How to Professionally Decline a Job Offer

It’s always a great feeling to get a job offer, especially when you’re actively searching for a new role. The problem is, it might not always be the best step for you.

There are a number of different reasons that people may turn down a role – it might not offer the right salary, you might have received several offers or you might just be unsure about the fit of the position.

It’s your right as a candidate to turn down a job role and you shouldn’t feel compelled to accept every offer that you receive.

The important thing to remember is: never burn your bridges. It might be a cliche but in the working world, it’s important to always maintain your professionalism as you never know when you may be in contact with these people again. 

Below we explore how to professionally decline a job offer, why you might do so and provide examples you can adapt to your own experiences.

How to professionally decline a job offer

If you’ve found yourself in a position where you’re going to decline a job offer, it’s important to do so in a professional way. Here’s the steps you can take to professionally decline a job offer: 

Assess your decision and be firm about the result

First things first, are you making the right choice? There’s usually no going back after you’ve declined an offer so it’s important not to make a rash decision. Take the time to speak to your friends, family or even peers outside of the business that might have had a similar experience. If you still have doubts about the potential new employer, reach out – transparency is key in these situations. 

Respond in a timely manner

When you receive a job offer, the employer generally expects a response within a reasonable timeframe so that you have time to weigh up your options and make the right choice. If you’re 100% confident that you’re going to decline the offer, there’s no need to wait around. The quicker you respond, the better it’ll be for the employer as they can continue their search and reduce the strain on their resources.

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Be concise with your response

While we’re all about maintaining professionalism during the process, that doesn’t mean you have to write an essay.

When you respond to a job offer, be direct and honest. The recruitment process takes time and resources, so you want to demonstrate your appreciation for being considered and politely explain that the role isn’t for you. You may want to provide a reason but again, keep this concise and sincere. 

Explain why you’re declining the job offer

If you’re comfortable providing an explanation for why you’re declining, it’s important to do so. This not only shows politeness but may also help the company’s hiring process going forward.

The important thing to remember is you want to strike a balance between explaining why you’re declining but not going into unnecessary detail. If you don’t think you fit the company culture, for example, just say the position isn’t a good fit. You don’t need to explain why that’s the case and go into granular details.

Always think about networking

Building long-term positive relationships is key in the world of work. Even if you’re declining a job offer, you may still want to maintain a connection with an interviewer or employer as it could result in opportunities in the future.

This is true even if you have a negative experience. Keep your cool and maintain your professionalism – many industries are smaller than you think and you don’t want to ruin your reputation over declining a job offer.

Why would you decline a job offer?

It’s common for job searchers to apply to a huge amount of roles, especially if they’re eager to leave where they are or they’re currently unemployed and need a quick turnaround. 

This often results in people receiving multiple job offers throughout the application process, particularly if you’re a candidate with niche skills or more experience than average. This is a great position to be in but can bring headaches when you’re trying to choose the best option. 

Even if you only receive a single job offer, it might be worth considering whether it’s really right for you, as you don’t want to jump into the first choice and realise you’ve made a mistake. Some core things to consider are: 

Is the salary competitive? 

Is the location good for you? Does it offer a reasonable commute?

Is the benefits or bonus package competitive for your market?

Is the culture fit right for you? 

Have you had any other offers with a more senior title or responsibility?

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When should you decline a job offer?

When you first start your job search, it’s a good idea to make a checklist of what you’re looking for and what you definitely want to avoid. This way, you can quickly filter out job descriptions or even job offers that fit into the ‘avoid’ category. 

Throughout the job application process, take the time to dig into the company so that you can find out more information that’s not surface-level. 

Your job interview is a great opportunity to ask some more contextual questions about the company that wouldn’t necessarily appear on the job description, which may inform your decision about whether or not to accept.

Remember – you don’t have to apologise or feel bad for declining a job offer. Fundamentally, everyone involved in the process is making a business decision and as long as you maintain your professionalism, your honesty is more likely to be appreciated.

How to decline a job offer example

If you’re looking for an example of how to decline a job offer, we’ve laid out a generic answer you can adapt below: 

Subject: Job Offer – [Your Name]

Dear [Recruiter],

Firstly, I’d like to thank you for considering me for the position of .

I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me and it was great to meet you during the process. 

Unfortunately, I am declining the offer as [I have chosen to accept a position with another company/I have decided the position is not the right fit for me].

I wish you and [company name] all the best going forward and I’ve left my contact details below in case any more suitable positions appear in the future. Thanks again for the consideration.

Kind regards, [Your Name].

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