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Written by Susan ShorSusan Shor

Declining a job offer

10 min read
Declining a job offer
It is important to decline a job properly and thoughtfully. Let's explore some polite and graceful ways to to turn down a job you have applied for.

You’re in an enviable but difficult situation. You are sitting there wondering how to decline a job offer. Deciding that a job isn't for you is one thing, but actually declining it is another thing entirely

Whether you have received multiple job offers (good for you!) or realized that a position you have been offered is not the right fit, you now have the difficult responsibility of declining job offers that you will not be taking. It is important to decline properly and thoughtfully, so as not to burn any bridges and eliminate useful contacts for the future. 

The employer wants to hire you, so they will be disappointed. Respect the time and effort that went into them reaching this decision and show how much thought went into the decision from your side.

One absolute: Do not “ghost” the hiring manager offering you a job! You never can be 100% sure of where your career path may take you and you may find that you have needlessly closed a door. Saying nothing is rude and implies that you do not have respect for the hiring manager 's invested time and work.

It is important to be polite, direct, and honest when wondering how to politely decline a job offer. It is also essential that you handle this in a time-sensitive manner, so as not to waste any more of the hiring manager's time. Remember–filling this position is/was part of their job requirements, so it is important to show consideration for their effort. Also, be aware that an open position may mean others are shouldering the extra burden until someone is hired. There is no need for you to delay the hiring process any longer than necessary - don't spend longer than you need wondering how to decline a job offer.

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Let's explore some polite and graceful ways to turn down a job you have applied for. Sometimes you know right away the position is wrong for you. When that happens, don’t be afraid to  tell the hiring manager then and there. Yes, you heard it, it might be appropriate to mention at the end of the interview that you do not feel it is for you. You can offer some really quick feedback and do the decent thing - it happens more often than you might think.

That decision will save valuable time for the hiring manager, who may be grateful and remember you later if another position opens up. People are changing jobs with increasing frequency and you never know where this particular hiring manager may end up next.

If you have an extensive history of communication with the hiring manager, you might choose to make a friendly phone call that feels more personable, however, a polite response in a letter/email can be best as phone calls can come at unexpected times. Take your time when contemplating how to politely decline a job offer. This gives you time to think through what you want to say and how to say it. This also gives the hiring manager the ability to reflect on the email, and refer to it if your paths should ever cross again.

Email examples how to decline a job offer

Example

Dear (Hiring Manager's Name),

​Thank you for your recent offer to take over the (job title) position at (name of company). I truly appreciate your valuable time and consideration throughout this process. While it was a pleasure to meet you and learn more about the company, I regret to inform you that I will not be able to accept this offer.

I have recently chosen to accept a position at another company. (Keep in mind you can be as vague or as specific as you choose). This was quite a difficult decision to make, as I am aware of the tremendous and generous opportunity you have offered me. I wish you the best of luck, and I hope we have the chance to meet and/or work together in the future.

​Please keep in touch.
 

Best Regards,
(Your name)

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Reaching back out

Because nothing is certain in life, it is important to maintain contacts and positive relationships with other companies. If you should find yourself in a position where the other job did not work out, you may want to reach back out to the company whose offer you declined

Once again, a thoughtful approach is required here. You do not want the company to think you're unreliable or indecisive, so a strategic plan is crucial. They understand that circumstances change, so swallow your pride and reassess the reasons why you declined the job in the first place.

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You might write an email that says something like this.:

Example

Dear (Hiring Manager's Name),

I hope this email finds you well. It was a pleasure meeting you this past (year or month you interviewed) and I was hoping our paths might cross again. I have decided that my current job is not fitting for my strongest attributes and I am in the process of finding other employment. I was hoping to have the opportunity to discuss any available opportunities at (name of company) with you.

​If the job I interviewed for is still available, I would be thrilled to be considered once again. I am also, of course, open to other employment possibilities as well. I have attached my updated resume below. Might we be able to arrange a time to discuss any available career opportunities in person? Thank you so much for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

​Best Regards,
(Your name)

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Perhaps you took another job and it served you well for a time, but it’s time to start your  job search again. 

You are ready for a challenge at a higher level and believe the company you once turned down may offer the opportunity you seek. Go into what has changed in your mindset - it is important that they understand.

Here is an example of an email you might send:

Example

Dear (Hiring Manager's Name),

​I hope this email finds you well. It was a pleasure meeting you this past (year or month you interviewed) and I was hoping our paths might cross again. At the time, I was offered the (title of job here) position but felt my talents were better suited to my current position as (job title here) with (company name here).

I have learned a lot in the past (timeframe of current job) and am ready for a new challenge. I have attached my updated resume below. Might we be able to arrange a time to discuss any available career opportunities in person? Thank you so much for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
 

Best Regards,
(Your name)

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Maybe you saw a specific job listing at the company. 

Here is an example for that case:

Example

Dear (Hiring Manager's Name),

​I hope this email finds you well. It was a pleasure meeting you this past (year or month you interviewed) and I was hoping our paths might cross again. At the time, I was offered for the (title of job here) position but felt my talents were better suited to my current position as (job title here) with (company name here). I was impressed by (list two things about the company, for instance, the work environment, the company philosophy or business model, etc.) and regretted it did not work out.

I have learned a lot in the past (timeframe of current job) and am ready for a new challenge. I saw your listing for a (title of job) on (where you saw it) and feel I would be a great fit. I have attached my updated resume below. Might we be able to arrange a time to discuss this position in person? Thank you so much for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best Regards,
(Your name)

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Here are a few tips:

  • See if you can find the job listing on the company’s web site. Then, in your letter, tell the hiring manager that you saw the job advertised there. This says that you were looking specifically to work for that company.
  • Don’t forget that you also do not want to burn bridges with your current company. Be as thoughtful when you  resign from your job as you are when you turn a different one down.
  • Avoid negativity. For instance, never say, “I wanted the job, but the salary is too low.” In that case, you should have tried to negotiate for a higher salary.

 

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