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Last Updated on July 16, 2020

How to Decline a Job Offer Gracefully (With Email Examples)

How to Decline a Job Offer Gracefully (With Email Examples)

Generally, if you’re in a position to decline a job offer, it’s a high-quality problem. Maybe you were offered a better position at a different company, or perhaps you were offered the same position at a different organization but for better pay (or perks). Or maybe, after sitting down and discussing the offer with your family, you decided that the travel requirements were too intense. Perhaps the company where you currently work agreed to match the new offer, and once you examined the pros and cons, you realized it made more sense to stay.

Whatever the reason[1], your charge now is knowing how to decline a job offer gracefully. As a courtesy to the company who extended you the job offer, you want to decline quickly, giving the hiring manager a chance to make the offer to the candidate who was the runner-up for the job. You also want to express your appreciation. And, given today’s rocky economy, it makes sense to politely decline the job offer in a way that will hopefully keep the door open for you should your circumstances change.

If you’re not sure how to decline a job offer, check out the following tips to get through it.

3 Ways to Decline a Job Offer Gracefully (With Examples)

1. Show Gratitude

The hiring manager likely spent several hours on your job application—between reading your cover letter, reviewing your resume, and interviewing you either in person or via a videoconferencing platform. Recruitment is a long and sometimes tedious process for any employer. There is always competition for every open job, and the hiring manager may have pushed your candidacy over others in the queue.

For these reasons, your note needs to express thoughtfulness and genuine appreciation. That said, it needn’t be lengthy.

The following example is concise and expresses gratitude in several ways, providing a good example for how you can decline a job offer gracefully:

Subject Line: Job Offer – [Your Name]

Dear Mr./Ms. ________[Hiring manager’s last name],

Thank you for offering me the position of _______ [job title] with _________ [company name]. I greatly appreciate the vote of confidence that comes with your offer. However, after carefully considering the opportunities for career advancement, I have decided to stay where I am.

I sincerely thank you for the time and consideration you devoted to my application, interview, and follow-up. I appreciate your graciousness and consummate professionalism throughout.

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I wish you success in all the company’s undertakings that you outlined. Thank you again for extending the opportunity to work with you.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

2. Give a Reason, but Don’t Elaborate

If you had several interviews at the company, then saying why you are turning down the offer shows respect and professional courtesy. It’s fine to say that you took a different job offer, decided to stay at your company, or even felt that the salary was not sufficient. The trick is to say it succinctly.

The following example does just that:

Subject Line: Job Offer – [Your Name]

Dear Mr./Ms. _______ [Hiring manager’s name],

I greatly appreciate your offer of the position of _______ [job title]. I was very impressed with you and the staff members who interviewed me, as well as the direction of the company. I regret, however, that I must decline your offer due to the salary offered.

I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to have met you and your team and to learn about your company. Again, I am grateful for the positive interviewing experience with your company and for the job offer.

I wish great success with your plans to move forward.

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Best regards,

[Your name]

3. Offer to Stay in Touch

This technique isn’t for everyone, but if you felt a strong connection with the person who interviewed you, or if you could see yourself working at the company in a few years, it might make sense to offer to keep in touch.

Remember that hiring managers switch companies, too, and it’s always a good idea to have a hiring manager think well of you!

The following example includes an offer to stay in touch in a gentle way:

Subject Line: Job Offer – [Your Name]

Dear Mr./Ms. ________[Hiring manager’s name],

I am writing to personally thank you for offering me the position of ________ [job title] at _______[company name]. I enjoyed meeting you and having a chance to meet the other members of the team. It was an extremely difficult decision for me, but I have accepted a position at another company.

I genuinely appreciate the time you devoted to interviewing me and to sharing your insights on the direction of the company. I hope we might stay in touch as I value your visionary ideas about our industry’s future.

Again, thank you for your time and consideration, and I wish you all the best for your continued success.

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Respectfully,

[Your name]

Should You Hold out for Your Dream Job?

If you interviewed with two companies, and your dream company is dragging out its decision while your second choice company has made you an offer, what’s the best direction to take? As long as the job offer from your second choice company is in keeping with your goals for upward mobility, added responsibility, and increased salary, you are better off accepting the extended offer for two reasons.

First, the reason the dream company is prolonging the process may be because it has made an offer to another and is negotiating with another candidate. Second, if you accept another offer and withdraw your candidacy from the dream company, the hiring manager will note your desirability to another (possibly competing) employer and may try to recruit you in the future.

It is the epitome of poor form to decline a job after accepting it, even if your dream company finally comes through with an offer. This puts the company that made the original offer in a huge bind, particularly if it has already sent rejections to its other candidates and is taking steps for on-boarding you. This could make you a pariah at the company, and in any industry, news travels fast and far.

The Best Medium for Declining a Job Offer

Should you send your response via email? Or pick up the telephone and call the hiring manager? The most professional response is to use the same method they used to extend you the offer. If they offered you the job via email, then feel free to email your reply. If they called you or left a voicemail message, then picking up the telephone is the preferred method. Do your best to call during business hours.

To be as poised as possible, you may want to write out your rejection and practice saying it a few times. Time it to make sure it does not exceed 30 seconds. (Even if you leave a voicemail, you may need to also write them an email for their records.)

If the hiring manager wants to chat further, don’t give the impression that you want to quickly end the call. Give the conversation your full attention to let the employer know that you value the relationship that you have built. It’s important not to burn bridges if you should decide to apply at the company again in the future—or at another company where the manager happens to transfer to. Remain discreet, but converse with decorum if the other party wants to prolong the conversation.

Dotting I’s and Crossing T’s

Always include your contact information, including your phone number, although the company already has it. Double check your communication for typos. If you know a candidate that you believe would be a perfect fit for the job, you may want to mention it. (First make sure he or she really wants the job, though. Reach out to them before suggesting their name.)

Be sure to send your email within normal business hours. Remember that you are not trying to avoid the hiring manager—you’re opening up a line of communication with her or him that you may well use again down the road.

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When They Go Low, You Go High

Granted, not every potential employer has a winning personality. You may have decided well before the offer was extended that this was not a person with whom you wished to work. Or, the company culture[2] may have felt like it would not be a good fit, and you’ve since corroborated the incompatible impression with people in your network.

Whatever gut feelings signaled to you that you needed to turn down an offer, don’t include or even allude to them in your rejection letter[3]. Stating that the position is not the right fit for you and your career is all that you need to disclose.

This final example is for when you prefer not to disclose the reason for your rejection, and you’re looking for a kind, concise way of turning down the job:

Subject Line: Job Offer – [Your Name]

Dear Mr./Ms. ________[Hiring manager’s name],

I genuinely appreciate your taking the time to interview me and the consideration you gave me as a job candidate. I have, however, decided to decline your offer of the ______ [job title], as I have come to realize that the position is not the right fit for me at this time.

I wish you well in your search for the best-suited candidate.

Cordially,

[Your name]

Final Thoughts

Learning how to decline a job offer politely and professionally will keep you in good graces with the prospective employer and help the person better accept your rejection. Let the person know that your change of heart in pursuing a new job isn’t personal, and that you found the experience rewarding.

When you show gratitude and let the hiring manager know that the time and effort invested in you is appreciated, you continue to strengthen your professional standing.

More on How to Decline a Job Offer

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Vicky Oliver

Author of 6 best-selling books on job-hunting and job interview questions, business etiquette, frugalista style, advertising, and office politics.

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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