How to politely decline a job offer

Have you been offered a job but need to turn it down? Maybe the salary negotiations didn’t go as planned, or you just feel the company isn’t a good fit for you. Or maybe you were lucky enough to receive multiple job offers at once. 

It’s important to decline the job with professionalism and grace. After all, you might seek employment with that company or recruiter again in the future. By parting ways on good terms, you can leave a positive impression even if you’re delivering bad news.

Key takeaways

  • Job offer rejections can be short and to the point.
  • Being gracious and tactful helps keep open the possibility of a future relationship.
  • Keeping in touch with the recruiter could help you grow your professional network.

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How to turn down a job offer

When you’re writing a job offer rejection letter, the following tips may help you keep your message on track and professional:

1. Respond promptly

It’s natural to ask for a little time to consider a job offer before responding. But once you’ve made up your mind not to accept, you’ll want to let the potential employer know as soon as possible.

You may feel uncomfortable and tempted to push off the conversation. But remember that the hiring manager could be anxious to fill the position you’ve been offered. A prompt answer will let them move on and consider other candidates.

2. Express gratitude for the offer

A simple “thank you” to the hiring manager can go a long way. It acknowledges the time and effort they put into the hiring process and their consideration of you as a candidate. It’s a simple way to let them know you respect the organization, even if you’ve decided not to accept the offer.

3. Give a reason for your decision

You don’t have to say why you’re declining the job offer, but you might want to. And in some cases, the hiring manager may ask for a reason if they’re seeking feedback about aspects of their interview process or compensation package.

In giving a reason, it’s important to be straightforward and tactful. For example, you may have felt like the company culture was too rigid or formal for you. But instead of being critical, you could simply say that you felt the job wasn’t the right fit for you.

If you’ve decided to accept a job offer with a different company, you can say that—but don’t feel compelled to give specifics, like what company you’re going to or what your salary will be.

4. Keep it short and sweet

The hiring manager doesn’t need to know your entire life story. In most cases, a few sentences are all you need to convey why you’re rejecting the job.

You’ll still want to be polite and respectful, of course. But as job search site Indeed puts it, “Don’t go overboard with excessive compliments about the company or the people you’ve interacted with—it’s a rejection letter, after all.”

5. Offer to stay in touch

If you’d like to be considered for other roles at that company in the future, it’s worth saying you would like to stay in touch. 

You never know, you may be able to turn your job offer rejection into a networking opportunity that can pay off down the line.

Example email for declining a job offer

Need inspiration on how to get started on a job offer rejection letter? Here’s an example email to help:

Dear [Hiring Manager Name],

Thank you for offering me the position of [position name] at [company name]. I really enjoyed getting to know more about the role and your company during the interview process.

After careful consideration, I’ve decided that this position isn’t the right fit for me at this time. I’m honored to have been considered for the job, and I wish you the best of luck in your search to fill this role.

Again, thank you for your time and consideration. I hope we can keep in touch and that we might have an opportunity to work together in the future.


[Your Name]

Declining a job offer in a nutshell

Declining a job offer can sometimes be a necessary part of the job search process. Knowing how to draft a rejection letter that is straightforward yet gracious is a valuable skill. It could help you project an image of professionalism and maintain the respect of those in your network.

In the process of job hunting or comparing offers? Learn more about the fringe benefits some employers offer as part of their compensation package.

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