How To Reject A Job Offer Gracefully [Tips & Email Examples]

June 26, 2024 0 Comments

The number of job openings in the U.S. decreased significantly from 11.3 million in 2022 to 8.8 million by July 2023.[1] Congratulations on receiving a job offer! 

But if the offer doesn’t quite meet your expectations, you might be considering turning it down.

Declining a job offer can be a delicate task. Whether you’ve received a better offer, decided to stay at your current job, or your circumstances have changed, professionally turning down a job offer is crucial for maintaining a positive relationship with potential employers.

Wondering how to handle this situation? 

Here’s our guide on how to decline a job offer professionally. It provides actionable tips and email examples to help you decline a job offer gracefully and professionally.

Common Reasons for Declining a Job Offer

What is a valid reason to reject a job offer?– Any and every reason of yours!

  • Better Opportunity Elsewhere. You have received another offer that aligns more with your career goals.
  • Personal Reasons. 13% of candidates turn down a job offer due to personal reasons such as poor health or difficulty finding childcare. [3]
  • Salary and Benefits. 23.24% of job applicants decline a job offer due to low wages. [3] 
  • Company Culture. The company’s culture or values do not match your preferences.
  • Career Path. The role does not align with your career aspirations or growth plans. 12.13% of applicants decline a job offer due to inconvenient working hours. [3]
  • Jobs are not a good fit. 6.04% of candidates decline a job offer when they feel the job is not a good fit for their skillset.
  • Long commute: 10.97% of job seekers decline a job offer due to a long commute. [3]

The fact to be noted by employers- 42% of candidates decline job offers due to a bad interview experience. [3]

How to Politely Decline a Job Offer Without Burning the Bridges

Here is a step-by-step approach to declining a job offer, emphasizing the importance of professionalism, gratitude, and effective communication.

Respond Promptly

Did you know in a German StepStone study from 2019, 29% of professionals rejected a job offer at the end of an application process? [2]

Once you have made the decision to decline a job offer, it is crucial to respond as soon as possible. Prompt communication reflects professionalism and respects the employer’s time, allowing them to continue their search for the right candidate without unnecessary delays. 

Express Gratitude

Begin your response by expressing sincere gratitude, ‘Thank you for your time’ or ‘Thank you for the offer’.  Acknowledging the effort that went into your selection, even if you are not accepting the offer, leaves a good impression and demonstrates your gratitude.

Provide a Reason (Optional but Recommended)

Offering a brief explanation for your decision can be helpful, though it’s not strictly necessary. When providing a reason, be honest yet tactful to avoid burning bridges. Whether it’s accepting another offer, personal reasons, or a misalignment in career goals, a concise explanation can provide closure for the employer and leave the door open for future interactions.

Keep It Brief

When declining a job offer, keep your message concise and to the point. Avoid long-winded explanations or detailed feedback unless specifically requested. A succinct response is respectful of the hiring manager’s time and effectively communicates your decision without unnecessary elaboration.

Offer to Stay in Touch

Conclude your message by expressing a willingness to stay connected. This gesture indicates that you value the relationship and are open to potential future opportunities with the company. 

Stella Thomas, Head of Talent Acquisition at Tally Solutions, states, When candidates have multiple offers, they often compare compensation and go with the higher-paying option. Factors like the company’s product line, market value, culture, work environment, location preference, remote work opportunities, and monetary benefits can also cause candidates to change their minds.” [4]

Email Examples to Turn Down a Job Offer

The easiest and most effective way to reject a job offer is over email. It allows you to communicate your decision clearly and respectfully while providing the employer with a written record. We have provided ready-to-use templates to help you craft a polite and effective email for turning down a job offer:

Declining for Another Opportunity

Subject: Job Offer – [Your Name]

Dear [Hiring Manager's Name],

Thank you very much for offering me the [Job Title] position at [Company Name]. I genuinely appreciate the time and effort your team has invested in considering my application and interviewing me.

After careful consideration, I have decided to accept another offer that aligns more closely with my career goals and aspirations. This was not an easy decision, as I was impressed by [Company Name] and the opportunity to be part of your team.

I hope we can stay in touch for potential future collaborations. Thank you again for the opportunity.

Best regards,
[Your Full Name]

Declining Due to Personal Reasons

Subject: [Job Title] Offer – [Your Name]

Dear [Hiring Manager's Name],

I want to extend my gratitude for the offer to join [Company Name] as a [Job Title]. It was a pleasure meeting you and learning more about your team and the exciting projects at [Company Name].

Due to recent changes in my personal circumstances, I am unable to accept the offer at this time. This decision was challenging to make, and I want to express my sincere thanks for the consideration and the time taken throughout the interview process.

I hope our paths may cross again in the future. Thank you once again for the opportunity.

Warm regards,
[Your Full Name]

Declining Due to Salary or Benefits

Subject: Job Offer Decline – [Your Name]

Dear [Hiring Manager's Name],

I would like to express my gratitude for offering me the [Job Title] position at [Company Name]. I truly appreciate the offer and enjoyed meeting with your team.

After much consideration, I have decided to decline the offer. While I am very interested in the role and the team, I have decided to pursue other opportunities that better meet my compensation expectations.

I value the opportunity to have been considered and hope to stay in touch for future opportunities.

Thank you again for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
[Your Full Name]

Declining Due to Company Culture or Role Misalignment

Subject: [Job Title] Position – [Your Name]

Dear [Hiring Manager's Name],

Thank you for offering me the opportunity to join [Company Name] as a [Job Title]. I appreciate the time and effort you and your team have invested in the interview process.

After careful reflection, I have decided to decline the offer as I believe the role does not align as closely with my career goals and values as I initially hoped. This was a difficult decision, as I was impressed by your company's vision and the exciting projects you are working on.

I hope to stay connected and perhaps explore opportunities together in the future.

Thank you once again for the offer.

Best regards,
[Your Full Name]

Tips for Declining a Job Offer

Here are expert tips to make the process efficient for you:

  1. Be quick. As soon as you’ve made your decision, inform the employer- ideally within 24 to 48 hours
  2. Be grateful. Express your appreciation for the opportunity.
  3. Be honest, yet tactful. Provide a reason, but avoid unnecessary details that could be seen as criticism.
  4. Keep it brief. A concise message is more effective.
  5. Leave the door open. Indicate your interest in staying connected for future opportunities.
  6. Verbal decline followed by email. If you’ve been offered the job verbally, it’s courteous to decline verbally first and then follow up with a formal email.
  7. Provide constructive feedback. If appropriate and solicited, offer feedback about the recruitment process or why the offer didn’t meet your needs.

FAQs

Should I decline a job offer in person, over the phone, or via email?

Declining a job offer via email is typically the most appropriate method. It provides a clear, documented record of your decision and allows you to communicate your reasoning thoughtfully. However, if you initially received the offer verbally or have built a strong rapport with the employer, a phone call followed by an email is also courteous.

How soon should I respond to a job offer I plan to decline?

Aim to respond as soon as you have made your decision, ideally within 24-48 hours. Promptness shows respect for the employer’s time and allows them to move forward in their hiring process without unnecessary delays.

Is it okay to negotiate a job offer before deciding to decline it?

Yes, if the offer does not meet your expectations but you are still interested in the role, you can negotiate aspects like salary, benefits, or job responsibilities. Ensure you have a clear understanding of your needs and communicate them professionally. If the revised offer still doesn’t meet your needs, then you can decline.

Can declining a job offer negatively impact my professional reputation?

Declining a job offer professionally and courteously should not negatively impact your reputation. How you communicate your decision is crucial—be respectful, appreciative, and honest. Maintaining a positive and professional tone will help preserve your reputation.

What if I’ve already accepted a job offer but want to decline it later?

If you need to decline an offer after accepting it, communicate as soon as possible. Apologize for the change and explain your reasons clearly and respectfully. Understand that this can damage relationships, so proceed with care and ensure that you handle the situation professionally to minimize negative impacts.

Conclusion

Turning down a job offer can be daunting, but doing so with professionalism and tact can leave a lasting positive impression. By responding promptly, expressing gratitude, and providing a concise and honest explanation, you maintain your professional reputation and relationships, ensuring that you leave the door open for future opportunities.

Source

  1. Heritage.org. US labor market update
  2. Join. Offer decline rate: Definition, process, and examples
  3. Forbes. Surprising Trait Has 42% Of Job Seekers Declining Offers
  4. Economictimes. About to abandon a job offer? Consider this first