How to decline a job offer: 6 tips for letting them down gently

How to decline a job offer: 6 tips for letting them down gently

Ben TemplePublished on: December 7, 2020
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Rejecting a career opportunity can be difficult. Job offers aren’t always easy to come by, and the decision to decline a job offer can feel like a mistake, even if it’s the right call. Fortunately, employers are realistic about the job market, and you can reject them without burning any bridges. It’s important to stay on good terms with companies in your industry, even as you reject them. With that in mind, here are 6 tips for declining a job offer politely and professionally.

1. Be sure you’re making the right decision

There are many reasons not to take a job, like inadequate salary, location, and cultural fit. Getting a new job can be difficult, however, so it’s important to be certain you are making the right call. Before you commit to rejecting the offer, ask yourself if it’s really the right choice for you and your family.

Will passing on the job be good for your career in the long run? Is the compensation worse than your current role? How are the benefits? Consider every aspect of this job, and discuss your options with your family or a trusted mentor.

2. Be prompt

Don’t let your decision take too long, however. The company wants to fill the role quickly, and they may have other candidates they would like to contact now that you have declined. To help make their hiring process faster (and show that you are a decisive and considerate person, should you ever encounter this company again), be prompt with your response so they can get to work hiring someone else.

3. Choose the right medium

Declining a job offer with an email is perfectly fine. This is particularly true if the hiring process took place mainly online, which is likely the case in 2020 and 2021.

A phone call is more personal and allows for more of a conversation, so if you have a direct line to the hirer this might be preferable.

But if you can’t simply call them up, it’s best to stick with email. As most employers will require an appointment for a phone call or video chat, sending an email will be the quickest and most efficient way to decline the job offer.

4. Give a reason

If you have a sensible explanation for declining the job offer, feel free to say so when you in your declination email. This shouldn’t be something insulting, like saying the boss was rude or that the office smells bad, but if you have a practical reason for rejecting the job it could help them understand your decision. Maybe the commute is too long, the compensation doesn’t meet your expectations, or you received a better offer from a different company.

Explaining yourself isn’t mandatory, however. It simply gives the employer some insight into your thought process. If you prefer to keep your reasons to yourself, a simple “I will be taking a position that I’ve been offered elsewhere” or “I have decided to decline” will do.

5. Show gratitude

Declining a job offer shouldn’t upset the person hiring you, but it doesn’t hurt to let them down easy. When you decline the job offer, be sure to thank them for their time and show gratitude for the opportunity. Hiring can be a difficult process, so letting them know that you value their time will be appreciated.

Compliments can also go a long way. Indicating that you are impressed by the company, the hiring process, or some aspect of the role is a good way to soften the blow of rejection. A sentence or two of professional flattery can boost the hirer’s mood and keep you on their good side, even if you aren’t taking the role.

6. Leave the door open

If you’re interested in the company but not the specific role, or if the timing isn’t quite right, you should make sure to let them know that you are open to future offers. The hiring manager might have another opportunity for you down the road if they think you are a good fit for the company. Let them know that even if this particular offer doesn’t work for you, a different one might.

Example: How to decline a job offer

Dear Mr Smith

Thank you for offering me the position of Customer Support Specialist. I’m afraid I have decided to decline. While I appreciate the opportunity and I am interested in the innovations your company is making, I have decided to accept a more senior position at a different company.

It was a pleasure to discuss this role and your company’s future with you. I look forward to seeing the moves you make in this space in the future. If a management role that you feel I would be suited for becomes available, I would love to discuss it with you.

Best,
Taylor Johnson

Ben Temple

Ben is a writer and customer support specialist with 5 years of experience helping job-seekers create their careers. He believes in the importance of a great resume and the power of coffee.

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