How to Decline a Job Offer Politely in 2022

How to Decline a Job Offer Politely in 2022

If you have applied for many roles during your job search, chances are you will be invited to several interviews.

But what happens if you have more than one job offer or you change your mind about a position you’re offered?

There are many reasons for leaving a job but also there are many reasons for declining a job offer.

Some of the most common ones include:

  • The salary being below the market grade
  • Insufficient benefits
  • The lack of opportunity to develop new skills
  • Inadequate company culture
  • High travel costs or time
  • A lack of flexibility or reliability from the employer's side

Declining a job offer needs to be done with diplomacy. You want to do it in such a way that it does not negatively affect your reputation in the industry and prevent you from securing another opportunity with the company in the future.

There are several ways in which you can notify the recruiter of your decision, including by letter, email or phone call.

It’s always important to formally write your rejection but before you do, call the person who interviewed you and let them know your decision by phone. This demonstrates professionalism and shows that you care how much effort they put in to select you.

But how do you begin and what do you say?

In this article, we will give you all the info you need. Let’s get started by looking at the steps you need to take.

How to Reject a Job Offer Positively: A Step-By-Step Guide

If you want to reject your job offer in the right way, then take these steps:

Step 1. Make Sure It’s What You Want

Before you make the first step, you must ensure that rejecting or accepting a particular job offer is in your best interest.

To avoid leaping into a rash decision and declining an offer impulsively, consider the following factors:

  • The suitability of the employer – Research your prospective employer to see if you could work for them or not. You can look into social media accounts, ask current employers or even look at the company's annual reports before rejecting (or indeed, accepting) an offer from them.

  • The potential income you can gain – After your employer, the salary is the second most noteworthy factor to consider. Look into whether the earnings that come with the job stand on the market grade. If not, you could always attempt a salary negotiation. You should also think about whether the same salary would suit your lifestyle in the future.

  • The role the job description entails – See if the position you are being offered is something you would be comfortable being in. Reject it only after you are certain that the particular role isn't for you or if you have something you would be more comfortable doing.

  • The benefits provided by the employer – Vacation and sickness leave, health saving account contributions, pension, stock, profit sharing, insurance, incentives and the use of company property are just some of the crucial benefits worth looking into.

  • The time the job will take – Even if you have fixed work hours, the time to complete the job each day can change. Look into whether the employers require you to work overtime and whether this is suitable for your schedule.

  • The expenses that come with a job – Consider whether the travel and wardrobe expenses that come with the position you are being offered are something you would be ok with. If the everyday commute is not feasible, you may also need to add moving expenses to your calculations.

  • The possibilities of a particular carrier path – Unless you are in dire need of work, any job you accept should be in alignment with your chosen carrier path. Your preferred pathway may choose over time, so make sure to reconsider it every time you receive an offer.

  • The values of the position – And whether they align with your core values. Consider the qualities you seek in a potential employer and position and compare them to the offer you are contemplating rejecting.

Step 2. Be Prompt

Once you’ve weighed up your options, you need to let them know as soon as possible to be polite and professional.

Don't sit on a decision for days or hold off deciding on one company over another because you're nervous about saying no to one of them.

From a hiring manager's point of view, it's far better to receive a quick rejection than it is to wait for a fortnight and only then know that you've got to go back to other candidates, some of whom may have by that stage accepted other jobs elsewhere.

Step 3. Decide if You are Going to Write or Phone

While the most polite way to decline a job offer is through your phone, as this allows you to state your reasons, doing it in writing also has its benefits.

By doing it over the phone, you can speak to someone in real-time, and you'll be able to ensure that the prospective employer registers your appreciation in your intonation. This will come in handy for ensuring that you can keep your prospects open for the future.

On the other hand, for both employers and employees, writing rejection letters via email is much more convenient. You can ensure your message is received quickly and your potential employer can filter their candidates just as swiftly.

As long as you express your appreciation, use polite wording and offer a brief reason, most employers will even prefer to receive a response in writing.

Step 4. Tell Them You Appreciate Their Offer

Be sincere in letting the manager or hiring team know that you are thankful to them for spending a lot of time reading your CV and cover letter, shortlisting you, and interviewing you.

But, don't overdo it and come across as insincere.

Ideally, pick something specific to thank them for, so your comment doesn't come across as overly generic.

For example, if you asked a lot of questions relating to the role and they answered all of those candidly and in detail, you could mention that.

Step 5. Give a Clear Reason Why It's Not the Job for You

Next, explain your reason for declining the offer. Give a brief reason and ensure that it is convincing. Mention that your decision comes from careful consideration.

This is where many candidates go wrong, as they state why another job they were offered was far superior, but you shouldn’t do this.

It's fine to say that another role you’ve been offered gives you a better chance to develop your career or build certain skills but you don’t have to be negative about their offer.

Don’t go into detail about which aspects of the position you’ve accepted compare favorably to the one you’re turning down as you want to leave the door as open as possible.

If this is the only job you've been offered at this stage but you've decided it won't work for you, just say that after reflection you've decided the role isn't the right fit for you at this stage of your career, and leave it at that.

You can tailor your response depending on the situation you are facing, such as:

  • The Work Culture Isn’t a Good Fit for You – Several factors play a role when you consider a job offer. For example, you might not be pleased with the environment at the workplace or the culture there. Maybe your interaction with certain employees has convinced you to reject the offer. Don’t mention your grievance specifically in the message. Instead, adopt a vague tone as to why you’re turning the offer down.

  • The Pay Isn’t Enough – This one can be a tricky message to convey. If the low pay is one of several reasons why you are rejecting the job, make your rejection a general one and don’t mention the salary. If, on the other hand, you feel the pay packet is on the low side but in most other respects you think the company and role are a good fit, you should try a salary negotiation before rejecting the offer. You can mention your excitement at the prospect of working for that company and also cite evidence for what you believe to be the market rate for your position and your worth to the organization. In certain cases, employers will consider this argument and may make an improved offer.

  • The Commute Is Too Arduous – You have to consider the time it will take for you to get to and from the workplace. If you are facing the prospect of a long commute, or the office is located in an area with bad traffic, you might have second thoughts. Though it is always preferable to consider things like commute before applying for the job, the experience of traveling to the interview may have been surprisingly arduous and could have left you feeling unsure. The hassle involved in simply getting to work can outweigh any satisfaction you derive from the work itself. You can mention this reason in your message when declining the job offer.

  • There's Not Enough Flexibility for Your Current Needs – Some people prefer the option of working from home or require flexibility in terms of work hours. You may be unable or unwilling to change your lifestyle for your new job. You may have asked about remote working at the end of your interview and been met with inflexibility. You can inform the potential employers about your current needs and the level of flexibility you desire when you update them about your decision to not take the job. They may come back with a proposal with increased flexibility.

Step 6. Leave the Door Open

Try to be positive throughout. Many industries are a small world, so you don’t want to burn any bridges by being negative. Bring the letter or phone call to a close by thanking them for their time and wishing the company future success.

If appropriate due to mutual career paths or industries, you could also suggest keeping in touch for future networking or more suitable opportunities in the future. Suggesting a connection on LinkedIn is the most professional way to do this, but always ensure you ask permission before connecting.

If you know your paths are likely to cross at a future event, mention that and say you'd welcome the chance to catch up for coffee there.

It may be useful to draft your letter first and then come back to it later in the day and look at it fresh. If you have taken the time to craft a well-written letter or plan exactly what you are going to say if you call, it will leave a better impression.

You never know when you might cross paths with that company or individual again. The offer from your chosen employer may fall through or perhaps you encounter the hiring manager at another company in the future. It's never wise to burn bridges.

7 Sample Job Offer Rejection Letters and Email Examples

Below you'll find all the possible scenarios you may encounter when rejecting a job offer, and example templates for a letter or email you can send for each of them.

Remember, it is always a good idea to tailor your response to the business and your circumstances.

If you are also wondering how to accept a job offer by email, we have plenty of examples for that too in our dedicated article.

1. You Have Already Accepted Another Offer

Here is a sample email for rejecting an offer after accepting one from another company:

Subject Line: Job Offer – [Your name or the hiring manager's name]

Dear Mr [Insert hiring manager's name]

I want to thank you very much for offering me the role of [insert role] at [insert company].

After careful consideration, however, I have decided to decline your offer of employment. The reason is that I have been offered a different role at a more senior level, and with a greater opportunity to develop my professional skills.

I would like to wish you and your company the very best for the future and I thank you again for your time.

Best regards,

[Your name]

2. The Job Doesn’t Fit Your Current Career Goals

Here is a sample letter for declining a job that doesn't fit your long term carrier goals or desired career path:

Contact Name
Street Address
City, State Zip Code
Date

Dear [Insert hiring manager's name]

I truly appreciate your offer to work at [Company] as [Job Title].

However, after much deliberation, I have concluded that I will not be accepting the position, as it isn't the right fit for my long-term career goals.

I give you my best wishes in finding the right candidate for the position and am open to passing on recommendations on your company's behalf. I wish you well in your future endeavors and hope you might agree to keep in touch on LinkedIn as I would love to hear if any opportunities come up in the future.

Kind regards,

Signature
[Your Name]

3. You Would Like a Different Role in The Company

Here is a sample email for rejecting a role while asking for a different role at the same company:

Subject Line: Job Offer – [Your name or the hiring manager's name]

Dear [Insert hiring manager's name]

I appreciate the time you have taken to offer and interview me for the position of [position name].

After much consideration, I must regretfully decline your offer.

At the same time, I would like to inform you that I am interested in the position of [the role you are interested in] as I consider it a better fit for my skills and abilities.

I would like to submit my resume for your consideration and look forward to hearing from you regarding the [the role you are interested in] position.

Kind regards,

[Your Name]

4. The Salary Isn’t Enough

Here is an example of how to decline a job offer in an email when the salary or compensation package doesn't meet your expectations or you have received a better offer elsewhere:

Subject Line: Job Offer – [Your name or the hiring manager's name]

Dear [Insert the name of the hiring manager]

I am grateful that you offered me the position of [insert job position] and trusted my suitability and experience for the role. However, after considerable thought, I have come to the conclusion that I will not be able to accept this offer because the salary for the position doesn't meet my current financial needs.

It was a pleasure to talk to you and your colleagues during the hiring process. I wish you the best of luck.

Once again, thank you very much for the job offer.

Yours sincerely,

[Insert your name]

5. Personal Reasons

Here is an example of a rejection letter when you are declining an offer due to personal reasons such as continuing your education, health issues, etc.:

Contact Name
Street Address
City, State Zip Code
Date

Dear [Insert hiring manager's name]

I appreciate the generous offer you have given me for the role of [role] at [company name].

However, after careful consideration, I have decided to continue my education instead of seeking employment.

Thank you very much for considering me as a candidate for the role and I am looking forward to future opportunities with your company.

Kind regards,

Signature
[Your Name]

6. The Job or Work Environment Isn’t Flexible Enough

Here is an example of a letter for declining a job offer when the position or the work environment isn't flexible enough for your needs:

Contact Name
Street Address
City, State Zip Code
Date

Dear [Insert hiring managers name]

Thank you very much for offering me the role of [role] at [company name]. Unfortunately, I must decline your offer as I have found that the position isn't flexible enough for my needs.

I appreciate you considering me as a candidate.

Thank you again for your time and I wish you all the best in the future.

Kind regards,

Signature [Your Name]

7. You Already Accepted The Job But Have Changed Your Mind

Here is how to decline a position you have already accepted in an email:

Subject Line: Position, your name or the hiring manager's name

Dear [Insert hiring manager's name],

Thank you for offering me the position of [insert role] and for reviewing my acceptance. Regretfully, after considering my options, I have reached the difficult decision that I must regretfully decline the position as I have accepted another position that I believe is a better fit for my abilities and skill set.

I apologize for the inconvenience, and I want to thank you so much for your graciousness during the hiring process.

Kind regards,

[Your Name]

Declining on the Phone

Rejecting a job over the phone can be nerve-wracking. Follow these steps to structure your approach:

  • Choose the right time to call. Usually, lunchtime or close to the end of the day is best, when they are likely to be less busy.
  • Call them and initiate the conversation by asking them if you are calling them at the right time.
  • If the person is not available, leave your name and contact details and tell them you will call back. Don’t leave a message telling them that you are declining their offer.
  • Thank them for offering you the job and then decline politely.
  • Apologize that you could not take the job and that you wanted to let them know as soon as possible.
  • Thank them once again for the offer and say goodbye.
  • Be prepared for a counter-offer. Would you change your mind if they offered a higher salary, greater flexibility or more responsibility? If so, have your answer prepared. If you need more time, let them know and call them back as soon as you've decided.

What to Do if You Have Multiple Job Offers

If you have received multiple offers, you should mention this to the hiring managers during the interview process. This will generate an open line of communication and allow the managers to establish a timeframe during which decisions should be made.

You can mention to each manager the deadlines for accepting each position you have been offered to avoid confusion and burning bridges.

If you haven't had the chance to mention your other offers to the hiring managers, you should do it in your rejection letter or call. Consider all the advantages and disadvantages of each job before accepting or rejecting them.

Once you found the most suitable position or have decided to keep your current position, provide your graceful resignation to all unsuitable offers.

Make sure to express your desire for keeping in touch with the hiring manager, LinkedIn is a great way to do this.

Frequently Asked Questions

Firstly, let them know at the earliest possible opportunity. After choosing a suitable medium of communication, contact the employer to express your gratitude. Make sure to state your rejection clearly, and back it up with solid reasons. You may also provide recommendations for other suitable candidates while expressing your desire to keep in touch to ensure the possibility of future collaborations.

Whether you’re being rejected or you are rejecting an offer, it’s always a good idea to be polite. Start with an expression of gratitude and follow up with your reasons for not accepting the position. To ensure you can provide ample reasons, send the email only after contemplating all the advantages and disadvantages of rejecting the offer. Use polite wording without revealing what you didn't like about the job.

When done correctly, it's not unprofessional to decline a job offer. If you consider the job offered to you unsuitable salary or carrier wise, rejecting it politely shows more professionalism than accepting it only to quit working soon after because you or your employer aren't satisfied.

Be honest about your reasons for declining the offer, even if it's not what you are looking for. You don't have to go into too many details, only point out your current interests. You can, however, offer to keep in touch, so you can revisit the offer in case your needs and preferences change.

Final Thoughts

Although declining a job offer can be difficult, ultimately you’re rejecting it because you've made the right decision for yourself. If you consider your options in advance and draft a well-structured response, there's no reason why you can't say no to an offer with confidence.

You might think that declining the offer will offend the recruiter but informing them promptly is still the better option. They might feel disappointed at first but they will understand the rationale behind your decision.

On the other hand, there will be resentment if you leave them hanging and never call to let them know. Declining professionally still leaves the door open for you at the same organization in the future. All that’s left to do is send out your letters or emails and look forward to your first day of work at the company you didn’t reject!


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