offer. My circumstances mean I am now unable to join you at [ Name of Company ] . [ Offer a brief, honest description of the reasons you are unable to accept the role. ]

I thank you for the opportunity and wish [ Name of Company ] continued success.

Example

Here is an example of a letter declining an accepted job offer using the template above:

Robin Leigh
206 North Street
New York, NY 10055
(555) 436-2221
[email protected]

Jo Ellal
Brogan Accounting

100 Down Avenue
New York, NY 10031

Thank you so much for the offer for the position of Accounting Trainee to join Brogan Accounting.

I am very grateful for the time you have spent considering me and for offering me the opportunity to work with you and the team. I was impressed with Brogan Accounting and can see why you have been so successful.

Unfortunately, after careful consideration, I have decided that I must decline your offer. My circumstances mean I am now unable to join you at Brogan Accounting. My mother has become unwell and I must return to Europe to help care for her. I plan on leaving the USA in the next few days and will likely be away for six months.

I thank you for the opportunity and wish Brogan Accounting continued success.

It’s finally that moment.

You went through a lengthy process of job-search.

You finally aced all the complicated interview questions.

And you finally landed the job! Congratulations!

You’re not just done yet, though. There’s one tiny struggle that comes with accepting an offer:

Declining the other ones.

Those recruiters that you told you’d love to work for their company? Yeah… now you have to let them know that given the opportunity, you won’t be working for their company. Not fun, right?

The good news is that there’s a way to gracefully and politely reject an offer.

And in this guide, we’re going to teach you how, exactly, you can do that in 3 easy steps! 3 reusable email templates included.

How to Decline a Job Offer in 3 Steps

Everybody can say “no”, but not everybody knows how to be professional about it.

If you go at it the wrong way, chances are you’re getting on that recruiter’s “blacklist”, or at least unpleasant-people-that-i-would-rather-not-work-with list.

Fast forward a few years and what do you know, you cross paths with them again.

Why risk being on bad terms when you can avoid it?

Here’s what steps you should follow in order to turn down a job offer without burning any bridges.

Step #0 – Don’t Procrastinate

Weighing your options and deciding whether you should accept or decline an offer takes time. That’s understandable. However, as soon as you have your mind made up, you should let the company know.

Your decline means they have to reconsider the other applicants, offer the position to somebody else and give them time to think about it as well.

The more you procrastinate on sending out your answer, the more time their hiring process takes. And it’s no secret that time is money.

Step #1 – Show Your Appreciation

When declining a job offer, a “Thank you” is very much in order.

Before you break the news, start off by expressing your gratitude for the offer and letting the hiring manager know that you appreciate their time and consideration.

Correct Example:

Dear Ms. Lilabeth,

Thank you for reaching out to me with the good news! I appreciate your offer a lot.

However, due to some recent changes in my personal life, I will have to decline the position.

I thank you once again for your time and consideration and hope you will soon find the perfect candidate for the position.

Step #2 – Give Your Reasoning

Was it an insufficient salary? Did you receive a better offer? The position doesn’t quite match your career goals anymore?

You didn’t like the branch manager? The staff? The company turned out to be a little shady?

Do NOT let them know.

Why? You simply don’t need to. You risk sounding snobby and as we mentioned above, it’s better to not ruin any relationships.

It’s only fair to give an explanation as to why you decided to decline the job offer, but you should keep it brief and short of details.

Pro Tip:

If your reasons for declining are things your employer would rather not hear, you can explain your decision with a simple “The position doesn’t quite fit my career goals.”

Here’s what your answer should and shouldn’t sound like:

Correct Example:

Dear Ms. Lilabeth,

I want to thank you for your job offer. I really appreciate it.

However, I regret to inform you that I cannot accept it. My career goals at the moment are not very compatible with this position.

I wish you the best and hope we cross paths again.

Incorrect Example:

Dear Ms. Lilabeth,

Thank you for your job offer. Unfortunately, I will have to decline.

I got in touch with one of your employees and was not very convinced by what I heard about the branch’s manager. I am not a fan of authoritative management.

I wish you good luck in finding the right employee.

Step #3 – Offer to Stay in Touch

Not accepting a position doesn’t necessarily mean you have to cut ties with the recruiter completely.

Who knows, your paths might cross somewhere else or you might apply for another position in the same company.

In any case, it’s good to end the discussion on a good note and leave room for reconnecting in the future.

Turning Down a Job Offers – 3 Examples You Can Use

Depending on the method of communication you previously had with the recruiter, you can decline an offer through a phone call, email, or even letter.

99% of the cases, though, it’s going to be done through email.

Here are 3 email templates for declining a job offer you can reuse

Email Template #1 – Accepting a Better Offer

Dear Ms. Lilabeth,

I want to thank you for offering me the position of administrative assistant in your company.

Unfortunately, I will have to decline the offer. After long consideration, I decided to accept another position that is more compatible with my master’s studies plan.

I’d like to thank you again for the time and consideration and I hope our paths cross again. Your company still remains one of the places I’d love to work for in the future.

Email Template #2 – Different Career Goals

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to work as a software engineer at your company.

Sadly, I will have to decline. I believe the position does not fit my career goals at this time.

Once again, thank you for the offer and consideration. I wish you all the best.

Email Template #3 – Insufficient Salary

I greatly appreciate your offer for the sales manager position. I enjoyed learning about your company and meeting your staff last week.

However, I regret to let you know that I will be declining the offer. I fully understand that as a new business your budget is tight and cannot meet the compensation I am looking for.

I wish you the best in finding the right sales manager and I hope we cross paths in the future again.

Key Takeaways

Saying “thanks, but no thanks” to a job offer is no fun, but it’s part of the job-search process and has to be done.

What’s important is to maintain the same level of professionalism from the beginning of the process to the end.

To do that, when turning down an offer, you should:

  • Avoid procrastinating. Your decline sets off a chain reaction of events at the company to find another candidate. If you know your answer, don’t drag on their search and let them know ASAP.
  • Show your appreciation. Saying the “thank you” magic word never hurt anybody. In this case, it shows gratitude for the offer and appreciation for the recruiter’s time and effort.
  • Give a brief explanation. No details, no drama. A one-sentence reasoning will do.
  • Offer to stay in touch. In such a small world, it’s no surprise for your paths to cross again, so end your email on a good note and leave room for reconnecting.

How to decline a job offer gracefully (with email examples)

Have you received a job offer and decided not to take the position? When you decide to reject a job offer, it’s a good idea to let the employer know that you’re declining as soon as possible.

Nowadays, many employers are relaying job offers via email. As such, it’s perfectly appropriate to respond to the offer over email, even if you have decided not to accept the job. It is possible to be brief and to the point over email while remaining cordial and polite.

A professional email will help you maintain a positive relationship with the employer.

It’s important to stay on good terms. You never know when you might want to apply for another job at the company.

Tips for Sending a Job Offer Rejection Email

  • Send your email ASAP. One of the benefits of sending professional correspondence via email is speed. Therefore, when rejecting a job offer via email, you should send the email as soon as you have decided that you are not going to accept the job offer. This is considerate, as it gives the employer time to move forward with alternative candidates.
  • Be brief. You do not need to say much in your email. Your message should be polite, brief, and to the point. It’s important to keep it professional, positive, light, and respectful.
  • Be courteous. There is no need to share what you did not like about the job offer, the job, the boss, the company, or any other negative criticisms. Keep those thoughts to yourself as you might unexpectedly find yourself crossing paths with this employer at some point in the future.

There may be other positions or open roles with the same employer that are a better fit, and you will not be considered for them if you send a negative message saying why you decided not to accept the job.

  • Use sample emails as a guide. When writing a job rejection email message, you can use sample messages for inspiration. Be sure to tailor your message to reflect your personal and professional circumstances.
  • Proofread, edit, and test your message before sending. Make sure your message is perfect before emailing it to the hiring manager. Send yourself a test message to make sure that your email is correct and formatted appropriately.

What to Include in the Email Message

  • A subject line with your full name listed and a reference to the job offered (e.g., “Job Offer – Your Name”)
  • A professional greeting
  • Your thanks and appreciation for the offer
  • State the fact that you have chosen to decline the offer
  • A signature with your contact information

Declining a Job Offer Email Message Examples

Review sample email messages, with and without a reason for turning down the position, sent to decline a job offer.

Rejection Email Without a Reason Example

Subject Line: Job Offer – Ted Gonzalez

Thank you very much for offering me the opportunity to work at Owen & Owen, LLC. I appreciate the time you spent meeting with me to discuss the job.

It was a difficult decision, but I will not be accepting the position.

I would, again, like to express my gratitude for the offer and my regrets that it did not work out. You have my best wishes in finding a suitable candidate for the position. I wish you and the company well in all future endeavors.

Rejection Email With a Reason Examples

Rejection Email Message With a Reason #1

Subject Line: Jane Smith – Job Offer

Thank you very much for offering me the position of Training Coordinator with Apple Tree Learning. I appreciate the offer and your interest in hiring me.

Unfortunately, I have accepted a position with another company that is a good match for my current professional goals.

Again, I do appreciate both the offer of employment and your consideration. Thank you for such a pleasant interviewing experience.

Rejection Email Message With a Reason #2

Subject Line: Roger Clay – HR Specialist Job Offer

Dear Mr. Peterson,

Thank you so much for sending along this offer letter regarding the HR Specialist role for which I recently interviewed. I sincerely appreciate you extending the offer and your interest in hiring me.

As you may remember from our last conversation, I was just accepted into a graduate degree program, and have since decided to move forward with my education this coming fall. Because of this, I am sorry to say that I will have to decline your generous offer.

I want to reiterate that I truly appreciate the offer, and regret that I will not be able to join the company at this time. Thank you again for your time.

Key Takeaways

Send Your Job Offer Rejection via Email: Because so much professional correspondence takes place over email, it’s appropriate to send your rejection letter electronically.

Be Courteous and Respectful: Send your email promptly and be sure to thank the employer for their time and offer. Do not share any criticisms of the interviewer or organization.

Don’t Provide Too Much Detail: There’s no need to go into a great deal of information about your decision.

Isaac Newton said, ‘Tact is the art of making a point, without making an enemy.’ This is appropriate to keep in mind when you are considering how to decline a job due to salary disputes. Any financial discussion needs diplomacy and tact.

While the offered salary may not be what you think you deserve, you shouldn’t sever a relationship that, in the future, could be prosperous.

It is important to know your worth and professionally, that means, you know what you are worth monetarily. Do not shy away from declining a position because the pay is to low.

Instead, when you consider how to decline a job offer due to salary consider whether the position may suit you in the future, if money isn’t a concern.

Dos and Don’ts When Writing an Email to Decline a Job Offer

01 Ensure that rejecting the job offer is the best thing for you.

You need to deeply evaluate the job offer, decided whether the salary is something you can compromise on, if the position is worth it to your career.

02 Maintain a formal approach

Not knowing how to decline a job offer due to salary can result leave you wondering how professional or in depth you should be. Keep things professional and to the point.

Do not become informal, simply because you don’t want to work for them. It could come across as arrogant.

03 Do not make hasty decisions.

Request time to thoroughly think things through. Hasty decisions are more prone to fault. This also affects your general composure and the way you manage things in the end. Take your time, because then you will make sure you decline the job for the right reasons.

04 Be truthful

You should always keep your integrity and be truthful in rejecting a job. However, this does not mean you have to go into detail, keep it short.

Be gracious at the offer, but also be firm in why you have declined the job: you believe you are worth more.

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05 Keep your bridges

As we have said earlier, you need to keep your bridges intact. You need to keep the relationship open to future prospects for doing business. While you have chosen not to work for them now, later if you – or they – transfer you may be. They could be a client at some point.

Most importantly, keep the matter confidential. If you speak about it with people, say it was a positive opportunity to interview within your career, but that, ultimately, you enjoy your current job enough to remain until you get a higher salary.

Rejecting a job because of pay needs tact; you need to exercise professionalism, but also, self-preservation. Making a job change is a big deal, and your financial happiness will be one of the first determinants of your success.

How to Decline a Job Offer to HR Manager Directly

01 Dear [Name of HR Manager],

I sincerely appreciate the job offer. Though it was not an easy decision to make, I have accepted another position from a different company.

I would like to be honest, the decision came down to salary and the company I have chosen to work for offered substantially more, for the same duties.

The opportunity to interview with you is one I am sincerely grateful for and hope that you do not see my decision as selfish. Your company has an incredible reputation and I hope, once I have paid off my debt, I will have the opportunity to meet with you again.

I wish you all the best and sincerely hope our paths cross again in the future.

It’s finally that moment.

You went through a lengthy process of job-search.

You finally aced all the complicated interview questions.

And you finally landed the job! Congratulations!

You’re not just done yet, though. There’s one tiny struggle that comes with accepting an offer:

Declining the other ones.

Those recruiters that you told you’d love to work for their company? Yeah… now you have to let them know that given the opportunity, you won’t be working for their company. Not fun, right?

The good news is that there’s a way to gracefully and politely reject an offer.

And in this guide, we’re going to teach you how, exactly, you can do that in 3 easy steps! 3 reusable email templates included.

How to Decline a Job Offer in 3 Steps

Everybody can say “no”, but not everybody knows how to be professional about it.

If you go at it the wrong way, chances are you’re getting on that recruiter’s “blacklist”, or at least unpleasant-people-that-i-would-rather-not-work-with list.

Fast forward a few years and what do you know, you cross paths with them again.

Why risk being on bad terms when you can avoid it?

Here’s what steps you should follow in order to turn down a job offer without burning any bridges.

Step #0 – Don’t Procrastinate

Weighing your options and deciding whether you should accept or decline an offer takes time. That’s understandable. However, as soon as you have your mind made up, you should let the company know.

Your decline means they have to reconsider the other applicants, offer the position to somebody else and give them time to think about it as well.

The more you procrastinate on sending out your answer, the more time their hiring process takes. And it’s no secret that time is money.

Step #1 – Show Your Appreciation

When declining a job offer, a “Thank you” is very much in order.

Before you break the news, start off by expressing your gratitude for the offer and letting the hiring manager know that you appreciate their time and consideration.

Correct Example:

Dear Ms. Lilabeth,

Thank you for reaching out to me with the good news! I appreciate your offer a lot.

However, due to some recent changes in my personal life, I will have to decline the position.

I thank you once again for your time and consideration and hope you will soon find the perfect candidate for the position.

Step #2 – Give Your Reasoning

Was it an insufficient salary? Did you receive a better offer? The position doesn’t quite match your career goals anymore?

You didn’t like the branch manager? The staff? The company turned out to be a little shady?

Do NOT let them know.

Why? You simply don’t need to. You risk sounding snobby and as we mentioned above, it’s better to not ruin any relationships.

It’s only fair to give an explanation as to why you decided to decline the job offer, but you should keep it brief and short of details.

Pro Tip:

If your reasons for declining are things your employer would rather not hear, you can explain your decision with a simple “The position doesn’t quite fit my career goals.”

Here’s what your answer should and shouldn’t sound like:

Correct Example:

Dear Ms. Lilabeth,

I want to thank you for your job offer. I really appreciate it.

However, I regret to inform you that I cannot accept it. My career goals at the moment are not very compatible with this position.

I wish you the best and hope we cross paths again.

Incorrect Example:

Dear Ms. Lilabeth,

Thank you for your job offer. Unfortunately, I will have to decline.

I got in touch with one of your employees and was not very convinced by what I heard about the branch’s manager. I am not a fan of authoritative management.

I wish you good luck in finding the right employee.

Step #3 – Offer to Stay in Touch

Not accepting a position doesn’t necessarily mean you have to cut ties with the recruiter completely.

Who knows, your paths might cross somewhere else or you might apply for another position in the same company.

In any case, it’s good to end the discussion on a good note and leave room for reconnecting in the future.

Turning Down a Job Offers – 3 Examples You Can Use

Depending on the method of communication you previously had with the recruiter, you can decline an offer through a phone call, email, or even letter.

99% of the cases, though, it’s going to be done through email.

Here are 3 email templates for declining a job offer you can reuse

Email Template #1 – Accepting a Better Offer

Dear Ms. Lilabeth,

I want to thank you for offering me the position of administrative assistant in your company.

Unfortunately, I will have to decline the offer. After long consideration, I decided to accept another position that is more compatible with my master’s studies plan.

I’d like to thank you again for the time and consideration and I hope our paths cross again. Your company still remains one of the places I’d love to work for in the future.

Email Template #2 – Different Career Goals

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to work as a software engineer at your company.

Sadly, I will have to decline. I believe the position does not fit my career goals at this time.

Once again, thank you for the offer and consideration. I wish you all the best.

Email Template #3 – Insufficient Salary

I greatly appreciate your offer for the sales manager position. I enjoyed learning about your company and meeting your staff last week.

However, I regret to let you know that I will be declining the offer. I fully understand that as a new business your budget is tight and cannot meet the compensation I am looking for.

I wish you the best in finding the right sales manager and I hope we cross paths in the future again.

Key Takeaways

Saying “thanks, but no thanks” to a job offer is no fun, but it’s part of the job-search process and has to be done.

What’s important is to maintain the same level of professionalism from the beginning of the process to the end.

To do that, when turning down an offer, you should:

  • Avoid procrastinating. Your decline sets off a chain reaction of events at the company to find another candidate. If you know your answer, don’t drag on their search and let them know ASAP.
  • Show your appreciation. Saying the “thank you” magic word never hurt anybody. In this case, it shows gratitude for the offer and appreciation for the recruiter’s time and effort.
  • Give a brief explanation. No details, no drama. A one-sentence reasoning will do.
  • Offer to stay in touch. In such a small world, it’s no surprise for your paths to cross again, so end your email on a good note and leave room for reconnecting.

How to decline a job offer gracefully (with email examples)

A lot of companies request job applications via online portals or email. Hence, your invitation for a job interview and subsequent job offer would likely have come via email. Therefore, it is fair that when declining the job offer, that you use email also. There are certain things that you would need to keep in focus when declining a job offer for personal reasons via email. We will elucidate these factors and give tips on how to write an appropriate email.

Points to Consider before Declining a Job Offer

Why are You Declining the Job Offer?

It is important you are clear about your reason(s) for declining a job offer before sending the email. This is particularly important when you are in a difficult economy or if the type of job you are seeking for is scarce. As a professional and a responsible person, ensure your reason(s) can be explained in simple words without appearing to be unprofessional or downright lazy.

Are Your Reasons for Declining the Job Offer Genuine?

It is one thing to have a reason for declining a job offer, it is another thing for the reason to be genuine and objective. What does this mean? Since our focus is on personal reasons (other than another job offer), it means that you should be able to convince anyone that taking up the offer will bring a form of harm to you or your family. By “harm” here, we mean physical, psychological, social or any other form of harm. It could also be that a personal or family emergency came up, hampering your ability to take up the offer.

Are there Potential Professional Consequences for Your Action?

You should be able to determine if declining a job offer in your career or professional has any consequences. Of course, no one will force you to take up a job. However, some individuals or companies may take it personally and probably use it against you in the future, one way or the other. Therefore it is important you are aware of any potential consequences.

Do the Benefits of Declining the Offer Outweigh the Potential Professional Consequences?

After being sure of your reason(s) for declining a job offer, ascertaining its genuineness and noting the potential consequences, you would need to do an important comparison. It is important to compare the benefits of declining the offer with the possible negative outcome of the decision. It is recommended that this is done objectively. If after this you still choose to decline the offer, then go ahead and write that email.

The Importance of Communicating Your Decision

It is polite to inform the company whose job offer you are declining of the choice you have made. It is unprofessional to decide not to show up for work and remain silent about your decision. By sending an email to the company that you are declining their job offer, you would enable them to quickly search for a replacement. Hence, your decision will not affect the company’s productivity.

When declining a job offer for personal reasons via email, you are actually doing yourself a favor by contacting the company. Your professional reputation would be damaged and you may completely block your chance for working in that organization in the future if you do not. Your decision to professionally decline a job offer via email with genuine personal reasons can help ensure that your professional standing is maintained.

Declining a Job Offer for Personal Reasons: Email Writing Tips

Formal Style

The entire email, from the subject line to the signature, should be written in a formal style. It is a professional (formal) email and hence it should be written as one.

Subject Line

When declining a job offer for personal reasons via email, use a simple, clear and formal subject line. The subject line should also be properly edited and well formatted. It should be written: Job Offer Decline/Position being Offered. For example, Job Offer Decline/Operations Manager.

Opening Greeting

As noted earlier, this should be formal. For example, you can write “Dear Human Resources Manager” or “Dear Sir or Madam”. It is best, however, to specifically address the person who sent the job offer email to you.

Saying Thanks

Genuinely thank the company for the job offer. When declining a job offer, showing your gratitude means a lot to the company offering you the job. For one, they will not likely feel insulted by your action. It will also help to make your reason(s) more acceptable to them. Finally, it is just good manners to say thank you.

Apologizing Honestly

When declining a job offer for personal reasons via email, you must apologize without holding back. You should bear in mind that most people accept their job offers. That means that the company will not be expecting your email. Hence, they will receive the response with some surprise and would have to make arrangement for another person. This will likely disrupt the company’s schedule or goals. Besides, you need to ensure that they are not offended by your decision.

Giving Reasons

Present your reasons as logically and as clearly as possible. Also, make sure that you keep it brief. Since your reason(s) is (are) personal, you are not obligated to disclose so much detail. It is necessary, however, to present a picture that will show that your decision is the appropriate one for you and/or your family.

Proper Closing

Your closing remark should be that of wishing the company well. Just preceding this, you should express your regrets again and appreciate them for the job offer. You may now add your signature at the end of the email.

In Conclusion

Keep the email concise and professional. Ensure it is devoid of grammatical and typographical errors by reading it through thoroughly. You may invite someone to help you peruse it as well to ensure it meets up to a professional standard.

Email Sample: Declining a Job Offer for Personal Reasons via Email

Subject Line: Job Offer Decline/Operations Manager

Dear Hiring Manager,

Thank you for giving me this great job offer. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity that you have given to me to work for your company.

I am so sorry that I will have to decline the offer.

Few hours before I got your email, I was informed that my aunt was admitted to a hospital in another state. She was just diagnosed with cancer. My presence and resources are needed immediately at the hospital because I am the only relative she has. I was informed that she may be on admission for the next three months.

I apologize for this unfortunate situation, and also for any inconvenience that my decision may have caused the company.

Thank you again for the job offer, I do not take your faith in me for granted.

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How to decline a job offer gracefully (with email examples)

Turning down a job offer is never easy. But it’s even harder when you actually would love to accept the role—the timing’s just not right. Maybe the company’s the next state over and you don’t want to move your family until the end of the school year. Maybe you can’t leave your current organization just quite yet, but six months from now may be a different story. Or maybe you just started at a new company, but this one’s been on your dream list for years.

In any case, you need to decline, but you want to leave the door open in case the organization has another great opening down the line. Can you do it in a way that won’t burn your bridges—and will even keep the relationship warm for the future?

You can indeed. Here’s my advice.

Be Honest

In most cases, there’s no sense in trying to cover up what’s going on—in fact, the hiring manager will take more kindly to the news if he or she knows the real story. So, along with sharing that you unfortunately can’t accept the position, describe your reasoning. If you’re not able to make a move yet for personal reasons, say so (at least, as much as you’re comfortable sharing). If your boss just quit and left you to manage a high-profile project at work, be upfront about that.

A well-crafted email might work, but picking up the phone is typically a better option for these conversations. Share how excited you are about the role and how much you’d love to accept it, if not for the circumstances. Then say that you’d love to keep the door open, and if there are future roles available and the timing is right, that you’d love to be considered. Of course, make sure that you let the hiring manager know that you…

Know That the Timing Might Never Be Right

Some roles, a company might have plenty of openings—at The Muse, for example, we hire multiple salespeople and account managers every month. (Interested? Apply right here.) Other times, you can’t expect that the company will have a similar position open for you exactly when your timing is right—they’ll likely fill the job with the next best candidate, and it won’t be open again until that person leaves. (Assuming they’ll wait and hold a role for you is a quick way to ensure, well, they won’t.)

It’s a bummer, but it’s important to manage your own expectations and acknowledge that the stars might not align in the future. Of course, you also never know what’s going to happen, which is why it’s still important that you…

Stay in Touch

If you truly want to keep the door open to future opportunities, you have to be the one that cracks it every so often. People are busy, and even if you’re the star candidate right now, they’re bound to move on to other applicants, other roles, and the rest of their jobs. Your resume will be filed away (read: this actually means thrown in the trash or digitally archived) with the rest of candidates who passed on the opportunity.

So, ask the hiring manager if you can connect on LinkedIn, and then make it a point to stay in touch every so often. Forward along interesting articles when you see them. Send recommendations for other roles he or she might have open. Retweet or share industry articles. Congratulate team members on big company accomplishments.

Then, when you are ready to consider a new role again, you can reach out, and the hiring team won’t be scratching their heads trying to remember who you are. Maybe they’ll have a role open, maybe they won’t, but either way, you’ll have kept the relationship warm, continued to show what a passionate professional you are, and added these people to your network. And that, my friends, can only help your job search in the long run.