ACE THE INTERVIEW

How to Decline a Job Offer: Say No with Tact (With Examples and Email Template)

Turn down a job offer politely and professionally following these easy steps and using our template.

Have you applied to ALL the jobs and landed more than one of them?

That’s great, we hope our resume and cover letter advice helped, but YOU aced the interviews - so congrats!

You’re definitely in a great spot with multiple offers, and you need to consider which is the best fit. But that also means you’ll have to turn down a job offer from at least one employer, and you’ll want to do that as professionally and tactfully as you can.

Professionals often talk about not burning bridges and of leaving doors open. Reason is,  you never know when you’re going to have to knock on that door again.

In a local industry, it’s pretty common to run into people from other companies. And not to jinx anything, but if the job you do decide on doesn’t work out, you may need want to revisit one of the ones that showed interest.

We suggest you consider calling the company, even though it’s not a must. It can definitely be more intimidating, but if you push yourself to do it, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment, and the person you’re talking to will appreciate the personal touch.

Whether you call or write, you 100% want to inform them that you’re declining the offer - don’t leave them hanging.  You also want to be prompt, so as soon as you know for sure, let them know.

What you’ll learn in this article is how to:

  • Show appreciation and present your reason for declining the offer
  • Turn down a job in favor of another
  • Turn down a job because the salary was too low
  • Make sure you leave the door open incase you want to return

Whether you want to leave the door open just in case, or it’s out of professional courtesy, here’s how to decline a job offer by letter or email so that you leave a great impression.

Turning down a job offer email template (In case you can’t use the phone)

Contact info: Your Name, Phone number, Email
Date
Salutation: e.g. Dear. Mr./Ms. Last Name
First Paragraph: The Appreciation & The Reason
Second Paragraph: Leaving an Open Door
Closing: e.g. Regards,
Your name or signature

How to Decline a Job Offer - Step-By-Step Breakdown

We get it, figuring out how to reject a job offer can be nerve wracking. But we’re going to take you through some of the options and give you the scoop on how best to do it.

Before sending a letter to decline a job offer, give it some thought to be sure you don’t want the job. Once you send a rejection letter, there’s no guarantee that the company will welcome you back if you change your mind.

Also, consider making a counteroffer, whether you want to negotiate your compensation or responsibilities, before just cutting the job out. You may be able to get exactly what you want by asking, and there’s no harm in professional negotiation toward a mutual agreement.

Once you've considered the opportunity and decided not to accept it, though, you should let them know in a polite, grateful, and timely letter that you’ve declined their offer. This is ​a great way to make a graceful exit and keep in good standing in case you need to deal with them again in the future.

Let’s break down the basic template we laid out earlier.

The Appreciation

Start by letting the person you spoke with know that you appreciate the offer. Showing appreciation goes a long way toward smoothing any ruffled feathers your rejection might cause.

This is the kind of politeness and humility you’d be best to use in most of your professional correspondances, as it enhances relationships and builds rapport with others. Being polite in your rejection letter helps since you never know when or why you might speak to them again in future.

One or two short sentences thanking the person for the opportunity to work there and for the time they took during the interview/hiring process/negotiations is all you need. This small gesture makes sure you start by putting them in the best frame of mind you can.

And as an added bonus, being polite in this letter can really help boost YOUR confidence and make you feel good about taking the responsible and higher road!

The Reason

Next, you want to offer them a reason for your decision. Again, this doesn’t need to be long.

In fact, brief is better throughout this letter. It shows further that you respect their time, and keeps you from sounding like you're making excuses or rambling.

Anyhow, you want to clarify why you didn’t accept the offer so you don’t keep them wondering why you’re going in another direction.  It will also be appreciated because they may learn how they could improve their offer, and it makes it clear that you took the time to consider them and their offer.

The reason you give should also be short, sweet, and to the point. One sentence should do, and not more than two.

Leaving an Open Door

The purpose of this paragraph is to stress your appreciation for the prospective employer and hiring manager’s time, effort, and offer a few kind words about the future.

By this point you might have gone through a pretty lengthy interview process, been asked a ton of questions, and all of this was on their schedule too. They’ll appreciate you recognizing the time they spent with you.

It’s a good idea to wish them well in their (now) ongoing candidate search and to make a point of clearly saying something positive about any possible future interaction with them.

Wishing them well and expressing positivity about future dealings shows you don’t have any hard feelings, and will help make sure they don’t either. It’s a way of taking the first step toward getting rid of the awkwardness that rejecting their offer might cause.

Examples:

We’ve included three examples here of how you might write a letter declining a job offer in different scenarios.

Example 1 - Declining a Job in General

Misla Bamelshek
555-555-1897
first.lastname@hotmail.com
June 3, 2022

Dear Ms. Spurlock,
Thank you very much for offering me the opportunity to join the team at [Name of Company]. Unfortunately, I will not be accepting the position as I have decided to focus on another opportunity that was offered to me.

Once again, I appreciate and thank you for the offer, and I extend my regrets that it didn't work out. Best of luck in finding someone suitable for the position, and I look forward to any future dealings we may have together.

Sincerely,
Name [Email]/Signature (Hard Copy)

The example above shows how you might turn down a job without giving a specific reason, while still being courteous.  You can see in the first paragraph we’ve thanked the hiring manager for the offer and their time, and let them know your choice is based on a better fit or preference.

In the second paragraph, we’ve followed up with another thanks, wished them good luck in their ongoing candidate search, and expressed positive feelings toward future contact.  This simple paragraph really gets across to them that you’re appreciative and ends things on a positive note.

Example #2 - Accepted Another Offer

Sylvia Mesenger
555-555-3808
name.lastname[at]gmail.com
June 3, 2022

Dear Ms. Crouch,

Thank you very much for offering me the position of [Job Title] with [Name of Company]. After much consideration, I have accepted a position with another company that more closely matches my career path.

I sincerely appreciate your time during the interview and selection process, and the opportunity with your company. I wish you well and look forward to any future dealings with you and [Name of Company].

Regards,
Name [Email]/Signature (Hard Copy)

The difference in this example is that it indicates you’ve chosen another job; otherwise, the basic thanks and appreciation sections stay the same. The simple reason offered is that it is a better fit for your career.

The message here is that while this company’s offer was good, you’ve made the best choice for your specific goals.`` All professionals would understand this decision and it would be hard to hold that against you.

The exact reason you choose another job may be different, and you can sub it in without changing much otherwise.

Example # 3 - Insufficient Salary

Jim James
519-555-0549
Jim.James[at]gmail.com
June 3, 2022

Dear Mr. Azabideh,

Thank you very much for offering me the position of [Job Title]  with [Name of
Company].  I appreciate your time in considering my counteroffer with respect to the compensation package. I understand that you must work within your budgets, but unfortunately I must decline the position at the current offer.

Again, I am grateful for your time and consideration during the negotiation process. I hope that you are able to secure an excellent candidate, and I look forward to any further interactions we may have in the future.

Best regards,
Name [Email]/Signature (Hard Copy)

Finally, here you can see an example in the case that the compensation being offered and any negotiations you went through didn’t meet your expectations. This can feel tricky to navigate.

Regardless, the mismatch is presented in this letter in an appreciative and polite tone, avoiding any rudeness or judgment about the company’s choice.

Again, keeping things professional like this makes it clear why you’re turning the offer down, and it touches on a potentially thorny issue with grace and tact. Doing this means you can maintain professional contact and avoid any awkwardness in future interactions.

Bonus: Email examples of how to politely decline a job offer you already accepted.

Sooooo, something changed after you already accepted an offer. Maybe you got a better offer, or your circumstances have changed, or maybe it’s just that you've had second thoughts.

Now what?

Actually, these things happen, and while it is a bit of a bigger issue, the best way forward is the same. You want to make a brief, polite, thankful statement and offer a short reason for your change of plans.

Here’s a couple of options you can sub into a first paragraph after thanking them for their offer and time.

While I was very interested in joining your team, since we last talked I received a job offer for a role that is a better fit for me.  Unfortunately I have decided to decline your offer as the long term prospects with this new role are too hard to turn down.

I want to let you know that since I accepted the offer, my spouse has been offered a promotion that requires us to relocate. Given the opportunity, this move makes most sense for our family. I appreciate your interest in me, and I wish you the best in finding a candidate for the position.

I’m writing to inform you that regrettably I have decided to decline your job offer. While I enjoyed meeting the team, after my time there I’m able to see that the role does not align as well with my career goals as I had initially thought. I feel it is best for us both that I leave at this point rather than investing more time and effort, since it will not work in the long run.

Of course, there are so many reasons why you might need to decline a job offer, either before or after accepting it. These examples only touch the tip of the iceberg, and you can fit your specifics in with a little rewording.

Declining a job offer is one small part of the puzzle when you’re building your career, and it can be confusing. If you have any other questions, we’ve got info, help, and strategies on resume writing, social profiles, interview prep, and salary negotiation to help you put those pieces together.

Takeaways

  • It’s always a good idea to write a polite, professional letter to decline a job offer that has been extended to you if you decide not to take it.
  • Write (and send) this letter as soon as you’re sure of your decision.
  • Keep your letter short and to the point - it’s a sign of respect and appreciation.
  • You should thank them for the offer, give a reason, and thank them for their time.
  • It’s ok to give them honest feedback about why you’re declining the offer - but be tactful!
  • Don’t forget to leave the door open for future communication.
  • You should write a similar letter even in the case that you already accepted the job.

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Kevin Roy
After a successful career in the corporate and non-profit worlds hunting for and hiring great candidates for my and others' teams, I spend my time writing on the subjects I love and know most about.