UPDATED BY
Brennan Whitfield | Jul 18, 2023
REVIEWED BY

Politely saying “no” to a job offer can feel awkward, but it’s one of best professional moves to make under the circumstances. For one, it recognizes the efforts of hiring managers and recruiters, leaving a positive impression for those who considered you for the job.

Plus, gracefully declining a job offer carries less risk than the alternatives — such as giving a terse decline or simply ghosting employers — which can come back to haunt you, as hiring managers and recruiters move to other companies you may be interested in down the road. 

As a result, it’s best to be polite and show some finesse when declining a job offer. Here’s how to do it.

 

1. Show Your Appreciation

Even when declining an offer, it’s important to begin your message by showing your appreciation for the opportunity. Thanking the person who extends a job offer recognizes the time and resources spent reviewing your application and considering you as a candidate. Also, when showing your appreciation, be specific to the role you applied for wherever possible.

Example:

  • Thank you for extending an offer for the [role offered] position. I’m very grateful for this opportunity and appreciate the time taken to consider me as a candidate.
  • Thank you so much again for meeting with me and considering me for the [role offered] position! It’s been great getting to learn more about [company], and I really appreciate your time throughout this process.
  • I greatly appreciate the time you’ve taken to consider me for the [role offered] position. 

 

2. State Your Reason for Declining 

As a sign of respect, it’s best to keep your hiring manager or recruiter in the know on why you decide to decline the job offer. Sharing a brief, concrete reason is key. 

Don’t share too many details on your decision. You don’t want to accidentally offend the employer or put yourself in a negative light. 

Victoria Neal, HR Knowledge Advisor with the Society for Human Resource Management, gave this example:

“Instead of saying ‘I accepted another offer because the compensation was $10,000 more,’ be diplomatic and say ‘I received a more generous offer.’” 

Example:

  • After careful consideration, I have decided to accept an offer with another company.
  • I’m grateful for this opportunity, though after much thought, I’ve decided to decline the offer at this time.
  • I’ve decided that now may not be the best time to leave my current position.

 

3. Be Polite

Whether it be wishing the best for your hiring manager or recruiter, or offering to keep in touch through professional networks like LinkedIn, being polite goes a long way. This can leave a positive impression if you ever decide to reapply or seek another role at the same company in the future.

“Keep it nice, be professional and be prompt in getting back to [recruiters],” Zafar Choudhury, a senior recruiting leader at Amazon Web Services, told Built In. “Politeness is always appreciated and that will keep the door open for you. A lot of people surprisingly forget that.”

Example:

  • Thank you again for your support during this process, I wish you all the best and hope our paths cross again in the future!
  • It’s been a pleasure getting to know you and the team at [company], and I hope we can remain in touch.
  • Best wishes, and thank you again for your time and consideration.
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Job Offer Rejection Email Examples

Emails are an effective way to decline a job offer, since they put your statement in clear writing and are quick to send and receive.

If you are comfortable with having a phone conversation about your decline, you can end your email with the offer to follow up via phone if they have any questions regarding your decision, said JR Keller, assistant professor of human resource studies at Cornell University.

 

General and Non-Specific Decline

Dear [name of hiring manager or recruiter],

I greatly appreciate the time [company name] invested in my interview process and enjoyed the chance to engage with you and the other members of your team. After carefully reviewing all aspects of your job offer, I have decided to respectfully decline this opportunity and will not be moving forward with it. Again, thank you for your time. I wish you all the best.

Sincerely,
[your name]

 

KEEPING THE DOOR OPEN IN THE DECLINE

Dear [name of hiring manager or recruiter],

I greatly appreciate the time [company name] invested in my interview process and enjoyed the chance to engage with you and the other members of your team. After carefully reviewing all aspects of your job offer, I have decided to respectfully decline this opportunity and will not be moving forward with it. However, I would like to recommend [name of another person] for this role and would like to stay in touch for future opportunities. Again, thank you for your time. I wish you all the best.

Sincerely,
[your name]

 

CITING COMPENSATION IN THE DECLINE

Dear [name of hiring manager or recruiter],

I greatly appreciate the time [company name] invested in my interview process and enjoyed the chance to engage with you and the other members of your team. After carefully reviewing all aspects of your job offer, I feel I must decline at this time because the compensation is not commensurate with my level of experience. It was a pleasure meeting you and learning about the fantastic work that you and your team do. I sincerely hope we get an opportunity to work together in the future and would like to stay in touch.

Sincerely,
[your name]

 

LISTING SCOPE OF WORK IN THE DECLINE

Dear [name of hiring manager or recruiter],

I greatly appreciate the time [company name] invested in my interview process and enjoyed the chance to engage with you and the other members of your team. After carefully reviewing all aspects of your job offer, I feel I must decline at this time because the scope of work does not align with my current goals. It was a pleasure meeting you and learning about the fantastic work that you and your team do. I sincerely hope we get an opportunity to work together in the future and would like to stay in touch.

Sincerely,
[your name]

 

ACCEPTING ANOTHER JOB OFFER IN THE DECLINE

Dear [name of hiring manager or recruiter],

I greatly appreciate the time [company name] invested in my interview process and enjoyed the chance to engage with you and the other members of your team. I am sincerely grateful for the opportunity. Unfortunately, I have decided to accept another offer from a different company since the role is more aligned with my current career goals. I would like to stay in touch and sincerely hope we get an opportunity to work together sometime in the future.

Sincerely,
[your name]

 

REMAINING WITH a CURRENT EMPLOYER IN THE DECLINE

Dear [name of hiring manager or recruiter],

I greatly appreciate the time [company name] invested in my interview process and enjoyed the chance to engage with you and the other members of your team. I am sincerely grateful for the opportunity. Unfortunately, after much thought, I’ve decided that now is not the best time to leave my current employer. I would like to stay in touch and hope we have an opportunity to work together in the future.

Sincerely,
[your name]

 

RENEGING JOB OFFER YOU ALREADY ACCEPTED

Dear [name of hiring manager or recruiter],

Thank you so much for offering me the [name the position] position at [name of company]. I’m truly delighted and thank you for giving me this amazing opportunity. Unfortunately, after significant reconsideration, I’ve decided to decline this opportunity at this time. I’m extremely sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you. I would like to stay in touch and hope we get a chance to work together in the future. 

Sincerely,
[your name]

 

How do I decline a job offer without burning bridges? | Video: Ask About GAMES

Tips on How to Decline a Job Offer

Be Certain You Want to Decline

Take the time to reflect and make certain you indeed don’t want the job before you decline an offer. It can be a difficult path to reverse the decision. 

If you decline the offer but have a change of heart, “don’t take the arrogant attitude that ‘I’ve decided to come back to you and I’d like to start this position on Monday.’ You don’t know if that position has already been backfilled or a decision was made to go with another candidate,” Choudhury warned. 

 

Be Prompt and Don’t Procrastinate

Once you’ve decided to decline the job offer, let the hiring manager or recruiter know as soon as possible. This is especially the case if you initially accepted the offer. 

“If you commit to getting an answer back to someone by a certain time, stick to that timeline, rather than having us hunt you down to get a response from you and you end up declining,” said Blake Tomlinson, senior talent acquisition manager at BeyondTrust

He added it’s acceptable to request more time to make a decision, but the revised deadline should be adhered to.

If you back out of an offer you’ve already accepted, notify the employer immediately, and try to address it in a phone call versus an email.

“They’ve done a lot of work to onboard you and a lot of HR stuff and likely have you in their payroll system,” Rachel Amos, director of Career Services and Employer Relations INI at Carnegie Mellon University said. “They’re ready for you to start working for them, so I think a phone call is needed.” 

 

Keep Declines Thoughtful 

Writing a thoughtful email or providing thoughtful comments in a phone call when declining an offer can also go a long way in keeping the doors open with hiring managers or recruiters. 

“When someone puts more thought and effort into their decline, that is something I remember,” Tomlinson said. “It helps down the line if you’re looking for another job in a year or two.” 

End your email or phone conversation with such comments as “hopefully our paths will cross again in the future” or “I would like to stay in touch for future opportunities.”

 

Decline by Phone When Possible 

Whenever possible, try to decline the job offer by phone versus email.

“A call is more personal, allows transparency and it leaves less room for any misunderstanding,” Leena Macwan, a principal recruiter at Zynga, said. “It also lets the recruiter know about the candidate’s long-term goals so they can reach out to him or her for relevant opportunities in the future.”

Leave a voicemail message if the hiring manager or recruiter does not pick up the phone, then send an email. 

 

Don’t Ghost 

Failing to return calls, emails or texts after a job offer has been extended is a form of ghosting. Don’t do it.

“We have memories like elephants,” Choudhury said of recruiters and hiring managers. “We remember when someone has ghosted us and will remember their name if they apply again six months later, a year later, or even five years later.” 

 

Offer Position Referrals 

If you know someone who you think would be a great fit in your stead, “sharing a referral for the position they’re turning down could help end the conversation on a positive note,” Macwan said. “This would send a message that the candidate’s experience with the company was a positive one and that they value the prospect of working at the company.” 

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