In today’s job market, the power lies in the hands of candidates. A recent survey by Gartner found that nearly half of employees hired over the last 12 months had received two additional job offers.
This means that many job seekers are experiencing a scenario they aren’t familiar with – turning down a job offer – and therefore feel unsure about how to approach or navigate it effectively.
If you’ve been offered more than one job or it's a role that’s not quite the right fit, you might be wondering how to go about declining a job offer formally and professionally. First and foremost, it’s important that you update the hiring manager or recruiter as soon as you've made up your mind. Dragging out the process or informing them of your decision at the last minute will not do you any favours when it comes to maintaining a good relationship there.
The second key rule to follow is to always be polite and thank the hiring manager for the offer, regardless of the reason you’re turning it down.
However, the way you approach rejecting a job offer should also be dependent on the reason you’re saying ‘no, thanks’.
We’ve outlined some of the most common scenarios for writing an email to turn down a job, and how to tackle each situation.
Sample emails for declining a job offer
When you have accepted another offer
Declining a job offer because you have been offered another (better) job is generally an enviable position to be in, but it’s still important to stay on good terms with the employer. Keep your job offer rejection email or letter clear and concise:
I’d like to thank you very much for offering me the position of [Job Title] with [Company]. After much consideration, I have decided to accept a position with another company.
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.
Thank you again for your consideration.
When the salary doesn’t meet your expectations
In most cases, there are plenty of opportunities to negotiate a salary before needing to decline a job offer entirely. However, if you’ve done your part to reach a salary agreement and the company in question can’t match your expectations, you may wish to politely explain this when you decline the offer:
Many thanks for your phone call yesterday and the offer of the role of [Job Title] at [Company].
I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to discuss salary expectations with me. Unfortunately, I will have to decline this role as the salary does not meet the financial requirements of my current living expenses.
Thank you again for your consideration, and I wish you all the best in finding someone suitable for the position.
When the job isn’t the right fit
It’s not uncommon to go through the interview process only to realise that the role you’ve been interviewing for is different to what you had anticipated or doesn’t align with your career goals. If that’s the case, keep your job offer rejection message cordial but direct:
Thank you very much for offering me the opportunity to work at [Company] as [Job Title].
After much deliberation, I will not be accepting the position, as it isn’t the right fit for my long-term career goals.
I sincerely appreciate the offer and give you my best wishes in finding a suitable candidate for the position. I wish you and the company well in all future endeavours.
When the company isn’t the right fit
If it’s company culture, your prospective manager or anything else about the business that’s unappealing to you, avoid negative language and instead explain simply that the job isn’t the right fit for you:
Thank you very much for offering me the position of [Job Title] at [Company]. Unfortunately, I have decided not to accept the position, as it isn’t the right fit for me at this time.
I truly appreciate the offer and your consideration. Thank you again for your time and I wish you all the best in finding someone suitable for the position.
How to tactfully handle multiple job offers
What should you do if you’re considering multiple job offers at once? Here’s how to keep everyone happy and get the right result:
Be honest with the hiring manager about who has made you an offer
Ideally you've already admitted that you have other interviews on-the-go during, but if not, this is the time to say where you stand.
Make sure you communicate it in a way that underlines your excitement about the offer and position, but that you have to see the other processes through to completion. They will appreciate your honesty.
Establish timeframes for accepting the job offer
It is standard for a hiring manager to do this when the offer is made, but ensure there is a clear date for when you need to make a decision.
Explain the timeframes by which you need to make a decision on any other offers and ask them if they are likely to be able to complete their hiring process within the same timeframes.
Make a decision that suits you best
Within the space of a few days you should have a clear idea of where your future lies, but sometimes you're left with one contract offer on the table only and time running out to sign it.
If this is a role you really want, grasp it with both hands. On the other hand, if you think other positions you’ve interviewed for are better options and you stand a realistic chance of being successful, then the offer on the table might not be right for you now. If you can afford to decline it or stretch it out for as long as possible, then this could be the right strategy for you.
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