We spend a lot of time preparing ourselves to land the right job, but sometimes you might find yourself in a position where you actually need to decline a job offer.
This could be for a variety of reasons. You might, for example, receive two offers of employment at the same time. Or, you might find after a job interview that the position or company just isn’t the right fit for you (even if you applied there yourself).
There may also be times that you’re offered a promotion or an entirely new position that just doesn’t align with your goals at the moment.
Having a thoughtful, polite, yet assertive response ready is just as important in these cases as it is when you’re accepting a job offer.
How Do You Politely Decline a Job Offer?
Follow these 5 tips to politely and gracefully decline a job offer without burning any bridges.
1. Send a Timely Response
Declining a job offer might feel a little awkward, and therefore you may feel tempted to procrastinate when it comes to sending your response.
But the best thing you can do is let the company know your decision as soon as possible so they can continue with their search (and so you can return your focus to jobs that actually do interest you!)
As soon as you’ve made up your mind to decline a job offer, contact the person who sent you the offer. You could make a phone call, but it’s usually best to have a documented response, so email might be preferable.
2. Express Your Appreciation
Start your email or letter by expressing your appreciation for the job offer. It’s still an honor to be chosen, especially when there were other candidates on the list.
Remember that the hiring process is rarely easy or fast, so you should absolutely thank the person who made the offer for their time and effort.
A simple phrase like, “Thank you very much for offering me the position of [position title] with ” is usually sufficient.
3. Keep It Simple
Your letter or email shouldn’t take up more than a few short paragraphs. The first paragraph can express your thanks and state that you cannot accept the job offer.
The second paragraph (or, simply a line in the first) should offer one brief explanation as to why you cannot accept the job.
Then, in the third paragraph you can offer to stay in touch or ask to be considered for future openings (if the issue was with the position and not the company).
4. Don’t Over-Explain
You should mention one reason why you’re declining the job offer, but DO NOT feel like you owe the company a 2-page explanation, or even an apology.
Keep it brief and generic. Don’t blame the company, management, or anyone else. Simply explaining that you don’t think it’s a good fit should be all that’s needed.
Your decision to decline the job offer is your’s alone, and though the company may not be happy about it, the only thing you owe them is your appreciation and a timely response about your decision.
After all, if you’ve determined that the position isn’t the right match for you, you’re saving them a lot of potentially wasted time in training and onboarding, since things probably wouldn’t work out in the long run.
5. Offer to Stay in Touch
If you felt a connection with the interviewer or hiring manager, consider offering to stay in touch and provide additional contact information.
Even if that position wasn’t the right match, this could still be an opportunity for each of you to expand your networks.
Declining a Job Offer: Example
Below is a pretty generic example of what someone might write to decline an offer for a job that just isn’t a good fit. You can download our sample PDF letter for your reference.
Dear Ms. Jones,
I would like to express my sincere thanks for being offered the position of Director of International Admissions at ABC University.
Unfortunately, I will not be able to accept the offer at this time, since after discussing the position in greater detail during our interview, I’ve found that it does not align with my career goals at this time.
Once again, thank you so much for the offer and for your time. I’m sorry it didn’t work out. You have all my best wishes in finding someone more suitable for the job.
How Do You Decline a Job Offer with a Current Employer?
There may be times that you’re offered a promotion or a new position from your current employer, even if you didn’t formally apply.
Just because your current boss is offering you the position doesn’t mean you’re obligated to take a job that doesn’t feel right to you simply to please him or her.
Declining a job offer from your current employer isn’t much different from declining an offer anywhere else. You should definitely thank them, and provide a reason why you feel it’s not right for you at the moment.
Perhaps the position doesn’t align with your professional goals, or perhaps your plate is full at home right now and you don’t feel comfortable taking on additional responsibilities at the moment.
And as with other employers, don’t feel pressured to over-explain. Your boss should understand, and though they may be disappointed, you shouldn’t let yourself get pressured into accepting a position that doesn’t feel right to you.
How to Decline a Job Offer with a Current Employer: Sample
Here’s an example of what you might say if you need to decline a job offer from a current employer:
Dear Mark,I want to express my sincere thanks for being offered the position of Communications Manager. I’m truly honored that you’ve considered me for this position, but I’m afraid I can’t accept this offer right now.
I hope to continue working with my team in our Social Media unit to build our reputation and reach even more customers. At the moment, I simply have a lot on my plate at home right now, and don’t think I could give my best efforts to the job of Communications Manager.
However, if the opportunity arises in the future, I would love to be considered.
Thank you again for your time and consideration.
How Do You Politely Decline a Job Offer Because of Salary?
Perhaps you’ve decided to turn down an offer because the company couldn’t meet your salary needs.
That’s a perfectly legitimate reason for declining a job offer, but if you’ve made up your mind, you shouldn’t bring up salary now.
The appropriate time to negotiate salary is during the hiring process, either before, during, or after the interview.
Don’t write your denial letter in hopes that the employer will make you a better offer. You can be honest and explain that you’ve already accepted another position, or even that the salary for this job isn’t compatible with your needs, but don’t get into specifics.
How to Decline a Job Offer Because of Salary: Sample
Here’s an example of what you might say if you need to decline a job offer because of the salary:
Thank you so much for offering me the position of Communications Manager at ABC Company. This was a difficult decision, but I’ve accepted a position elsewhere after being offered my target salary.
I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to interview me and discuss your company’s mission.
Thank you again for your consideration.
Job Search Tips
Whether you’re accepting or declining a job offer, being prepared with a gracious response is always a smart idea.
If you find that a certain position isn’t going to be a good fit, you can always continue your job search with our tips on how to find your dream job.
Did you find this post helpful? Let us know in the comments below!