How to decline a job offer

Receiving a job offer is usually a positive thing, but when you don’t want the job, turning down the offer can be an overwhelming task. That’s why we’re here to go over how to decline a job offer politely. Saying no can feel awkward at first, but don’t stress; this is a step-by-step guide that’ll leave you well-equipped. We’ll dive deep into the reasons, timeline, and tone of how to refuse a job offer. If you’re in need of some inspiration, we’ve even included example emails on how to decline a job offer like a professional. Rather have a quick summary? Scroll down to our key takeaways.

Should I decline a job offer?

Rejecting a job offer is something you want to consider carefully, so first ask yourself how not taking this offer will impact you. It’s important to remember that it’s completely acceptable to decline a job offer. Sometimes, people worry that it’s unprofessional or that they should apologise, but that’s not the case! As long as you’re honest and polite, rejecting a job offer is fine. Only accept a job offer that matches your needs.

Below are some of the most common reasons people decline job offers, and are all things you should also take into consideration before making your decision.

  • Salary
  • Growth and development opportunities
  • Company culture
  • Flexibility, either location or working hours
  • Another opportunity has been offered
  • Tasks or responsibilities of the position
  • Choosing to stay with current job

Determining the ‘why’ is important. Giving a reason for why you’re turning down a job offer is respectful and can keep you in a company’s good graces.

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When should I decline a job offer?

When you should turn down a job offer depends on if and how quickly you’ve come to a decision. Have you realised during the interview that this position isn’t a good fit? Then it’s polite to tell the interviewer on the spot. If you’ve only decided after the interview or receiving the offer, then it’s always best to decline as quickly as possible. Employers will appreciate the prompt response, and it’ll help maintain a good relationship with the company and recruiters.

Do you need some time to ponder your decision? Knowing if and how to decline a job offer isn’t easy. Sometimes you’re offered a job but are interested in another, or want to explore other vacancies. Because of that, you may think it’s best to wait a few days. But, it’s better to respond swiftly and openly — a quick email or call is respectful. Thank them for the offer and ask for some more time to make a decision. They will often ask for a rough timeframe, so give yourself a little longer than you think you’ll need; it’s better to tell them early than late.

How to reject a job offer

Figuring out how to turn down a job offer can be tricky, so we’ve created examples to go with some popular reasons for wanting to decline. A general tip to keep in mind is to be open, polite, and appreciative. You don’t have to go into too much detail, but doing this keeps the networking door open. You never know when you might come across this company or interviewer again! Honesty isn’t always the best policy, though. For example, didn’t like the employees you met? Phrase it more respectfully, like ‘the company culture was not the best match for me’.

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Examples of how to decline a job offer

Below are four examples of how to decline a job offer by email. But, you also have the option to call. This is less common but adds a personal touch, which can help with networking opportunities. You can apply the same ideas in the examples to your calls.

How to turn down a job offer but keep the door open

Keeping up good relations is an important skill to master as a candidate. You want to maintain a professional relationship with companies you interview for, as well as recruiters or interviewers you come across. This could lead to further opportunities down the line. So, below is how to politely decline a job offer while still keeping the networking door open.

Hi/Dear [recipient],
Thank you very much for the offered opportunity to work for [company] as a [position]. Unfortunately, I’ve decided not to accept the offer at this time due to [reason].
I greatly enjoyed getting to meet you and the team, as well as getting to learn more about the organisation. [Company] seems like a great place to work, so I would love to stay in touch in case any suitable opportunities arise in the future.
I appreciate the offer and the time taken to get to know me, and I wish you all the best in finding the right candidate.
Kind regards,
[your name]

How to decline a job offer due to salary

As annoying as it can be, money makes the world go round. Does the salary not meet your needs? It’s best to be open about that when turning down the job offer, as it could be a common issue that the company would want to look into. Just phrase the email politely when declining the job offer.

Hi/Dear [recipient],
Thank you for the kind offer at [company] as a [position]. I appreciate the time you took to discuss my interests and requirements in the interview, but unfortunately, the offered salary does not meet my needs. Therefore, I will be unable to accept the job offer at this time.
I’m grateful for being chosen for the position, and it was a pleasure to get to know more about you and the organisation. I wish you all the best and hope you find the right candidate.
Kind regards,
[your name]

Don’t want to outright refuse the offer, but instead try to increase the proposed salary? Check out our article on how to negotiate a salary.

How to reject a job offer that’s not the right fit

Sometimes a job just isn’t a good fit for you, and that’s okay. Jobseekers can think that this isn’t enough of a reason to turn down an offer, and so make something else up. But, don’t just dream something up; when deciding how to say no and decline the job offer, be open!

Hi/Dear [recipient],
Thank you so much for your offer of [job] at [company]. While I’m honoured, I’ve decided that this position is not the best fit for me, as it focuses more on [this] than [that]. So, unfortunately, I must decline the offer.
It was a pleasure meeting you and the team, and I appreciate you taking the time to interview me. I wish you all the best, and hope you find a great candidate for the role.
Kind regards,
[your name]

How to decline a job offer after accepting

We’re not going to lie: this one is going to be a little awkward. But you’re not alone. It’s fairly common, and there are many good reasons why you’d want to back out of an offer. Receiving a better offer elsewhere and hearing less than desirable things about the company are typical reasons. So let’s go over an example of how to reject a job offer after accepting.

Hi/Dear [recipient],
Thank you very much for the offer to work at [company] as a [position]. It has been a pleasure getting to know you and the organisation. Unfortunately, after deep consideration, I will be withdrawing my acceptance of the offer because of [reason]. I believe this is the best option for both me and [company] going forward.
I greatly appreciate being chosen for the position, and I regret any inconvenience this causes. I wish you well in your search for another candidate.
Kind regards,
[your name]

Something to keep in mind: if your job offer was unconditional, you may still have to work out a notice period.

Rejecting a job offer: key takeaways

Want the short of it? These are the key points on how to politely reject a job offer by email or phone:

  • Be certain you want to refuse;
  • Be prompt in your response, whether that’s directly declining or asking for some more time to decide;
  • Be honest, respectful, and appreciative. This keeps professional doors open - you never know who you’ll come across in the future;

There are different strategies for whether you’re declining a job offer due to salary, another offer, or when it’s just not the right fit. But, at its core, these key points are all there is to it when figuring out how to decline a job offer. It’s straightforward; it just takes some time and care. So, now that you’ve turned down a job, you’re a free candidate again. It’s time to take a look at our vacancies and find your dream job! Need some job-hunting advice? Check out all our articles for CV tips and interview tips. If you want to stand out from the crowd, you should also use our high-quality free CV maker.

FAQs about how to decline a job offer

  • Is it unprofessional to decline a job offer?

  • Of course not! A frequent misbelief is that declining a job offer is rude or that you should apologise, but that’s not the case. Employers will appreciate your honesty when declining a role you’re not suited for.

  • How do I decline a job offer without burning bridges?

  • All that’s needed is openness and respect. You don’t have to go into too much detail when turning down the job offer, but clearly state your reason for declining, thank the recruiter or interviewer for their time, and wish them well. You can even ask to stay in touch.

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