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How to Decline a Job Offer Gracefully

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It’s a common occurrence for employers to decline job applications from potential employees. But what if tables have turned and it’s the employees’ turn to decline the job offer? Well, this happens for some people who have interviewed for several prospects, which is totally fine. But what if you are that person who must decline the opportunity? To avoid burning bridges with them, you need to learn how to decline a job offer gracefully. 

Reasons why you may decline the job offer 

Just because you got the job offer doesn’t mean you are inclined to accept it. The decision still comes down to you. And if there are things that you can’t get by renegotiating with the employer, you have the liberty to decline the offer. Here are some valid reasons that can excuse you from accepting the job:

  • The job isn’t a good fit for you.
  • You want higher compensation.
  • The company culture and reputation isn’t at par with your expectations.
  • You already accepted the job but changed your mind later. 

All these instances are valid reasons to decline the job—whether you have yet to respond or you’ve already accepted it. You just have to gracefully do it since your reputation is still on the line. You don’t want to cut ties with them if you’re planning to connect with them in the future, right? 

Tips in how to decline a job offer gracefully

Here are the important reminders in turning down a job offer with grace.

1. Tell them right away.

When you are fully decided about your refusal, let them know right away. Delaying to inform them might cause them to think you are still considering the job. This wastes their time when they could have used it to find another good fit for the job.

Telling them as soon as you can is thoughtful and respectful. There’s no need to be nervous about turning it down. The worst thing you can do to them is neglecting to inform them at all. That’s just unprofessional and beyond acceptable. 

2. Find out what medium is the best to use in communicating with them.

One of the first considerations you need to make before breaking the news is knowing which medium is the most appropriate. Most often, it could either be via a phone call or an email. But the best method to use is the same method they used to offer you the job.

If they sent you an email stating you got the job, hit the reply button and craft your rejection letter. Whereas, if they called you or left a voicemail extending the job offer, it’s best to return the call and inform them verbally.

But if you feel nervous about calling them, don’t put yourself under too much pressure by forcing yourself to it. You can settle with writing an email or where you’re comfortable with—as long as it’s professional. 

3. Thank them first.

The first thing you should put in your message is your utmost appreciation for the offer. After all, you were chosen among a pile of candidates they sourced, interviewed, and vetted for. They literally spent hours poring over your credentials and examining how you fit the role perfectly. Showing them your gratitude should be the first part of your message or email. 

Thank them for the opportunity and genuinely express how much you appreciate their consideration. Make it heartfelt and specific; after all, you don’t know when you’ll meet them again. 

4. Be straightforward and state your rejection.

State clearly the purpose of the message—decline the job offer with such politeness and grace. There’s no need to sugarcoat anything—the hiring manager must know about the letter’s intention. So, you need to be clear and straightforward about it. 

5. Provide them a reason but don’t get into detail with them.

Now that you have stated your intent to decline the offer, the next thing to do is shedding light on the reason behind your rejection. The company still deserves to know why you are turning them down. 

In giving them a reason, don’t dive too deep into the red-flags or the negative things that steered you away. Instead, try to highlight the positive aspects of the job that made you consider them, but do mention that you don’t feel like you are a good fit for the company or you have gotten another job somewhere. The key here is being honest, brief, yet respectful. Skip the negatives but give them a glimpse of why you didn’t choose to work for them.

6. Consider offering a recommendation.

If you know anyone seeking a related position and can highly attest to their credibility, you can recommend them as a potential replacement. While the recruitment team might get on with the next qualified candidate, the recommendation will be highly appreciated. 

When you recommend someone qualified, it demonstrates that you care enough for the company. It shows your consideration of the recruiting process that takes too much of their time. 

7. Do wish to keep in touch.

You can never tell when you’ll meet them again. Perhaps, you built a good rapport with the recruiter; you can extend your desire to keep in touch. You can send them an invite request on LinkedIn or request to let you know when a better opportunity fits you. 

Offer some pleasantries before you sign off, wish them well or even look forward to meeting them at an event you’ll both attend.

Sample letters on how to decline a job offer

Here are some sample letters to help you in writing your rejection letter:

  • How to decline a job offer when you accepted another from a different company

Subject line: Job offer – (Your name)

Dear Mr./Ms. (Hiring manager’s last name) 

Thank you so much for considering me for the role of (job title) at (company name). After careful consideration, I’ve decided to pursue a career opportunity with another company that’s more in line with my professional goals.

It was a pleasure talking with you, and I very much appreciate your taking the time to interview me and consider my application. 

I wish you success in your efforts to find the perfect candidate, and I hope our paths cross again in the future. If there are any questions you have for me, please let me know.

Sincerely,

  • How to decline a job offer when you wanted a higher compensation 

Subject line: Job offer – (Your name) 

Dear Mr./Ms. (Hiring manager’s last name)

Thank you so much for extending the role (job title) position to me. After carefully considering the compensation package outlined in the offer, I must regretfully decline. The salary does not meet my current situation’s financial requirements. 

I sincerely enjoyed talking with you and learning more about (company name). I wish the business success and hope we can have the opportunity to work together in the future. 

Again, thank you for your time and utmost consideration. 

Sincerely,

  • How to decline a job offer you already accepted

Subject line: Job offer – (Your name)

Dear Mr./Ms. (Hiring manager’s last name) 

Thank you so much for extending the position of (job title) at (company name). It was a pleasure learning about the company.

Unfortunately, I must regretfully turn down the job offer. Though it was a tough decision, I have realized that I am not the best fit for the role. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this may cause and wish it will not affect any future relationship with the company. 

Again, thank you for the time and consideration. I wish the continued success of the company and hope to hear from you again.

Sincerely,

These are the guidelines to keep in mind when you are unsure about the job offer you received. If you need more resources on finding the best job for you, here are some Skill Success courses to guide you:

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