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How to Decline a Job Offer With a Letter (Like a Professional)

Read Time: 10 mins

If you’ve been on a job hunt for a while, you may find yourself in a situation where you've got more than one job offer. This is a good problem to have. But it also means you’ll have to turn down at least one of those offers. 

Man holding his hand up in a "stop" gesture.Man holding his hand up in a "stop" gesture.Man holding his hand up in a "stop" gesture.
Not every job offer will be the right fit. (Image source: Envato Elements)

You may also have to decline a job offer because it’s not a good fit for many reasons. But how can you do so with grace and without burning down any bridges?

That’s what we’ll cover in this guide. We’ll highlight common reasons why you might need to decline a job offer and offer tips and examples for doing so in a professional manner. 

When to Turn Down a Job Offer

One of the common situations when you might need to turn down a job offer is when you've got multiple offers on the table. But that’s not the only reason for having to say no to a job offer. Here are five other common scenarios when you might need to turn down a job offer:

1. Job Isn't the Right Fit

Sometimes a job description might seem like a great opportunity. But after the interview, you discover that it’s actually not a great fit. This can happen for a number of reasons. 

Image of two people in a job interviewImage of two people in a job interviewImage of two people in a job interview
Sometimes the job just isn't the right fit. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Maybe there are requirements that go beyond your current skill set or maybe the job requires you to relocate without covering the cost. Or maybe, the job requires you to travel a lot and your current situation makes it inconvenient for you to do so. 

Whatever the case may be, if the job isn't the right fit, it makes little sense to accept the offer, only to go back to the job hunt yet again. 

2. Company Culture Isn't the Right Fit

Company culture encompasses a lot of things. It covers not only the goals and values of the company but also the workplace environment and policies. If any of those don’t align with your personal values and goals, you might have a hard time fitting in. 

For example, if you've got a laid back and casual personality, you might not do well in a company with strict policies. Similarly, if you prefer working alone, a company that places great importance on collaboration is more than likely a bad fit. 

As a result, you’ll end up being miserable at your new job. This will be reflected in your work and lead you to start the job search again or worse, get you fired. 

3. No Room for Advancement

Some companies might only need to fill a position temporarily. Or they might have a rule in place that the only way to fill a role is through hiring people rather than advancing employees through the ranks. 

That’s why you should ask about the possibilities for advancing in the company during the interview. If you can’t get a straightforward answer, you might find yourself in that same job role 10 years down the road. For some people, that might work. But if you’re looking to grow in your career, keep this in mind when you’re making your final decision. 

4. Company Offers Inadequate or No Benefits

Another reason why you might need to turn down a job offer is if the company offers inadequate or no benefits. Health, dental, and vision insurance are important for your well-being. Paid time off contributes to your mental health. Similarly, 401K is important for your future when you decide to retire. 

If a company offers only the very basics, you might find yourself paying extra to cover the necessary expenses out of your one pocket. This can significantly impact your budget. 

Imagine a company offers a more generous benefits package along with extra perks such as paid gym membership, on-site child care, telecommuting, and more. If you accept the offer from the company with the added benefits, you’ll end up making more money (which you can use to start a savings fund or an investment fund). 

5. Pay Rate Is Too Low

Last, before you go to an interview, be sure to do some research and see what the general salary or pay rate is for the job you’re applying for. There are even sites you can use to calculate the average salary for a certain positionYou can use these to ensure that you’re getting paid a fair rate as well as to help you navigate the “What’s your ideal salary” question.  

Tips for Declining a Job Offer Politely

Two people in an office setting smiling and talking.Two people in an office setting smiling and talking.Two people in an office setting smiling and talking.
When all else fails, be polite. (Image source: Envato Elements)

If you need to decline a job offer, you need to do it politely. While this isn't easy, it can be done in a way that doesn’t leave a sour taste in the potential employer’s mouth or yours for that matter.

Don’t be tempted to just ignore the offer in the hopes it'll go away on its own. Instead, use these tips to decline a job offer politely and respectfully. 

1. Be Prompt

Once the interview is over, you might reach your decision pretty quickly. Or maybe it'll take you a few days to carefully consider everything. Either way, once you’ve reached your decision, there's no point in delaying. 

So, the first tip is to be prompt in notifying the employer that you won’t be accepting their offer. This frees up their time so they can find a more suitable candidate and move forward in their hiring process. 

2. Show Appreciation

Even though you won’t accept their offer, it’s still good manners to thank them for the opportunity and for considering you. Let the hiring manager know that you appreciate their time and effort and be sure to maintain the attitude of gratitude through your email, letter or phone call. 

3. Keep It Brief

You don’t have to write an elaborate reject offer letter or an email. Keep it short and to the point. Remember, hiring managers go through dozens of resumes and interviews every day so you don’t want to waste their time. 

4. Provide a Reason Without Going Into Specifics

You can provide a reason for not accepting the offer, but you don’t have to go into too many details. As we’ve stated above, keep it brief and to the point. In most cases, you can say that the job wasn’t the right fit or that you’ve accepted another offer. 

5. Offer to Stay in Touch

Finally, if you like the hiring manager and you’d like to stay in touch, offer to do so. This is a good way to build your professional network. You can provide them with additional contact information if you so desire but don’t feel obligated to do so. 

How to Turn Down a Job Offer

Now that we’ve shared tips on how to decline a job offer politely, let’s take a look at five practical examples and templates you can use in various situations: 

1. Decline a Job Offer Over Email or in a Letter

Two people sitting at a desk with one reading a resume or letter.Two people sitting at a desk with one reading a resume or letter.Two people sitting at a desk with one reading a resume or letter.
Declining a job offer in a letter is a polite way to approach the situation. (Image source: Envato Elements)

In some cases, you might need to decline a job offer over the email. If that’s the case, follow the tips mentioned above but do mention you’ve tried to contact them over the phone. Here’s an example that you can use: 

Hi, [First Name},

Thank you again for your time and effort you’ve put into the interview and extending this offer. I was excited to hear back from you with an offer to be your new [job role]. While this is an incredible opportunity and I am honored to have been considered, I have decided that it is not the right fit for my career goals at this time.

I sincerely had a great time talking with you and the team and I wish you the best in your continued success. 

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

2. How to Turn Down a Job Offer Over the Phone

If you need to decline a job offer over the phone, the same tips apply. But there are a few more considerations to keep in mind: 

  • Call at an appropriate time when you know that the person isn't overly busy. You might want to target lunch time or first thing in the morning. It’s likely that they won’t have a lot on their plate during those times than if you call in the middle of the day.  
  • Avoid leaving a voicemail. If the person isn't available, consider leaving a message asking them to call you back. 
  • Although unlikely, be prepared for more questions from the hiring manager. They may want to know more about your decision, so have a few general answers ready for them. 

3. Decline an Offer After Accepting

It’s not unusual to accept the offer and then realize it’s not the best fit. If that happens to you, it’s better to decline the offer before signing an official contract than wait and make the situation worse. Here’s a sample script you can use: 

Hi [First Name], 

Unfortunately, after careful consideration, I regret to inform you that I will have to decline this offer. I’ve realized that [brief reason here]. 

I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Thank you for the time and effort you’ve put into the interview process and for extending me this offer.

I wish you continued success, 

[Your Name]

4. How to Turn Down a Job Offer Due to Salary

As mentioned earlier, salary can be one of the reasons for turning down a job. If it’s lower than what you expected or what you currently make, you can add this to your reject offer letter or email to politely turn down a job offer: 

While this job position is an exciting opportunity, I’m afraid I must decline your offer as the salary doesn’t meet my desired expectations. Thank you for the opportunity and for considering me for the position.

You can use the same script to decline a job offer when the benefits don’t meet your needs or expectations. 

5. Decline a Job When the Company Culture Isn’t the Right Fit

If the company culture isn’t the right fit, you’re better off continuing your search or staying at your current position. In that case, use the following script in your rejection letter to politely turn down the job offer: 

Unfortunately, I decided not to accept the position, as it isn’t the right fit for me at this time.

Or, you can say that the offer doesn’t fit with your career goals at this time. Avoid mentioning specific negatives as this can leave a bad impression on the potential employer and the hiring manager. 

The Best Place for Creative Assets (With Unlimited Use)

No matter what your reason for declining a job offer is, you can send a professional-looking letter to decline a job that explains the reasons and shows your appreciation. The best place to find a template for your letter is Envato Elements. 

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Envato Elements is a subscription-based marketplace with a compelling offer. For a low monthly fee, you can download unlimited Word templates, web templates, stock photos, and more. 

Explore Word Templates

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Envato Elements offers the best value for creatives and any professional that needs premium templates. Plus, with the unlimited downloads, you can experiment with different design styles for all your documents. 

A single monthly subscription to Envato Elements gives you access to every template you need to create professional documents and other designs.

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You can also opt to source templates from GraphicRiver as well, where you can find a variety of options for Word, Google, and more. 

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Turn Down a Job Offer Letter With Grace and Professionalism

Turning down a job offer isn't easy, but you can do so with grace and professionalism. With the tips shared in this article, you’ll be able to write a turn down a job offer letter without burning down any bridges.

And if you need a Word letterhead template for your decline the job offer letter, stop  by Envato Elements to find what you need. 

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