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Declining a job offer takes careful consideration, and there are many reasons why people decline a job offer.
Perhaps the offered salary was too low even after negotiations (take a look at our salary comparison tool to understand the industry average for your salary), there was a disconnect with your future manager, and you sense that you would not be a good fit with the company culture, or during the discussion, you realise that the actual job does not match the job description you signed up for.
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Is it unprofessional to decline a job offer? Not at all. In today’s job market, which is candidate-driven in some functions, skilled professionals may get multiple job offers. So, it is widely accepted that job seekers might turn down a role.
You might even receive multiple job offers depending on your industry and sector. A recent survey by Gartner found that nearly 50% of job seekers are considering at least two job offers simultaneously.
Declining a job offer is a difficult decision. A big decision. It is natural to feel nervous about turning it down. It almost feels like you are breaking a promise or not holding up your end of a deal you made when you first applied for the job.
Employers know candidates may not accept a job offer even if they interviewed hard. If you still feel bad, think of it this way: Like the way hiring managers turn down applicants, job seekers also have the right to turn down job offers.
Declining a job offer will not burn bridges. It would be best if you did it in a respectful and professional way that would not damage any work relationships with the organisation in the future. Ahead, you’ll find tips on declining a job offer.
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First and foremost, you need to act quickly and inform the hiring manager or recruiter as soon as you have decided to decline the job offer.
Taking time to update the employer on your decision will likely be inconvenient. If you decline their offer, the hiring team may have other potential candidates lined up.
Also, this will not do you any favours in maintaining a good relationship if you do like the company and hope to work there in the future.
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 down the job. 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 during the call, write down what you want to say and use your notes to keep you focused.
If you cannot get them on the phone, email them immediately to avoid further hiring delays. You could add in your letter that you didn’t manage to catch them for a phone call and had to email.
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You do not have to give the hiring team or recruiter a complete account of why you are turning down the job offer.
You need not provide a specific reason, and the reason need not be the whole truth (for instance, there is no need to say you don’t connect with the hiring manager or do not appreciate their company culture).
At the same time, to decline a job offer politely, you do not want to say too little or anything negative, as you should take this opportunity to preserve the relationship for the future.
In your call, start with a thank-you note like:
“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].”
Follow with a brief explanation of why you must decline a job offer. Here are some examples of how to explain your reason:
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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.
And again, you do not want to burn bridges as you may not know when your paths will cross again, especially if your industry is small.
So end your call with something like this,
“Again, I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to interview me and 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 we cross paths in the future.”
If you need to reject an offer by email, your wording should depend on your reason for turning down the job offer. Here are some examples to help you get started.
In most cases, there are plenty of opportunities to negotiate a salary before declining 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 explain this when you decline the offer politely:
Dear [Name of Hiring Manager],
Thank you very much for offering me the [Job Title] position with [Company]. I sincerely appreciate the offer and your interest in hiring me.
After careful consideration, I will have to decline this role/job offer as the salary is too far outside my expectations to leave my current position.
Again, I would like to express my gratitude for the opportunity to interview and the offer. I wish you and [Company] all the best in finding someone suitable for this position.
It’s not uncommon to go through the interview process only to realise that the role or company you’ve been interviewing for differs from 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 for your generous offer to join [Company] as [Job Title]. I sincerely appreciate the offer and your interest in hiring me.
After much deliberation, I will not be accepting the job offer, as it is unfortunately not the right fit for my career goals/interests.
If you’re considering multiple job offers at once and have decided to accept another offer, you must let the hiring manager know as soon as possible. Here’s how to keep everyone happy and get the correct result:
After much consideration, I have accepted another role that will offer me more opportunities to pursue my interests/grow my skills in [area] and [area].
If you have thought about it and decided to stay at your current job, it is essential to tell the hiring manager in a timely and polite manner. You don’t need to explain to them in detail, but you must let them know to keep a strong relationship:
While this role seems like a great opportunity, I’ve decided that now is not the best time to leave my current position.
If you initially accept a job offer but later decide it’s not the right fit for you, it’s essential to communicate your decision promptly and professionally. Be courteous and clear about your reasons while expressing gratitude for the opportunity:
I hope this message finds you well. I want to express my sincere appreciation for the offer to join [Company] as [Job Title] and for the confidence you’ve placed in me.
Upon further reflection and after much consideration, I regret to inform you that I must rescind my acceptance of the job offer. I have concluded that, at this time, the role is not the best fit for my career goals/interests, and I believe it is in both our best interests for me to step back.
I apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and assure you that I did not make this decision lightly. I truly appreciate the opportunity to have interviewed with [Company] and the offer extended to me.
I hope our paths may cross again, and I wish you and [Company] all the best in finding someone suitable for this position.
Related: Resignation letter templates [2023 Update]
When faced with multiple job offers, follow these steps to evaluate and choose the best one for you:
Turning down a job offer is intimidating but can be handled with professionalism and grace. Keep in mind that a role that is not quite the right fit for you will only lead to resentment and unhappiness in the long run.
Following the steps above, you can decline a job opportunity and maintain a relationship with the company. You could stay in touch if you want to remain in the company’s good graces for future job opportunities.
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.
By doing this, you would, to some extent, remain top-of-mind for the company when a job opportunity at that company comes up.
Looking for a great job opportunity? Browse our latest jobs, submit your CV or get in touch with a Michael Page consultant to discuss roles in your field.
Read more:3 effective questions to guide your first 90-day agendaVetting your next company: how to ensure it’s the right fitWhy do I need to tell recruiters and employers my last-drawn salary
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