How To Decline A Job Offer (With Examples)

By Maddie Lloyd - Feb. 10, 2021

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After searching far and wide for a new job and enduring countless interview questions, at some point you may receive a job offer that makes you want to say, “Thanks, but…no thanks.”

What’s the best way to go about it?

Sending a professional and grateful rejection letter is a great way to turn someone down while also maintaining a good relationship with the hiring manager and without burning any bridges. Hey, you never know when you might need their help or if they could open doors for bigger opportunities in the future.

Whether you encounter a job offer that you’d never accept in a hundred billion years or even one that just doesn’t appeal to you as much as another job offer, it’s a good idea to respond. We’ll cover everything you need to know about how to decline a job offer for every scenario and provide example emails for each.

How to Turn Down a Job Offer

Declining a job offer will look a little different depending on your situation, but some advice holds true across the board:

  1. Be certain. Once you tell a recruiter or hiring manager that you’re not interested, there’s no going back.

    An employer is unlikely to hire you (for that position) after you send a rejection email, and a recruiter might not be as enthusiastic about working with you if you change your mind so easily.

    Ask yourself why you’re not interested in the job. If it’s an unattractive (but necessary) stepping stone to broader career goals, consider taking it — especially if the company seems like a place you could enjoy long-term.

    We’re not trying to talk you out of it — just be 100% sure (or at least 95%+) that you don’t want the job before you send that rejection email.

    Job type you want
    Full Time
    Part Time
    Internship
    Temporary
  2. Respond quickly. It’s tough to balance our first tip with this one, but you should try to get back to the employer or recruiter as quickly as possible. They’ll usually give you a window of time in which to respond — err on the early side of that window for the sake of professionalism.

  3. Email or call. A rejection email is perfectly fine in almost every scenario, but if you’re a phone person or you really enjoyed speaking with the interviewer, feel free to call. Calling may help you stand out for opportunities down the road, if you’re still interested in the company.

  4. Express gratitude. The interview process takes time and effort; show that you’re grateful for being chosen for the job. You obviously left a good impression during and after the interview — maintain it.

  5. Provide a reason. Don’t get too carried away with your reason. There’s no need to add insult to injury and say you felt the hiring manager was a jerk or that the work environment seemed horrible.

    Stick to good old “the job didn’t align with my career goals” when in doubt. Or let them know you accepted another job offer or decided to stay at your current job.

  6. Don’t ramble. It’s natural to feel a little guilty and go over-the-top with compliments to try to make the hiring manager feel better — resist the urge. Get to the point and let them know the important information in a clear and succint way.

  7. Offer to stay in touch. Well, if you really hated the company, maybe don’t use this tip. But if you got along with one of your interviewers or someone you met during the interview process, offer to stay in touch. Weirdly enough, a well written rejection email can help build your network.

Other than that, keep your email grammatically correct and error-free, as with all professional correspondence. Now let’s look at specific example answers for different scenarios.

You Liked the Company, but the Job Wasn’t a Good Fit

If you liked the company, but the position wouldn’t give you the opportunity to apply your strengths and grow your skill set, you could mention that you were impressed with the company, but didn’t feel as though the position is the best fit for you.

Mention the major skill sets that you’d like to put to use, the level of responsibility that you’d like to take on, or other aspects of your dream job that wouldn’t be included in the position you were offered.

For example, if the job you were offered involved working in an office at a renewable energy company, you could mention that you’re more interested in a position that involves working hands-on in the field that would ultimately lead to a technician role.

Dear Mr. Captain Planet,

Thank you for offering me the position of Office Assistant with Carolina Solar Services. I appreciate you taking the time to consider me for the role and for answering my questions about the company and the position.

After much consideration, I will not be accepting the position as it does not fit the path I am taking to achieve my career goals.

I am currently seeking a position that would allow me to directly employ my knowledge of solar energy in the field so that I can reach my career goal of being a solar technician. If a position of this nature becomes available in the future, I would appreciate being considered for it.

Again, thank you for your consideration, and I wish you all the best.

Best regards,

Captain America

Mentioning that you liked the company but are looking for a role that follows your career path a little more closely may open doors for other jobs within the company in the future.

How To Decline A Job Offer

Sarah Brocks
Career Coach & Managing Director of Eaglerock Career Services

Getting a job offer is an accomplishment. You made a positive impression. They chose you. Take a moment to feel proud of yourself and reflect on what you did right. What lessons can you apply next time? Any job offer can be a step closer to getting THE job offer–the one that checks all your boxes.

In addition to notifying your main contact, usually the recruiter or HR rep, I advise my clients to email anyone else they met with during the interview process. Thank them for taking the time to meet with you, let them know about your decision not to accept the offer, and offer to stay in touch. You never know when your paths will cross again. I also recommend following up with LinkedIn connection requests (with a short note).

You Just Don’t Like the Company

Whether the boss seemed like a jerk, the company had an unappealing culture, you didn’t agree with their values, or any other reason you have for not wanting to work with them — if you don’t feel that the company is a good fit for you, that’s a valid reason for turning down a job offer.

On the other hand, you should definitely avoid mentioning in your rejection letter that you don’t want to take the job because the interviewer’s breath smelled like Shrek’s armpit — you don’t want to burn any bridges here.

Unless the interviewer asked you a bunch of overly personal or illegal interview questions, it’s better to not show any dissatisfaction or offer any criticism of the company.

You never know whose path you might cross in the future. You should always express your thanks for the opportunity and give your reasoning for declining in a professional manner.

Dear Mr. Shrek Ogre,

Thank you again for taking the time to interview me last week, it was great to meet the team and learn about the company. I enjoyed learning about the Swamp Cleaner position, and I appreciate your generous offer.

While this position seems like a great opportunity, I have decided that now is not the best time to leave my current position.

Once again, I would like to express my gratitude for the offer and my regrets that it did not work out. Thank you for your time and I wish you the best in finding another candidate to fill the position.

Best regards,

Hank Hill

The Job Doesn’t Pay Enough

If the company is appealing and the position is everything that you’re looking for, but the salary wouldn’t leave you enough money to eat after paying rent, you might want to address this in your response.

Salary requirements are usually addressed at some point in the hiring process, but if your negotiation attempts fail to avail you, you could address this in your response to the job offer. Make sure to convey your gratitude and reiterate your excitement for the position, but state that you need to decline because the salary does not meet your need.

Dear Mr. Cheap Bastard,

I would like to thank you again for taking the time to meet with me last week. It was great to meet the team and learn more about the Money Counter position, and I appreciate the offer to join your team.

Although I am very grateful for this opportunity and would be very excited to join your company, I have to decline your offer, as the salary does not meet my needs. According to my research, the typical salary range for someone in this position is between $50,000 and $70,000.

If you feel that you would be willing to accommodate my salary requirements, I would greatly appreciate it and would love the opportunity to work with your company. Again, thank you for your time and support.

Best regards,

A Poor Person

And that’s how you reject a job offer because of salary! If you’re successful, an employer will respond to you with a better offer once they see that you’re willing to leave their offer behind.

You’ve Received a Better Job Offer

If you’re in the lucky position of having to wade through multiple job offers, then you’re also in the unlucky position of having to turn at least one down.

Even though this is a tough spot to be in, it’s a good problem to have. As with the other scenarios for turning down a job offer, remember to show your appreciation and thank the employers for their time and for the opportunity.

Dear Mr. Fox Mulder,

Thank you so much for the offer for the role of Junior Alien Hunter. I really appreciate you taking the time to consider me and for answering my questions about the company and the position.

While this role is a great opportunity, I have decided to pursue another position that will offer me more opportunities to achieve my ultimate career goals.

It has been a pleasure getting to know you, and I hope that we cross paths in the future.

Best regards,

Dana Scully

Final Thoughts

Turning down a job offer is never easy. In fact, it might almost seem like we’re breaking up with a potential employer. But sometimes we have to reject a job offer in favor of better opportunities, higher pay, or even our own personal happiness.

When rejecting a job offer, make sure to always show your appreciation, thank the employer for the opportunity, and give them a brief reason for your decision.

You don’t want to burn any bridges and risk losing future opportunities just because you wanted to rub it in someone’s face that you don’t need their stinkin’ job.

Now that you know how to turn down a job offer, it’s time to send out a round of politely-worded letters that essentially boil down to, “Thanks, but really…no thanks.”

How To Decline A Job Offer

Alison Lobus
Chief Career Officer/Owner
Compass Career Counseling

When declining a job offer it is important to maintain professionalism and appreciation. Most industries have professional networks where you may encounter people from that organization in the future. When declining a job offer I advise my clients to express gratitude for the offer itself, as well as the interview/recruiting experience. It is also a good idea to connect with your contact at that organization via LinkedIn and check in periodically. You never know when your paths may cross again, or when there may be future opportunities to collaborate.

Never miss an opportunity that’s right for you.
Maddie Lloyd

Author

Maddie Lloyd

Maddie Lloyd was a writer for the Zippia Advice blog focused on researching tips for interview, resume, and cover letter preparation. She's currently a graduate student at North Carolina State University's department of English concentrating in Film and Media Studies.

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