How to Decline a Job Offer: Say No Like a Pro

When your job search is coming to a close, and multiple offers are in your hands, accepting your dream job is only the first step. As a professional, it’s your responsibility to know how to decline a job offer with grace and ensure no hopeful employer is left hanging for long. Maintaining great relationships with...

When your job search is coming to a close, and multiple offers are in your hands, accepting your dream job is only the first step. As a professional, it’s your responsibility to know how to decline a job offer with grace and ensure no hopeful employer is left hanging for long.

Maintaining great relationships with every professional you cross paths with is one of the best ways to keep your reputation strong. Whether you’re a traditional employee or a freelancer, this means you’ll have to learn how to say no without causing any hurt feelings.

If you’re ready to become a pro at the art of rejection, keep reading to get our complete guide to turning down a job offer.

How to Decline a Job Offer: 4 Tips

Once you’ve taken some time to deliberate and are completely sure that a new job offer doesn’t quite fit your expectations, it’s time to start thinking about your rejection strategy. Declining a job offer shouldn’t take long — a prompt response should be your goal — but it should always be paired with thoughtfulness. During this process, remember to consider your potential employer’s feelings and how your words will reflect you as a professional.

Here are four tips to help you get your rejection right the first time:

1. Choose the Right Channels

How to decline a job offer: A businessman on the phone

When you’re declining a job offer, giving your hiring manager a phone call should always be your go-to tactic. This is the best way to show that you’re not being dismissive of a great job opportunity. By making a phone call, you are fully present in a direct conversation and dedicating your time to providing a great response. Taking this initiative will also prove that, despite your final decision, you still want the company to move forward — even if it’s without you.

Of course, a phone call isn’t always possible. Many interview processes are arranged solely through email and video calls nowadays, which means you may not have access to a phone number. In other cases, your potential employer may simply be too busy to pick up the phone. If this occurs, responding to a job offer email (or composing your own email, if not applicable) is a good alternative.

Avoid physical letters as they’ll take time to arrive and are a bit outdated.

2. Show Your Appreciation

One of the most critical aspects of your letter should be your display of appreciation for your hiring manager. If any other employees were involved in your job interview process, it wouldn’t hurt to mention that your gratitude extends to them as well. This group of people has likely taken a significant amount of time speaking with you and deliberating results. What’s more, they put their faith in you by choosing you as the preferred candidate for a job.

In addition to your thanks, your rejection letter or phone call should make it clear that you took an offer into careful consideration. Your hiring manager will appreciate that you gave the proposal some serious thought.

3. Be Clear

How to decline a job offer: A person's torso and arms, a laptop, a notebook, a phone, and a pen

Don’t beat around the bush when you’re declining a job offer. A good rejection letter should read like a rejection letter. Being kind shouldn’t hide the fact that you’re not going to be taking the offered position after all.

Your phone call or final email should include a clear statement about your intentions toward the beginning, perhaps after a quick note of thanks.

4. Be Honest (But Not Too Honest)

At the end of the day, no hiring manager wants to feel like they wasted their time. It’s important to give an honest reason why you declined a job offer — though there’s no need to get into specifics that will make you look bad. Always take responsibility for your decision, instead of pointing fingers and highlighting where the employer went wrong. Some great examples of tasteful honesty include:

  • Mentioning that you accepted another offer, but not mentioning that it was due to a higher salary
  • Noting that you’ve opted for a different type of role, instead of saying that you weren’t happy with the required responsibilities
  • Stating that, upon further reflection, you believe it’s not the right time for a transition, instead of saying that your current job offers better benefits

Job Offer Rejection Email Example

How to decline a job offer: Overhead view of a laptop and a person's hands

When declining a job offer over a phone call isn’t possible, demonstrating your professionalism can be even more crucial. While a phone call is a conversation that happens on the spot, an email might be reviewed several times and even forwarded to other team members. This means that any grammatical errors and unprofessional statements are on record and even more noticeable.

Here’s a sample job offer rejection email to help you build your own:

Dear Mr. Smith,

Thank you for inviting me to work for [Company Name] as a graphic designer. After some careful consideration, I will unfortunately not be accepting this position as my career goals don’t fully align with the role.

I appreciate the generous offer as well as all the time you, Jane, and Joe have taken to consider me for the opportunity. I’m sending you my best wishes as you seek the right candidate to take on the position.

Best regards,

Jill

Frequently Asked Questions

How to decline a job offer: Hands type on a laptop keyboard

Understanding how to decline a job offer politely is a must to ensure you’re not burning bridges on your path forward. As you make your final phone calls or build your rejection emails, read our answers to these four common questions for guidance.

1. Can I ask for a higher salary after receiving a job offer?

It’s not unheard of to negotiate for a higher salary after a job offer is made. However, we recommend doing some research before making a proposal to ensure that your newly requested salary will make sense for your skill level and position. Resources like Glassdoor and the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Occupational Outlook Handbook can help you with your research. Even if your potential employer isn’t willing to accept your new ask, they may be willing to improve their compensation package.

When performing this negotiation, don’t mention that you have a better offer at another company. You don’t want to make a hiring manager feel like they’re in a bidding war or like you’re driven by money more than the company.

2. Do I need to contact my recruiter as well, or is contacting my hiring manager enough?

It isn’t necessary to send your recruiter a rejection letter. Letting your hiring manager know about your final decision is enough. This is because the role of the recruiter in the hiring process is typically over once they collect a solid pool of candidates for the hiring manager. However, you may choose to mention your gratitude to your recruiter in your rejection letter.

3. Is it still possible to reapply for a company I’ve rejected if I’m on the job hunt again in the future?

Absolutely. This is what makes learning how to decline a job offer with grace so important. There’s nothing wrong with deciding that a company isn’t the right fit for the time being. However, the only way to keep the door open for future opportunities is by showing how well you communicate and resolve a situation.

4. Is it possible to ask for a more flexible schedule after a job offer has been made?

No, this is not recommended. Most companies have set expectations about whether a job is set in an office as a 9-to-5, highly flexible and fully remote, or something in between. Details about your expected schedule should already be discussed in your initial interview.

Move Forward With Grace

Pursuing your career goals can lead to a big step forward, whether you’re staying with your current company, joining a new one, or starting your own. However, it’s important not to forget about the people who believed in your skills.

Knowing how to reject a job offer in an honest, respectful manner is an essential part of moving forward in your career without leaving bad feelings in your wake. With the help of our tips and sample letter, you can apply your knowledge to your situation.

Before you move on to your next gig, don’t forget to make sure the people you’re currently working with remain your supporters, too. Learn how to ask for a letter of recommendation and submit your resignation letter tactfully in our guides.


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