How to Professionally Decline a Job Offer

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated August 8, 2022 | Published August 25, 2020

Updated August 8, 2022

Published August 25, 2020

Related: What to Consider Before Accepting a Job Offer: Everything You Need to Know!

From salary expectations to company culture, this video covers what you should consider before taking the next step in your career journey.

When you receive a job offer, you need to consider many factors, like the salary, benefits and start date. In some cases, you might decide that the job doesn't fit your needs or requirements though you originally applied hoping it would. Learning how to decline a job offer can help you maintain a professional relationship with the employer if you want to contact them in the future. In this article, we outline how to decline a job offer in a positive way.

Read more: Assessing a Job Offer

Why decline a job offer?

You might decline a job offer for various reasons, including an unfavourable salary, benefits or company culture. If you have been applying for multiple positions, you may also have gotten an offer from another organization. If you feel like a position isn't the right fit for you, it's appropriate to let the hiring manager know as soon as possible so they can hire another candidate.

How to decline a job offer

If you need to decline a job offer, you can take certain steps to be courteous and professional. It's helpful to maintain a connection with the employer in the event that you want to work for them in the future.

Follow these guidelines for declining a job offer:

  1. Be timely

  2. Choose your communication method wisely

  3. Provide a reason

  4. Be appreciative

  5. Leave open the possibility of other opportunities

  6. Recommend someone else for the role

1. Be timely

One of the most important things to do when declining a job offer is to do so promptly. The employer likely has a backup option should you say no, and allowing them time to reach out to other candidates is beneficial for both parties. If the employer gives you a timeframe for when they expect an answer, be sure to decline the job offer well within that window.

Providing an answer on time not only shows how serious you are but also portrays you as a professional. This can be beneficial if the employer has another open position in the future that you want to apply for.

Related: How to Politely Decline Workplace Requests (With Examples)

2. Choose your communication method wisely

How you communicate with the hiring manager is important. When declining a job offer, it's best to relay the information over the phone, if possible. This way, the hiring manager can hear your sincerity and genuine appreciation that they took time out of their schedule to meet with you. In some cases, you might need to call the HR manager instead of the interviewer. If this is the case, always make sure to send an email to the hiring manager as well, thanking them for their time.

If you are not able to reach the hiring manager over the phone to decline the job offer, leave a voicemail. Once you have done this, follow up with an email, as this will ensure they receive your message promptly on whatever mode of communication they prefer. You can be direct in your voicemail and go into more detail through the email as to why you are not accepting the role.

The following is an example of a follow-up email:

Dear Susan Smith,

I have left you a voicemail but wanted to follow up via email to ensure you received my answer on time. I want to thank you for taking the time out of your day to interview me. I very much appreciated being shown around the office and meeting members of the team.

Unfortunately, I'm going to have to decline the job offer at this time. It is a difficult decision to make, but as mentioned in my interview, the salary I'm looking for is slightly higher than what you are offering. I hope that you keep me in mind for future positions that are more in line with what I'm looking for.

Thank you again,
John Roberts

During the interview, feel free to ask the hiring manager what their preferred communication method is. Sometimes if the person is busy, they will ask you to email instead of call.

Related:

  • How To Write a Job Offer Thank You Letter (With Examples)

  • How to Write a Job Rejection Letter Professionally

3. Provide a reason

You should provide a brief but honest reason for declining a job offer. Many companies look for constructive feedback when a candidate declines their job offer, so providing a valid reason for not accepting the offer can help them improve their hiring methods or their business practices.

It also allows the company to counter-offer. If it is something simple like the salary is too low, perhaps they will reconsider and offer you more money. They could also offer additional benefits like more vacation time, work-from-home days or a better benefits package. The following are some examples of ways to decline a job offer politely:

  • "While I would love to work for your company, unfortunately, the salary your company is offering does not meet my expectations."

  • "I have given it much thought, but work-life balance is crucial to me, and I'm looking for a role that will provide me with the amount of time off I need to recharge and be a better employee."

  • "The role sounds perfect, but ultimately I'm looking for a position with a little bit more flexibility in being able to work from home occasionally."

Related: Questions To Ask Before Accepting a Job (With Benefits)

4. Be appreciative

The hiring process involves several stages, so it can take a long time for an employer to find the right candidate. There are dozens of resumes to read through, social media accounts to research, interviews to conduct and contracts to draft and negotiate.

If you are declining a job offer, be sure to thank the human resources or hiring manager for their time. They likely put in many hours getting to the point of offering you a position and having you reject the offer means they may have to start part or all of the process again.

Using sincere and heartfelt language will leave a positive impression on the hiring manager. Try saying things like:

  • "Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me and answer all of the questions I had about the customer service representative role. I learned a lot about your company and how the team functions together, which was incredibly helpful in understanding the full scope of the position."

  • "I wanted to thank you again for spending time to meet with me last week for the marketing specialist role. It was fascinating getting to see your office space and meeting some members of the team."

5. Leave open the possibility of other opportunities

As you progress in your career, you might encounter the same professionals in your field. This is especially true if you work in the same city your whole career. Therefore, you always want to leave the interview on a positive note since you may find yourself interviewing with the same hiring manager again in the future.

If you are declining a job interview, it's essential to keep the potential open for future jobs. Show interest in future opportunities should they arrive by using statements like:

  • "I enjoyed getting to know you and the company and would love to be kept in mind for future opportunities."

  • "It was a pleasure getting to know you and learning more about the company. I would appreciate staying in touch should there be another position more suited to what I'm looking for."

Read more: How to Turn Down a Job Offer But Keep the Door Open

6. Recommend someone else for the job

If you decide to decline a job offer, the hiring manager will appreciate you recommending someone else for the role. If you do this, be sure to discuss this with the person you're thinking of ahead of time. If the hiring manager shows interest in the referral, be sure to send your contact's resume. It is also a good idea to make the connection. Consider sending an email to both parties as an introduction so they have each other's email addresses and can continue the conversation on their own.

This method shows the hiring manager that you appreciate their time through the interviewing process. It might also help to keep the possibility of future employment open between you and the hiring manager. Make sure you only recommend someone that you trust and genuinely think will be a good fit for the role.

Here's how you can recommend another person for the role:

"If you need a recommendation, I would suggest contacting Nari Patel. I mentored her when she first started at Gforce, and I believe her qualifications match your needs and salary range. I can provide her email address and resume if you're interested."

Related: How To Refer Someone for a Job

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