How to Decline a Job Offer

Amber Shiflett |
additionalText.categories: Applying

So, you just got a job offer and you need to politely say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Whether the pay is too low or it’s just not a culture fit, there are plenty of reasons to turn down a job offer. 

This is just a standard part of business, but you may have never been in this position. If you’ve ever done a job search before, you know how odd it feels to be the one sending the rejection letter! 

But hey, your career goals are what matter most here. It’s better to reject a job that’s not a good fit than to take it anyway and be miserable. 

Keep in mind that there’s a right way to decline a job offer. Avoid burning all your bridges by sticking to this 3-step process. 

Reply ASAP

Let’s say the offer letter sails into your inbox. What do you do? 

A) Ignore it and keep binging on Netflix

B) Reply immediately

You know the answer, boss. Don’t leave a hiring manager hanging when they send you a job offer. This is super important because they can then turn around and offer the job to another candidate in the hiring process. 

If you take forever to answer, you’re hogging a spot you don’t even want. It’s kinda rude. Plan to reply at least before the close of business when you receive a job offer you don't want. 

Make it personal

While there’s nothing wrong with shooting off a quick email expressing that you aren’t interested, email doesn’t always get the point across. It can even feel cold or uncaring if you don’t watch your wording. 

While you should definitely send something in writing (more on that in a sec), you should also give the hiring manager a call explaining that you’re turning down the job. We know you probably don’t want to call them, but it’s the polite, professional thing to do. It’s extra useful if you want to stay in touch on future job opportunities, too. 

Write a professional email

It’s a good idea to craft your email response before you chat on the phone with the hiring manager. This way, you have bullet points of what you need to say. It also ensures what you say on the phone and what’s in your email jibe together. 

Follow this formula to craft the perfect “no thanks” email:

  • Be grateful: This company went out on a limb and offered you a job. That’s pretty darn nice of them! Always thank the hiring manager or recruiter for the opportunity. 

  • Give a specific reason: Don’t leave this employer wondering why you turned them down. Briefly explain why the job isn’t the right fit for you.

  • Offer to stay in touch (if you mean it): Maybe the position itself wasn’t a good fit or the salary was too low, but you liked the company. If you could see yourself working with this company again, offer to stay in touch for future job opportunities. 

Here’s an example that pulls all of these elements together:

Dear Hiring Manager, 

[Be grateful] Thank you so much for offering this opportunity with Company. It was a difficult decision but, after careful consideration, I’ve decided to decline your generous offer. 

[Give a specific reason] Due to the salary and benefits for this position, I’ve determined I’m not the right fit for this opportunity. 

[Offer to stay in touch] Again, thank you for your generosity. I’m appreciative of your time and interested in learning more about future job openings at Company that may be a better fit. Please stay in touch should future opportunities arise. 

Best wishes,

Your name

Bow out gracefully

Receiving a job offer is very flattering. But sometimes, after going through the interview process, you realize a job isn’t for you. Don’t feel pressured to accept a job just because it’s offered to you; you have every right to decline. Follow this script to politely turn down a job without burning bridges. 

Now, what happens if you’re not getting hired by the right companies? Here are a few reasons why you still might not be landing a new job.