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5 minute read

How to Decline a Job Offer Gracefully

Not every job offer that lands on your table will be the right one for you. Read on to find out how you can decline an offer with tact and grace.

There can be many reasons why people decline a job offer. Perhaps the offered salary was too low even after negotiations, there was a disconnect with your future manager, you found the company culture a mismatch, or you realised after some discussion that the actual job does not match the description of the role you had applied for.

In today’s job market, skilled professionals may have more opportunities. Hence it is more widely accepted that jobseekers might turn down a role.

Depending on the industry and sector you work in, you might even receive multiple job offers. In fact, a recent survey by Gartner found that nearly 50% of jobseekers are considering at least two offers simultaneously.

Turning down a job offer takes tact and grace

Declining a job offer is a difficult decision, and it is natural to feel nervous about doing so. However, employers already know that candidates may not accept an offer even after interviewing. Just as hiring managers turn down applicants, jobseekers also have the right to turn down job offers.

Declining a job offer will not burn bridges with the organisation if it is done in a respectful and professional way. Here are some tips on how you can decline an offer gracefully. 

Be prompt when turning down the job offer

First and foremost, you need to act quickly and inform the hiring manager or recruiter as soon as you have decided to decline. Taking your time to convey your decision would likely create an inconvenience and will not do you any favours in maintaining a good relationship if you hope to work at that company in the future. This is because the hiring team may have other potential candidates lined up in the event that you decline.

Consider the medium: Should you email or call the hiring manager?

Although sending an email to turn down a job offer is acceptable, speaking to the hiring manager or recruiter directly over the phone makes a more considerate way of turning it down. A phone call also offers a more personal touch.

After all, this person had invested much time with you through the interview process and is probably looking forward to having you on their team. If you want to call but are worried you will get stuck, write down what you intend to say and refer to your notes to keep you focused.

If you cannot get them on the phone, send an email immediately. You could add that you didn’t manage to catch them for a call and are informing them over email to avoid delaying the hiring process.

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Start with a note of appreciation

In your email or call, start off with a thank-you note, as below:

“Thank you very much for offering me the opportunity to work at [Company] as [Job Title].”

“Thank you for your generous offer and the opportunity to work at [Company] as [Job Title].”

Give a good reason why you are turning down a job offer

You do not have to give the hiring team or recruiter a complete account or specific reason for why you are turning down the job offer (for example, there is no need to say that you don’t connect with the hiring manager). However, avoid saying too little or anything negative, as you should take this opportunity to preserve the relationship for the future. Do provide a brief explanation of why you are declining the offer – here are some examples of reasons you could give:

7 reasons to give when turning down a job offer

  1. “After careful consideration, I’ve accepted a position at another company.”
  2. “After much consideration, I’ve decided to decline your job offer to focus on roles that are more in line with my current career goals and the work I was hoping to do.”
  3. “I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to discuss salary expectations with me. Ultimately, I will have to decline this role/job offer as the salary is too far outside my expectations to leave my current position.”
  4. “After much deliberation, I will not be accepting the job offer, as it is not the right fit for my long-term career goals.”
  5. “After much consideration, I have decided to pursue another role that will offer me more opportunities to pursue my interests in [insert interest] and [insert interest].”
  6. “Unfortunately, I have decided not to accept the position, as it isn’t a good fit for me at this time.”
  7. “While this position seems like a great opportunity, I’ve decided that now is not the best time to leave my current role.” 

How to end your call or email when declining a job offer

Finish your conversation or email with a thank you note and some pleasantries. You want the hiring manager to know that you appreciate their time. You can end your call or email with something like, “Again, I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to interview me and for offering me this role. I wish you all the best in finding someone suitable for the position. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you, and I hope that we cross paths in the future.”

Maintain a good relationship with the company

Turning down job offers may be an intimidating task, but it can be handled with professionalism and grace. By following the steps above, you can preserve the relationship even after declining their job offer. If you want to remain in the good graces of the company for future job opportunities, you could also stay in touch.

One way is to add the individual who interviewed you on LinkedIn. This way, this person will be updated on your achievements and career developments and might keep you in mind when a suitable opportunity opens up in future.

This article is contributed by Michael Page.

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