Jennifer Inglis

Not interested? How to decline a job offer in a polite way

Finding a job

Not interested? How to decline a job offer in a polite way

Artwork by: Aleksandra Zabnina

  • Reasons to decline a job offer
  • How do you politely decline a job offer?
  • How do you write a job declination letter?
  • Examples of letters declining a job offer
  • Key takeaways

A job offer can be a cause for celebration, but what if you’ve decided the position isn’t for you? This article will help you politely decline a job offer while keeping the door open for future opportunities.

Even under the best of circumstances, the job hunt can be a long, challenging process. You have taken the time to tailor your resume (with strategically-utilized keywords) and have written a great, eye-catching cover letter. You've come up with thoughtful, professional answers to common interview questions, and you've done your homework on the companies with whom you've interviewed. You aced your interviews and now, you have an offer!

But you've decided to decline.

Turning down a job offer can be tricky, but it's not impossible to do it respectfully. Whether it's a job you decided wasn't for you, or one that, under different circumstances (such as not receiving a better offer) you'd consider, here's how to put together a professional, "thank you, no" response.

In this article, we'll discuss why you might decide to turn down a job offer and how to do it professionally:

  • Reasons to decline

  • How to decline a job offer

  • Tips for sending an offer rejection email

  • Email examples

Statistical Insight


According to a survey by Gartner, nearly 50% of new hires over the last 12 months had two or more additional job offers.

Reasons to decline a job offer

While you don’t have to give the company a detailed run-down of reasons you’re not accepting the job, some explanation is in order. If you’re declining in favor of a better compensation package, for example, it’s okay to say so, but if you have other, more personal reasons, you should keep those to yourself.

The pay is below the market scale

It’s not greedy to know your worth. If you've done your research and found that the offered salary doesn't meet your expectations, you may want to decline.

The benefits aren’t good enough

A benefits package can include health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off (PTO), and even gym memberships and gas reimbursements. Examine what is important to you, and if the offer isn't meeting your needs, that should be taken into consideration.

Lack of a career path

Consider the opportunities for advancement at this organization. If you’re okay with the possibility of staying in one position for an extended time, that’s fine, but if there are no clear avenues for growth, it might not be the job for you.

The culture isn’t a fit

After your interview, you may find that the company culture isn’t a good fit for you. This can include the work environment, values, mission, management's leadership style, and expectations. If you're an introvert, you might not enjoy a social, collaborative environment. If you have a more conservative background, a start-up probably isn't the best idea (unless you're looking for a big change!). If the company isn't a good fit, you might not be happy working there.

Declining a job offer: You got a better offer

The easiest way to say “no, thank you” to one job is to say, “yes, please!” to another. Finding a job that matches up with your needs and expectations is a valid reason to turn down a less-than-exciting offer.

It doesn’t pass the “vibe” test

At times, you just have to go with your gut. It's important to look at the strengths and weaknesses of all offers, but sometimes it comes down to instinct. If something is telling you it's not right, it's probably not.

How do you politely decline a job offer?

Before you send a letter declining the position, make sure that you really don't want the job. Once you send the letter, they most likely won't offer it again. But if you've gone over all your options, and you still decide the position isn't for you, there are several things you need to consider when writing your letter, to ensure you're declining the offer politely and respectfully

Include these 3 steps in your email

  1. Be appreciative. Thank the hiring manager for his or her time — interviewing can be a long, time-consuming procedure and they’ve most likely invested a lot in the job search. Consider letting them know what you’ve learned from this process, and that you took this opportunity seriously.

  2. Give a reason but don't give a lot of personal details. Be honest about your reason for not accepting the position. Mention that you have accepted another offer, or you’ve decided against leaving your current job, or you’re looking for something that allows you to pursue your career interests. But if the position is just not for you, you can say something as simple as, “It’s not the right fit for my career goals at this time.”

  3. Maintain your network. You never want to cause offense or burn bridges, so a polite closing is appropriate. If there is professional camaraderie, mention it. Otherwise, just wish the person well. You can also offer to stay in touch via LinkedIn or mention that you'd be interested in future opportunities (if that's the case). Every interview is a chance to maintain and even expand your professional network.

Tips and hints for declining a job offer

If this is a company you might consider working for in the future, it’s important to leave them with a good impression and keep the door open.

  • Once you've made your decision, let them know promptly so that the company can continue with its recruiting process.

  • Keep it brief. You don't need to offer a myriad of excuses or be ebullient in your praise of the company. Give your honest reason, be polite, and send it.

  • Proofread your letter before you send it. This isn’t the time to get sloppy — take the time to check for typos or grammatical errors.

  • Consider a phone call, especially if you've developed a professional relationship with the interviewer. Send a quick email to set up a time to speak, and have the conversation one-on-one.

How do you write a job declination letter?

The most important aspect of declining a job offer is to be clear and concise in your reasoning. Some explanations you might use are

  • “After much thought, I have decided to accept a job offer at another company.”

  • “After considerable consideration, I have decided that I don’t wish to leave my current job at this time.”

  • "While I appreciate your offer, I have decided to pursue another position that will allow me to explore my interest in management and administration."

  • “Unfortunately, I have decided not to accept the position, as it isn’t a good fit for me at this time.”

Examples of letters declining a job offer

Once you've stated your motive for declining the offer, it's time to put together the email to let them know you won't be joining them. There are several options available, depending on your reason for declining. Here are some examples.

If the offer doesn’t match up with your desired career path

Dear [name],


Thank you for the generous offer to work as a [position] for [company]. I’ve enjoyed learning more about the role, the organization, and the company culture.


 

Unfortunately, I have to decline this opportunity. After careful consideration and much deliberation, I've decided to accept another position that more closely matches my career goals. 

 


Thank you very much for the offer. I wish you all the best in finding the right candidate for the role. Please do keep in touch if another position opens up with [insert career goals] in mind.

 


Sincerely,


[your name] 

If the offer isn’t right for you

Dear [name],

 


I have appreciated the opportunity to meet with you over the last month. I enjoyed learning about the work you do at [company name] and learning more about [position].

 


I’m grateful to receive such a great offer from your company, but sadly, I will have to decline. The position just isn’t the right fit for me, and I've decided to accept a position that has more of a focus on management and sales. It was great to meet you and the rest of the team, and I wish you all the best in the future. I hope we can keep in touch via LinkedIn or Twitter.

 


Respectfully,


[your name]

If the salary or benefits are not what you wanted

Dear [name]

 


Thank you for offering me the position of [job title] with [Company]. I appreciate your taking the time to interview me and answer all my questions about the position.

 


After much consideration, I will have to decline [position]. While [Company] seems great to work for, unfortunately, the role does not meet my salary expectations.


 

I had a great time speaking with you and appreciate your time. I wish you the best of luck in your search for a candidate.


Yours truly,


[your name]

Expert Tip


If the salary is the only thing keeping you from accepting the job, consider making a counteroffer and negotiating for a higher salary. If this works for you, contact the hiring manager and ask if the company has some flexibility with the salary and what range they can offer for the position. If you’ve done your job market research, you can make a counteroffer or accept their revised offer. You can use the Salary Analyzer from Career.io to compare your salary.

If you’ve decided to stay at your current job

Dear [name],

 


Thank you for your generous offer to join [Company] as [Job Title]. I appreciate your taking the time to meet with me and answer my questions about the position, as well as your interest in hiring me.


 

After giving it a lot of thought, I’ve decided that now is not the best time to leave my current position.

 


I hope we can stay in touch, and that we have the opportunity to work together in the future. I wish you and [Company] all the best in finding the right candidate.

 


Sincerely,


[your name]

Do

Don't

Keep your letter positive. You never know when you might cross paths with the interviewer again.

“Ghost” the employer. Even if you don’t want the position, let them know.

Offer referrals, if you like the company.

Over-explain your reasoning, apologize, or blame the company.

Consider a phone call, if it feels appropriate.

Be vague. Clearly and respectfully decline the job offer, leaving no room for ambiguity.

Often, when faced with a new opportunity, we worry about "the road not taken." Ultimately, the decision to take a job or not comes with no guarantees. If you decide to decline an offer, remember to be grateful — that company was willing to take a chance on you. You should feel proud of yourself, even if it wasn't the right position. Remember, your relationship doesn't have to end with declining the offer. Make an effort to keep the door open, and it might reward you in the future. Each interview is a learning opportunity and allows you to focus on your career values, aspirations, and goals. Don't feel you have to take the first — or any — job you're offered. Remember that you are a great candidate, and the perfect job is out there.

Key takeaways

  1. While you don't have to give a detailed account of your thought process, you do need to give a reason for declining the job offer.

  2. Reasons to decline a job offer include deciding to stay where you are, salary/benefits, or that it’s just not the right fit.

  3. When writing your letter, be brief, be gracious, give a reason, and wish them well.

  4. Don’t burn bridges. You never know if another great opportunity with that company will present itself.

Jennifer Inglis

Jennifer Inglis is a writer based in Chicago, IL. An author of two published novels, she has studied comedy writing at The Second City and is a member of the Chicago Writer's Association. She is a former public school teacher and also has an extensive background in the advertising industry. Jennifer has a Bachelor's Degree in Theater from Northern Illinois University and a Master's Degree in Teaching from National-Louis University.

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