How to Decline a Job Offer

Before you decline a job offer, ask yourself some key questions:

  • Why are you no longer interested in the job?
  • Are your reasons for losing interest short-term, or longer-term reasons that you can’t change?
  • If you don’t accept the offer, will you regret turning it down?

If you’ve answered all of these questions and still feel like you want to decline, read on to discover the different ways to decline a job offer.

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How to Politely Decline a Job Offer

Politely declining a job offer focuses on three key things: being prompt, showing appreciation, and giving a brief reason. We’ll discuss each further below.

1. Be prompt.

Let the hiring manager, recruiter, or relevant individual know as soon as you know you won’t accept a job offer. Putting it off can cause inconvenience, and they may have other candidates that they want to notify of their acceptance to fill the position as soon as possible.

2. Show your appreciation.

It’s essential to show your appreciation to the hiring manager or team responsible for interviewing you and the time they’ve spent communicating with you throughout the process. Showing this gratitude goes a long way in terms of expressing appreciation, and doing this can leave a positive impression if your paths ever cross in the future.

3. Give a reason, but keep it brief.

There’s no need to go into incredible detail about why you’re declining an offer, but it can be valuable to give a brief reason as to why you’re moving on. So, for example, you can say something like:

“At this time, I don’t think I should leave my current position,” or, “After some thought, I don’t think this position matches my current career goals.”

It’s also not necessary to give a reason all the time, especially if it’s due to something like red flags you noticed in the boss or if you didn’t like the company. If you have a reason like this, it’s best to simply express thanks and say you won’t accept the offer.

How to Decline a Job Offer Due to Salary

Sometimes you’ll decline a job offer because the salary offered is lower than your expectations, which is a valid reason for looking elsewhere.

Follow the tips mentioned above about politely declining a job offer and, when giving your reason, you can specify that it is about salary. Without going too in-depth, you can be short and to the point and say that the salary does not meet your desired expectations. Here’s an example of how you can note salary as a reason when declining a job offer:

“While this position excites me, I, unfortunately, must decline the job offer as the salary doesn’t meet my desired expectations. I appreciate the opportunity, and thank you for taking the time to consider me for the position.”

How to Decline a Job Offer Over the Phone

There is debate about the best medium for declining a job offer. While some may prefer one medium over the other, the most important thing is that you’re expressing appreciation. Below we’ll go over declining a job offer over the phone.

  1. First, call at an appropriate time where you can reach the correct person, like when they’re less busy, like right when a workday would begin or after a lunch break.
  2. Try to speak to an actual person versus leaving a voicemail, but if you can’t get through, you can leave a voicemail asking them to call you back.

It may seem nerve-wracking to decline a job offer over the phone as you have to speak to the direct individual, but it shouldn’t bring too much trouble if you follow this template. Also, it’s likely the hiring manager or responsible interviewer won’t want to spend a significant amount of time on the phone, especially if you clearly state your reason.

“Hi, this is [Your name]. I was hoping to speak with [Name of the hiring manager or DRI].

I’m calling today because I wanted to let you know that I won’t be accepting the job offer due to [Reason]. I appreciate the time you took to interview and consider me for the position and extend an offer. Thank you!”

The hiring manager or responsible person may ask questions, so be prepared for the possibility of more conversation.

If you choose to leave a voicemail, here’s a sample template:

“Hi, this is [Your name], hoping to reach [name of responsible individual]. I’m calling regarding the job offer and wanted to let you know that I can’t accept the offer at this time due to [Reason]. I appreciate the time you took to interview and consider me for the position and extend an offer. Thank you!”

Please note that you don’t have to give a reason; you can simply say you can’t accept the offer.

How to Decline a Job Offer Over Email

Declining a job offer over email follows the same practices: be prompt, express appreciation, and give a brief reason. Also, if you’re using email because you made a phone call but couldn’t get through, mention that and say something along the lines of “I hoped to get in touch with you over the phone, but wasn’t able to get through.”

Here’s a sample template:

Depending on your reason for leaving, you can input your information. For example, if you accepted a job somewhere else, or you’re simply just not ready to leave your company.

How to Decline a Job Offer You Already Accepted

Declining a job offer you’ve already accepted can be a bit tricky, so here are some tips.

The most important thing to do is read the contract you signed to see if there is a clause or statement that dictates how you should decline the offer. For example, some contracts state that you need to make people aware of this within a specific time frame.

The best way to decline the offer is over the phone, so you can speak to someone and clearly explain yourself. State the reason you’re going back on your acceptance, express appreciation, and say thank you.

Be aware that you may put the business in a challenging situation so that the conversation may be extremely brief.

Here’s a sample template that you can use over the phone or via email:

“Hi [Hiring manager or DRI], this is [Your name]. Unfortunately, after giving it a bit more thought, I will have to decline this offer. I’ve realized that [Reason], and I’m sorry for any inconvenience this may cause your business. I’m thankful for the time you spent interviewing me and extending my offer.”

Over to You

Whatever your reasoning is, declining a job offer can be nerve-wracking. If you use our templates and can be prompt and appreciative, you may find that it’s not so bad, and you may even end up developing relationships that can help you with your career further down the line.

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