How to Decline a Job Offer

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Frank Hackett

Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW)

Frank Hackett is a professional resume writer and career consultant with over eight years of experience. As the lead editor at a boutique career consulting firm, Frank developed an innovative approach to resume writing that empowers job seekers to tell their professional stories. His approach involves creating accomplishment-driven documents that balance keyword optimization with personal branding. Frank is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) with the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches (PAWRCC).

During the job search, it’s common for candidates to interview for multiple positions at the same time. Once you receive a job offer, you may find the compensation is lower than what you were expecting or a more lucrative opportunity has recently become available. Declining a job offer is never a pleasant experience, but it’s important to do so in a polite and professional manner to ensure that your industry reputation remains intact. In our guide, we’ll evaluate when you should decline a job offer and how to respond politely if you turn down an opportunity.

When Should You Decline a Job Offer?

Although the answer is largely contingent on your personal circumstances, there are many things to consider when deciding whether to accept or reject a job offer. It is generally not a good idea to take an organization’s reviews on a site such as Glassdoor at face value. But if you notice hundreds of negative reviews and high turnover rates, this could be a red flag that the employer has a toxic work culture. If the compensation is a major pay cut from your previous role and doesn’t meet industry standards, you may also choose to decline the offer to pursue more competitive opportunities with higher upward mobility. Ultimately, it is important to ensure that you’re willing to commit to a company for at least one to two years, so carefully consider every variable before signing your offer letter.

How Soon Should You Decline a Job Offer?

It’s important to decline a job offer as soon as possible to allow the organization to pursue other candidates for the role. Most companies will expect a response within 48 hours, so you need to communicate with the hiring manager if you need more time to consider. This can be especially challenging if you’re in talks with another company and haven’t received an offer yet, as you may risk losing the current offer by waiting. That being said, you want to be considerate of the company’s time, and it’s wise to reach a decision before the end of the week at the latest.

Provide a Clear Reason for Declining

When declining a job offer, you should be clear about why you’re rejecting the opportunity. There are many reasons to turn down an offer. Sometimes the position simply doesn’t pay enough or isn’t aligned with your long-term career goals. Providing the hiring manager with insights into your decision-making process is important for rejecting an offer professionally. Keep in mind that the company has already invested time into evaluating you as a candidate, and that providing a clear reason for declining can help to avoid negatively impacting your industry reputation.

How to Decline a Job Offer for Salary Reasons

Declining a job offer based on salary can have one of two results. In the best case scenario, the company will readjust their offer to arrive closer to your desired compensation. If the organization can’t offer a higher amount, you’ll need to move on to the next opportunity. By declining in a polite and direct manner, you’ll have a much better chance of improving your compensation package. But keep in mind it’s best to only use this tactic if you’re comfortable with walking away from the job offer altogether. Here is an email sample for declining a job offer based on salary reasons:

Hello Ms. Rachel Johnson, 

First, I wanted to thank you for your time throughout the interview process. I greatly enjoyed our conversation and learning about your unique energy saving products. While I think that you have a great work culture in place, unfortunately I must decline the job offer at this time. 

The compensation package that you offered doesn’t meet my current financial needs and I’m currently interviewing for a position with a higher base salary and commission rate. I am confident you’ll find the right Account Executive in the near future and I’m open to working with Clean Energy Results Inc. should another opportunity arise. Thank you again for your time and understanding. 

Sincerely,

Selena Ramirez

How to Decline a Job Offer After Accepting Another Position

When you’re interviewing for multiple positions concurrently, one company may strike first and make you an offer before the other. If you’ve already accepted a position, respond as promptly as possible. Keep in mind that things can change at this phase of the hiring process, and if something were to happen to the offer you accepted, being polite in this email may provide you with an avenue to engage with the organization you rejected. See our email example for declining a job offer after you’ve already accepted a position:

Hello Mr. Hector Santos, 

I wanted to first thank you for your time and consideration throughout the interview process. I greatly enjoyed speaking with you and learning more about your financial firm. 

With regret, I need to decline your generous job offer at this time, as I’ve already accepted a financial analyst position with another company.

Desmond Financial has a strong work culture and reputation within the industry, and I have no doubt that you’ll find the right candidate. Would you be interested in staying in contact on LinkedIn? I’m very open to pursuing a different opportunity with your company in the future.

Sincerely,

Raheem Richardson

How to Decline a Job Offer You Already Accepted

As a general rule,  avoid declining a job offer you’ve accepted unless you have no other recourse. This is why it’s very important to consider all aspects of the job opportunity before signing your acceptance letter, as you are making a commitment to the company even with an at-will contract. Not only will this impact future opportunities with the organization, it may also negatively affect your reputation within your industry. That being said, things happen in life that are sometimes out of your control. If you need to decline an offer you accepted, do so as quickly as possible so that the company can resume interviewing other candidates. Below, you’ll find an email example for declining a job offer you’ve accepted:

Hello Ms. Meiling Li, 

When I accepted the job offer for the digital marketing position with Advanced Brand Solutions last week, I was extremely excited for the opportunity to work with your organization. With great regret, I feel that I must retract my acceptance at this time, as upon further consideration, I don’t feel that this position is the right match for my long-term career objectives. 

I greatly appreciate your time and consideration throughout the interview process. Your marketing team has a great culture in place, and I have no doubt that you’ll find the right candidate. I would love to stay in contact if another opportunity opens up in the future. Thank you for your time and understanding. 

Sincerely,

Kevin Morrison