How to Decline a Job Offer

Wondering how to decline a job offer? Though it’s difficult, for your sake, you must learn how to turn down a job offer properly.

You spend a lot of time preparing yourself to get hired, but what if the job offer leaves much to be desired? Perhaps the salary is too low. Or maybe the responsibilities are a far cry from what they advertised. Or what if someone you suddenly learn that you’ll be working with someone you seriously dislike? For these possibilities and more, knowing how to turn down a job offer can be a real lifesaver. Here’s a short guide on how to do it from Resumeble.

how to decline a job offer

Don’t delay

Once you’re sure the job is not right for you, don’t wait any longer to let the company know of your decision. Aside from helping them move on faster with their processes, you’ll also be speeding up yours.

Be succinct with your reason

Let the hiring manager know why you’re declining the position. It’s the cordial thing to do after they considered you for the job. That said, there’s no need to put the company down, like saying how the salary falls short of your talents, or how an offer from another company is so much better than the one they’re handing to you. It’s enough to say something like, “Thank you for considering me, but after some contemplation, I’ve decided to decline and wait for a role that is more aligned with my career goals.”

Be honest and straightforward with your message. Thank them for the effort, and let them know the reason you are declining without getting too specific. Or if you can explain your reason in one or two sentences without being insulting or patronizing, say that. Here are some examples of how to phrase your words.

“Unfortunately, I cannot accept your salary offer. I will need (monetary amount) to leave my current position.”

“It was only during our last conversation that a fully understood the roles and responsibilities of the position, and have decided it’s not for me.”

“I have carefully considered the possibility of relocating, but have decided that this is an inopportune time for me to move.”

Don’t burn bridges

When turning down a job offer, end it with something like, “I hope that we cross paths again soon,” or “Although the opportunity didn’t work out this time, I would love to be part of your good company down the road.” You can mention looking forward to something you discussed during the job interview, such as a concert, seminar, or some other event you’re both interested in attending, to make it more personal.

How to decline a job offer for specific situations (with examples)

Different situations call for different approaches. Here are some of the common reasons people refuse a job offer, along with examples of how to do so in a polite and respectful manner.

How to decline a job offer due to salary – you can try asking for more and negotiating, making sure to let them know about the value that you bring to the table. If they refuse, maintain a tone of gratitude while saying no, never forgetting to let the recruiter know that you appreciate their efforts.

Example: “Thank you very much for offering me the role, but after careful consideration, I’ve accepted a position with another company that’s able to meet my target salary.”

How to decline a job offer due to a better offer – if your reason for refusing the job offer is because you’ve accepted another job, simply state that you’ve accepted a position from another company because they were able to accommodate certain requests or requirements. Avoid making comparisons.

Example: “Thank you for considering me for the job, but I’m afraid I am accepting an offer from (name of company), as they are allowing me to work flexible hours.”

How to decline a job offer you already accepted – make sure you haven’t signed an employment contract yet, otherwise, you could be legally compelled to stay at your job. You can provide a brief explanation, or you can indicate that it’s a private matter. Either way, let the recruiter know that it was a hard decision to make.

Example: “Thank you so much for offering me this position. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, I must respectfully turn down the job offer I have previously accepted.”

How to decline a job offer due to a long commute – getting to and from work should not be the most demanding part of your work day. Otherwise, you’ll arrive at your job exhausted and irritable. If the commute to your new job is beyond reasonable, politely refuse and explain your reason briefly.

Example: “I really appreciate the offer, but the commute is a major issue for me. I respectfully decline, and have decided to stay with my current employer.”

How to respectfully decline a job offer

There is no shame in refusing a job offer if you are sure it is not the right fit for you. As long as you turn down the proposal with grace and politeness, you don’t have to feel bad about it. After all, the next person that the company chooses to hire could end up better suited for the job. Here’s how to decline a job offer with grace and aplomb.

1. Make the call

While turning down the offer via email is perfectly fine, the more gracious method is to call and speak with the person who interviewed you. It will be wise to follow a loose script to ensure you say everything you want to say. Here’s an example of how to decline a job offer over the phone.

Hi, this is (your name) calling you back to let you know I am turning down your offer for the (name of position). I appreciate the interview and the opportunity to learn more about the job and your organization, but I cannot accept your proposal at this time. Taking into consideration my salary requirements and need for a more flexible work schedule, I’m afraid that my career goals don't align with what the role offers. That said, I wish you and your company the best of luck in finding the ideal candidate for this position. Thank you so much for your time."

2. Provide a recommendation

If you have an acquaintance or someone you know very well who would be qualified for the open position, relay the details to them and ask if they would be interested in the job before you contact the company about declining a job offer. That way, you could provide a referral that could potentially save the company the time and effort of finding your replacement.

Of course, they can always choose another candidate, but the gesture demonstrates your care, consideration, and knowledge of how to decline a job offer the right way.

3. Connect with them on social media

Assuming you were able to build rapport with your interviewer and other company people with whom you were in contact as you went about how to decline a job offer, consider sending them an invitation on LinkedIn. Who knows? By keeping in touch in a casual way, your professional connections could prove fruitful to your career at some point in the future despite declining a job offer.

Evaluating a job offer

Before you decide on a job offer whether to accept or reject it, it’s imperative that you take the time to understand the pros and cons of each. As long as you stop to think long and hard about how to decline the job offer properly, you decrease your chances of making a regretful decision. Here are four must-do tips before you decide on how to reject a job offer.

1. Learn as much as you can about your prospective employer. Find out how stable the company is, its culture, and what its future plans are before moving forward with how to respectfully decline a job offer.

2. Consider future salary. The salary being offered might be lower than you expected, but passing the probationary period could spell a huge increase to your income, so make sure to ask about how much you stand to earn as a regular before deciding on how to reject a job offer.

3. Plot your career path. Even with a few caveats, it can still be in your best interest to accept the offer if the work itself or the career growth trajectory appeals to you. It may not be your dream job now, but it could soon become it if you hold on to it and work your way up.

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