How to Graciously Decline a Job Offer

  • Posted by Nicole Adams

Sometimes a job offer just isn’t the right fit, even though you applied for the role hoping it would be. Turning down an offer can feel like a difficult and delicate task, but when done well, it will enable you to move on to the correct job and keep your professional network intact. If you’re certain an offer isn’t correct for you, let them know as soon as possible.

How to Politely Decline a Job Offer

Before declining, make sure you’re positive you do not want the job. If a pay increase or changes in benefits exists wherein you might take the job, first try to negotiate a counteroffer. Once you reject the job offer, there’s almost no chance you’ll be offered it again. A company often gives you a certain amount of time to consider the offer, but if you’ve made up your mind before the due date, don’t wait. Acting quickly allows them to get back to filling the job. 

Most choose to turn down an offer over email, which is perfectly fine, but we encourage you to call. A phone call offers a more personal touch and can also help avoid miscommunications. You may be hesitant to explain why you’re turning down the job, but doing so will keep the company from wondering what went wrong, and may even help improve their hiring process. There’s no need to go into great detail, but do provide a brief and honest reason for your decision. 

A selection process requires a considerable amount of company time and resources, be sure to respond graciously. While interviewing potential candidates is their job, this person likely spent hours reading your resume, profiles and sitting down with you for interviews. Thank them for their time. If you’re still interested in the company but the timing or specific position wasn’t right, let them know to keep in touch.

Things to Avoid When Declining a Job Offer 

The main thing you have to think about when deciding on whether or not to accept a job offer is your happiness. There’s no perfect job so you need to weigh the positives and negatives; if the salary isn’t great but you’ll be working with an awesome group of people or if the salary is good but you have a two hour commute, you have to figure out what’s most important to you. 

Don’t turn down an offer because you think you’ll get a better one from another company. Unless you have that second offer in writing, don’t count on it, but remember you can negotiate. Avoid ignoring an offer; if you think they’ll be upset when you turn them down, imagine how upset they’ll be if you don’t give them a decision at all. Don’t lead the company on if you’ve already made a decision not to accept their offer, let them know and move on.

You’re likely applying for multiple jobs and therefore may receive multiple offers, but that doesn’t mean that you should accept all of them. In fact, it will likely damage your reputation as those companies will probably find out. You should be honest about your reasons for turning down the job, but avoid being blunt or disrespectful in your communication.  

Turning down a job offer never feels great, but just remember that it’s an inevitable part of finding the job of your dreams. Are you looking for a great job opportunity? Browse our latest jobs here.