How to Professionally Decline a Job Offer

While it’s great to get a job offer, you don’t always necessarily want to accept it.

You may be looking for a better salary, a better location or you may just be unsure about the fit of the position.

Turning down a job offer is always in your right and you shouldn’t feel compelled to accept every offer you get.

However, it’s always advisable to do so in a professional and respectful way – after all, you never know what may happen in the future.

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

Why would you want to decline a job offer?

When you’re job searching, you may apply to several roles to increase your chances of success. 

It’s not uncommon for people to have multiple job offers during this process – which is a great position to be in – but can bring with it headaches in terms of choosing the best option.

There are several reasons to consider declining a job offer: 

• The salary isn’t competitive enough

• The location isn’t ideal and you’re looking for a shorter commute

• The benefits or bonus package is better elsewhere

• You’re unsure of whether you’d be a good fit for the culture

• A secondary job offer has a better title or better responsibilities

When should you consider declining a job offer?

During your job search, it’s worth making a checklist of what you’re looking for and what is a red flag to you. This way, you can quickly cross reference job descriptions and even job offers against the list. 

If the offer doesn’t align with this list, you know that you may want to decline the offer. 

Don’t feel like you have to apologise for declining a job offer. Fundamentally, everyone involved is making business decisions and as long as you provide a timely, professional response, the stakeholders involved in recruiting are likely to be appreciative of your honesty.

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How to professionally decline a job offer

If you’re considering declining a job offer – whether that’s for happiness or career development – it’s critical to do so in a professional way. Here’s how to approach professionally declining a job offer:

Make a firm decision

The first step is to ensure you’re making the right decision. There’s usually no going back once you’ve declined an offer so you’ll need to be firm in your decision. Take the time to consider all variables and don’t be afraid to reach out to each business if you have any doubts or questions you need answering.

Provide a concise response

While it’s vital to show appreciation when you decline a role, it doesn’t need to be complex. When you turn down a position, keep it concise, straightforward and honest. Remember that recruiting takes time and resources, so you want to demonstrate your appreciation to the business for investing that time into you. There’s no need to send huge paragraphs but thank them for their effort and consideration during the process.

Respond in a timely manner

When a company offers someone a job, it’s usually done so with a timeframe in mind for a response. If you’re declining and you’re absolutely sure, there’s no need to wait for the deadline. The sooner you can provide a response, the better it’ll be for the company as they can start resuming their search.

Explain why you’re declining the job offer

It’s important that you provide an explanation for declining a job offer if you feel comfortable doing so. Aside from being polite, it can help the company improve their recruitment process and could support future employees going forward. When you’re explaining your reasoning for declining, don’t go into unnecessary detail. If you don’t think you fit the company culture, just say it isn’t the right fit – you don’t need to explain why that’s the case.

Don’t burn your bridges

Even if you’re declining a job offer, you may have still built a great connection with the interviewer which could turn into another job offer in the future. It’s best to remain positive throughout the process and even offer contact details as this keeps the door open for opportunities. Likewise, even if you act professionally and receive a negative experience, it’s best to keep your cool as you never know how it may impact your reputation within the industry.

Example answer for declining a job offer

If you’re looking for an example answer for declining a job offer, you’ll find it 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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