If you’re looking for how to decline a job offer, then you’re in the right place. Turning down an offer can be intimidating, but it’s an entirely normal part of job searching… whether you’re joining another company or just didn’t feel their position fits your career goals. And employers will understand… as long as you handle it professionally. In fact, you can even decline a job offer and keep the door open with that employer for future opportunities (but you need to deliver your message in the right way!)
So in this article, I’m going to give you 7 steps for turning down a job, and 4 example emails you can copy and send.
Let’s get started…
How to Turn Down a Job Offer in 7 Steps
- Contact the person who informed you they were offering you the job (usually HR or a hiring manager)
- Tell them, “thank you very much for offering me the opportunity.” You always want to show gratitude first.
- Tell them that unfortunately, you won’t be able to accept their offer, and that you decided to go in a different direction.
- If you’re accepting another offer instead, you can tell them that another opportunity came up that you felt was a slightly better fit for you right now. However, you’re not obligated to inform them of this.
- If you’re declining for another reason, you can inform them of the reason, but it is not required. This is your decision.
- Conclude by thanking them again for their time and wishing them luck in finding the right person for their job. Express gratitude and appreciation for the opportunity they gave. Tell them you appreciate the time they spent interviewing you
- Never badmouth the company. It’s okay to reject a job because you had a bad experience with the employer, but it’s best just to let it go. Decline it and move on.
Next, we’re going to look at 4 samples of how to reject a position without burning any bridges.
We’ll look at examples of how to tell the employer you’re accepting another offer, and examples of how to decline the job without telling them the reason. (You don’t need to share a specific reason for declining. That’s up to you.)
4 Example Emails for Turning Down a Job Offer
Example Email/Letter 1:
Thank you so much for offering me the <Job Title> position.
After careful consideration, I have decided to accept a different position and won’t be able to accept this offer.
I appreciate the time spent interviewing me and introducing me to your organization throughout this process, and <Company Name> sounds like a fantastic company.
It was a difficult decision, and I wish you success in finding the right person for your role.
Thank you again for your time.
You always want to show gratitude for an offer before responding with any requests or final decisions. So this sample email includes that in the first line. Of course, if you already thanked them for the offer and have taken a few days to think, you don’t need to thank them again when you follow up. You can simply deliver the news and inform them that you decided to turn down the offer.
So the next few sample emails get to the point faster.
Example Email/Letter 2:
I hope you’re doing well.
I’m circling back regarding the <Job Title> job offer.
Unfortunately, I have decided to pursue another opportunity rather than accept this offer.
I appreciate the time you and your team spent meeting with me and putting together this offer, and I wish you luck in finding the right person for the job.
This email is a way to turn down their offer politely without naming the reason. You can simply say you’ve chosen to pursue a different opportunity or direction. Whereas, in the first sample email above this, we shared a more specific reason – the fact that we “have decided to accept a different position.” So you can decide how much or how little to share. Sometimes you’ll reject a position even if you haven’t accepted another offer yet, so you can use this template in those cases.
Now let’s look at two more rejection letter examples…
Sample Email/Letter 3:
I hope all is well.
I wanted to follow up regarding the <Job Title> position, as I’ve come to a decision.
Unfortunately, I have decided to pursue a different opportunity and must decline this offer.
I wish you luck in finding the right person for this role, and I appreciate the time and effort that you spent interviewing me and extending me this offer.
Thank you very much for the opportunity.
This email example is very similar to the previous example. However, the wording is slightly stronger and more formal. You can choose what type of wording and level of formality you want. We’ll talk more about customizing these email templates in the next section. First, one more example…
Sample Email/Letter 4:
I wanted to follow up regarding the <Job Title> position.
Thank you very much for the opportunity. However, I was offered another opportunity that I feel is a slightly better fit for my career goals, and I’ve decided to accept it instead.
This was not an easy decision, and I hope you and your team are successful in finding the right person for your role.
Thank you again for the opportunity; I appreciate your time and effort throughout this process.
This last rejection letter template includes a bit more detail than those above it. If you had a really great experience interviewing with a certain company or hiring manager, it can be a nice touch to tell them that this was a very tough decision and you appreciate them. Never feel pressure to include this level of detail when you turn down a company’s offer, but it’s an option available to you and can help you keep the door open with that hiring manager in the future. If something stood out to you while getting to know them – like their great work culture, their professionalism and kindness, etc. – it’s nice to tell them you appreciate this.
How to Turn Down a Job Offer but Keep the Door Open
It’s possible to tell a recruiter or company that you accepted another offer but still keep the door open with the company. The best way to turn down a job offer but keep the door open with a company is to explain briefly that you chose a position with another company because it was a slightly better match for your current career situation/goals, but then emphasize that this was a difficult decision, and that you enjoyed the interviewing/hiring process with this company and that their organization seems excellent. Say clearly that you would appreciate the opportunity to stay in touch in case another relevant job opens up in the future. This shows a potential employer that you’re thinking ahead and planning long-term in your career, and will give you the best chance at building a professional relationship with the recruiter or hiring manager that you’ve been in contact with. Most companies will love to see this in a job seeker, since many other job seekers have a more transactional focus and simply want to find one job quickly and then forget all other potential job offers. The fact that you obtained multiple job offers and then politely turned down one job offer while keeping the door open and communicating professionally will likely earn you the respect of many potential employers.
Note that if you tell another company that you accepted another offer from a direct competitor, they may take the news a bit less favorably. However, the other company should still understand that you made an informed decision that’s best for your career.
How to Tell a Recruiter You Accepted Another Offer
If you’re talking to a recruiter and have pending applications or job interviews in process, it’s important to tell them quickly if you’ve accepted another offer. Once you’re sure you’re accepting another position, send the recruiter an email message and tell them that you’ve decided to accept another job. Now, in this current job market, where companies are struggling to find great candidates, this recruiter will likely call you. They’ll ask, “who is this new employer?” and “what is the role?” Keep your calm, explain that you’ve made a careful, informed decision, and they should understand. The most critical step in telling a recruiter you accepted another job offer is to inform them promptly, so they can inform the rest of the hiring team. If you provide that professional courtesy, you’ll be able to keep a relationship with this recruiter and keep the door open to hear about new opportunities in the future.
A Brief Statement Beats a Detailed Explanation
When you tell a job you accepted another offer, there’s no need to provide every detail about the other job offer. You can simply say you felt it was a slightly better fit for your current career goals. That’ll be more helpful in ending the hiring process on a positive note and allowing you to be considered by this same company for future jobs. So when you turn down an existing offer and tell the company you’re going elsewhere, don’t say, “This other company offers amazing perks, and the team sounds wonderful, and I really like all of the job duties, and they provide more benefits, too.” While that may seem like you’re providing useful feedback to this potential employer, it’s usually just going to be received negatively. A recruiter or hiring manager will rarely want that amount of detail, and if they do want to know more, they can ask.
Declining a Job Offer After Accepting It
If you accepted a job offer but then found a better job, you may decide to decline your offer after accepting. You won’t be able to turn down this job offer and keep the door open at this company; it will burn a bridge with this employer. But sometimes, if another opportunity is too great to pass up, rejecting a job offer that you previously accepted still makes sense.
Below, I’ll share a sample letter/email for declining a job offer after accepting it. However, I highly recommend you use these as a phone script and make a live call to the hiring manager to inform them of your decision. It’s the right thing to do after spending so much time with this employer and going all the way to the job offer process and accepting.
Sample Letter/Script for Declining a Job Offer After Accepting
Dear <HIRING MANAGER’S NAME>,
I sincerely apologize, but I’m not going to be able to take the job offer that I previously accepted.
I’ve been given another opportunity that I simply cannot turn down.
I apologize for the change in decision and for any inconvenience caused. I know it’s unusual and difficult when a candidate declines a job offer after previously accepting.
If I come across somebody in my network who would be a good fit for the role, I’ll point them in your direction.
Thank you again for your time throughout this process. I wish you the best moving forward.
Warning: The Decision to Turn Down a Job Offer After Accepting is Permanent
Turning down a job is almost always permanent and irreversible. You can keep the door open with the company in the future, but they’re going to find someone else for this particular opportunity.
And this is especially true any time you turn down a job offer after you’ve given your acceptance. You can be almost certain that the opportunity will be gone permanently when you decline a job offer in this scenario. Even if they don’t have a second candidate in mind right away, they’re not going to consider you again after you decline a job offer in this situation.
There’s no such thing as backing out of a job you’ve accepted, rejecting the offer, and then keeping the door open. So be certain that the new opportunity you’re going to pursue is finalized before you decline the other job. Sign the paperwork. Get a start date for the position.
Don’t reject your previous job offer until you’re 100% certain that the new job offer and opportunity are yours.
That said, don’t let this warning discourage you from doing what’s best for your career and job search.
There are times when you may be looking at an opportunity from your dream company, and the offer simply came in later than the first offer you accepted. This has happened to me personally, and I did go to that new company.
So in certain cases, you should decline your offer from the first firm and take the dream opportunity.
I just want you to understand that any time you reject the job offer after taking up so much of a company’s time throughout the interview process, it’s going to be a permanent choice and it’s unlikely that the hiring manager will leave the door open with their company in the future.
Email vs. Phone for Declining a Job Offer
If you’ve been speaking with the hiring manager on the phone, they’ll respect you a lot more for calling them when you turn down their job.
An average message delivered over the phone will often earn you more respect than a perfectly-worded email declining the job. So keep that in mind.
However, the choice is yours. And the examples of how to reject a job earlier in this article will work for both phone and email.
When to Tell the Employer You’re Declining Their Offer
You should inform an employer as soon as you’re sure about your decision. However, you shouldn’t rush yourself. For example, if you’re waiting for news from another employer or would like to discuss the decision with your family for a few days, that’s entirely normal and you should ask for the time you need (within reason).
An employer should understand that choosing to accept or reject their position is a huge decision.
And just like they took their time interviewing candidates and choosing who should receive a job offer, you need time to determine if their company is the right fit, too.
And if you’re declining a job offer to accept another one, be 100% sure that the other offer is finalized before you turn down the other offer. Sign the physical papers, fill out your tax paperwork, etc. Everything.
Here’s a LinkedIn comment showing what can go wrong if you reject one offer without being 100% sure about the other one:
Next, I’ll share a couple of examples of how to ask for additional time to consider your decision. You should NEVER accept a position on-the-spot. So get comfortable using the scripts below to thank them for their offer and ask for some time to review everything at home.
You can either ask for a certain amount of time, like this:
“Thank you so much. I’m very excited about the opportunity. Can I inform you of my decision on Monday? I like to weigh important decisions like this carefully and discuss them with my family.”
Or you can ask when they’d need an answer:
“Thank you so much. I’m thrilled about the offer. I always weigh important decisions like this carefully and discuss them with my family, though. When do you need my decision?”
Conclusion: How to Reject a Job Offer Politely and Professionally
If you follow the steps and rejection letter examples above, you’ll be able to politely turn down a job offer without ever burning bridges. You’ll also keep the door open for future opportunities at that employer… in case they have another opportunity that’s the right fit in the coming months.
Just make sure you’re 100% certain of your decision before delivering the news.
If you’re going to reject one job offer to accept a different role, be certain that everything is finalized for that other position (start date, paperwork, etc.) Declining a job offer is usually final and the employer will quickly move on to other candidates after hearing the news.