Accepting a job offer is easy. It’s human nature to say “yes” to a new opportunity, especially after you’ve gone through the effort of researching the company, submitting an application, and interviewing for the role. But what happens when you actually have to say “no” to a job? Don’t worry we will help get you out of that pickle with the ultimate insight into how to decline a job offer.
If you’re not sure how to decline a job offer, this post is for you. Let’s look at the most common reasons why you may choose to say “thank you but no thank you” to a job offer. We’ll also provide real world, actionable strategies below that you may use to decline a job without burning bridges. Let’s get started.
Reasons Why You May Decline a Job Offer
Why in the world would you turn down a job offer after you’ve gone through so much trouble to get the invitation? Actually, there are several valid reasons to decline a job offer. Here are six of the most common reasons:
The Company Isn’t What You Thought
One of the biggest reasons to decline a job offer is because the company isn’t what you thought it was. Maybe you can’t gel with the culture or you predict personality clashes with the management. Perhaps you’ve spotted a red flag. You’ve learned that the company has a high rate of employee turnover and you don’t want to be next.
The Price Isn’t Right
In your haste to apply for every job, even the ones that were nebulous about salary, you applied (and got accepted) for a job that’s paying you way less than you deserve. But salary isn’t the only thing to consider. Perhaps the salary is okay but the company provides no-frills or benefits. If not having “Taco Tuesday” is a deal breaker for you, you may just have to decline.
The Job Doesn’t Align With Your Future
Where do you see yourself in five years? Probably not at a job that doesn’t promote from within. If the hiring company doesn’t provide opportunity for advancement, it may be best to keep looking for a company that does.
You Have a Better Offer
Yay, you’ve found yourself in the land of unicorns and rainbows. You’re in a job triangle where two (or more) companies are vying for your consideration. The only downside is that now you have to say “no” to one of these jobs– and it’s usually, but not always, the job that pays less.
You Don’t Want to Relocate
You thought you were ready to move across the globe (or even across town), but you’re not. You’re a creature of habit and the job isn’t compelling enough for you to change your life in a major way, especially now that you’ve looked at the benefits package.
The Grass Isn’t Greener After All
Now that you see what else is out there, you realize that your current job isn’t as bad as you thought. This is also true if you’re considering a different within your current company. Sometimes, more responsibilities equal more headaches, and you just realized that you don’t want to leave.
How to Decline a Job Offer
After you’ve evaluated the offer and it doesn’t align with what you thought and wished upon a star for, it’s time to tactfully decline. But how?
First, make sure that you absolutely do not want the job.
Step One: Decide If You’re Really Ready to Walk Away
Do you really want to decline the job offer or are you using the decline as a negotiation tactic? Be careful because when you put the decline in writing, it’s permanent. The company will most likely accept and move on, and will not try to persuade you. And, if you were only bluffing, it’s going to be pretty awkward trying to rescind your rejection.
If you’re still debating the pros and cons, you can ask for a little more time before you give the company your final answer.
Don’t let the heat of the moment or pesky concerns derail an otherwise great job. Certain issues can be cleared up, especially if you’re willing to negotiate. If you’d like to accept the job under certain circumstances, speak directly to the hiring manager.
However, if you absolutely do not want to take the job, proceed to step two.
Step Two: Send a Letter
It’s time to write a “Dear John” letter to your would-be employer. While you can and may also reject the offer over the phone or face to face, it’s also a good idea to put your rejection in writing. This professional practice allows you to extend appreciation for the interview and express clearly why you’re not accepting the job. It’s a good form of closure for all involved.
In your letter:
Be appreciative. Thank the hiring manager for the opportunity.
Be positive. Find something positive to say about the company or the hiring manager. Don’t tear down the company (even if it’s horrible).
Be clear. Explain that you are indeed declining the offer. Don’t confuse the hiring manager by being vague in your response.
Be brief. There’s no need to go into the excruciating details on why you’re declining. One sentence is enough.
Be appreciative again. End on a positive but sincere note.
So, how do you write a decline letter? It depends on whether or not you like the company. Consider this:
If You Like the Company…
Don’t burn bridges. Sometimes, the company is great but the job isn’t right for you. Or perhaps another company has made you an offer you couldn’t refuse.
Whatever your reason, it is possible to decline an offer while leaving the possibility for a future with the company.
Here’s an Example Letter You Can Use:
Thank you for the offer to join your team. I’m honored to be considered because I truly admire your company and think that you have a wonderful team. I’ve also enjoyed getting to know you during the interview process.
Regrettably and after careful consideration, I’ve decided to [accept another offer / consider other opportunities that may align better with my career jobs / stay in my current position].
Again, thank you for your time and consideration. I hope that our paths align in the future. Let’s keep in touch via LinkedIn.
All the Best,
If You Don’t Like the Company…
Sometimes, the company is dreadful and you’re utterly relieved to decline the offer.
In this case, don’t make your decline personal. Don’t attack the company. Keep your letter brief. Otherwise, you could be sabotaging your future. If you work in a small industry, it’s likely that you’ll come across the same people again. Don’t get blacklisted by being cute in your decline letter.
Here’s an Example Letter You Can Use:
Thank you for interviewing me last week for the role of team manager. I enjoyed meeting with you and I appreciated how helpful you were during the interview process.
After careful consideration, I’ve decided to [accept another offer / consider other opportunities that may align better with my career jobs / stay in my current position].
Again, thank you for your time and consideration. It’s been my pleasure to meet you and I do wish you the best in your search.
Step Three: Send the Letter ASAP
Don’t leave the company hanging for days or weeks on end. Once you’re sure that you’re not going to accept the job, give them the courtesy of a quick decline. This allows the company to move ahead and hire someone else for the position.
A quick decline is good manners. It shows your professionalism.
Step Four: You Can Send Via Email or Snail Mail
Depending on the company and your established method of communication, you may send your letter via email or through the post. Remember that even if you reject the offer over the phone or face to face, you should still put it in writing, too.
If in doubt, use the same method that the hiring company used to formally offer you the job
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