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How to Decline a Job Offer (With Examples)

How to Decline a Job Offer (With Examples)

May 6, 2023

Deciding to accept or decline a job offer can be a daunting task. But if you find yourself in a position with more than one job offer, you’re going to have to do the courteous thing and turn one or more opportunities down.

There are ways to decline a job opportunity that can potentially keep the door open for you in the future. This company likes you enough to offer you a job, and if you handle the rejection well, you may find that they are ready to extend you a job offer again in the future.

In this guide, we’ll look at the etiquette around turning down a job offer and how you can be graceful, professional and smart when you decline an offer. 

We’ll explore the importance of explaining your reasoning, and why you should never decline an offer as a bargaining tool to get more money. Get this right, and you could find the company is happy to offer you a job again in the future.

How to Decline a Job Offer (With Examples) CMD Recruitment

Why would you want to decline an offer?

There are many reasons an employee might want to decline a job offer. The most common reason is that you have been interviewing with multiple companies, have been offered a role somewhere else, and need to politely turn down your second choice. 

Other reasons for turning down a job offer could be that you cannot reach an agreement on the salary. You may also be unhappy with other aspects of the role, such as the relocation package.

And finally, something may have been uncovered after the interview that has made you think twice about working for the company. For example, if you know that they will be cutting the budget for your department, or if a prominent member of the team is leaving.

It’s important to be honest with yourself about the opportunity and walk away from anything that is unlikely to take you closer to your career goals. While you might be more keen to try anything at the start of your career, once you have some experience under your belt, you should have a better idea about which opportunities are aligned with your career aspirations. 

How to Decline a Job Offer (With Examples) CMD Recruitment

How should you decline the offer?

It’s fine to decline the offer in person, over the phone, or in an email. Most people prefer email as it will allow them to collect their thoughts and craft a rejection letter that accurately surmises everything they want to say. 

However, you might find that you are caught out in a phone conversation and need to be direct with your words. If you are offered the job on the phone and know that you are going to reject it, you can always say you need time to think about it and then craft an email to decline the offer.

How to decline a job offer

If you are confident that you are making the right decision, it’s time to write your email to turn down the offer. Here are our top tips for writing a stand out email that will still keep you in their good graces.

Act quickly

It might feel awkward and uncomfortable, but you need to let the employer know sooner rather than later if you plan to reject the offer. They may have a second choice candidate lined up, but this candidate won’t stick around forever. By letting them know as soon as you know, it will be easier for them to offer the role to their second choice.

How to Decline a Job Offer (With Examples) CMD Recruitment

Be clear about your intentions

At some point in your email, it’s important to state that you are declining their offer. It would be all too easy to write a professional and courteous email that misses the point you are trying to make: that you don’t want to accept the role. Don’t leave it down to the hiring manager to have to send a follow up email. Make sure you are clear about your intentions.

Be professional

Just because you have decided not to work for the company, that doesn’t mean you should let your professionalism slide. Remember that your industry is likely quite small and people talk. Always leave things on a friendly note so that you don’t get a reputation for being rude.

Show your appreciation

You may have been through a lengthy interview process with this company, and that takes a significant amount of time. Don’t forget to mention that you are grateful for the opportunity to learn more about their company and get to know some members of the team.

How to Decline a Job Offer (With Examples) CMD Recruitment

Explain your reasons

You don’t have to go into a lot of detail, but it’s helpful if you can very briefly explain why you are turning down the offer. This will help the company to refine their recruitment process in the future. For example, if the negotiations fell down at the last hurdle and you couldn’t agree on a salary, then this could be a sign that they need to be more upfront about the salary available.

If you are simply turning down the offer because you have been offered a role with another company, be prepared for the company to send a counter-offer. If they are really keen to get you on board, they might be willing to increase their budget.

Offer to stay in touch

Your new role might put you in a useful position for the company, particularly if you aren’t simply going to one of their direct competitors. If you are open to it, you can offer to stay in touch with the hiring manager or other members of the team. This can be seen as a highly positive move, as it can leave the door open for future opportunities.

How to Decline a Job Offer (With Examples) CMD Recruitment

Example of how to decline a job offer

Dear Sir/Madam,

Thank you for your offer for the position of Marketing Manager with a starting salary of £45,000. I have reviewed my options and decided that this isn’t the right opportunity for me at this time. I have been offered a role as a communications manager for another company and I believe this is more aligned with my goals and aspirations at this time.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for your time throughout the interview process. It was wonderful to get to know your marketing team and I wish you all the best in finding the right candidate for this role.

Kind regards,

Susan Jones

Why this works

As you can see from this example, the email is direct and gets to the point. It also makes the candidates intentions very clear and avoids the need to begin a bidding war. If the candidate had mentioned that a rival company had offered them a more attractive remuneration package, this could be interpreted as an invitation to outbid them. But in this case, it is very clear that the candidate is accepting a role type of role.

If you want to start a bidding war for your skills and experience, proceed with caution. You should never decline an offer in an attempt to get them to offer more. Instead, simply state that X company has offered Y amount and ask if the company would be willing to match or exceed this offer. 

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