How to politely decline a job opportunity from a recruiter

Getting a job offer is always a nice feeling. But if the hiring process showed you that the role doesnt suit your desired career path or its just not a place youd like to work, you

How to politely decline a job opportunity from a recruiter

Getting a job offer is always a nice feeling. But if the hiring process showed you that the role doesnt suit your desired career path or its just not a place youd like to work, youre best off turning down the job offer.

Were going to show you how to professionally and gracefully decline a job offer, step by step. Well also provide example emails for the most common situations and reasons for rejecting a job offer.

how to decline a job offer

How to Turn Down a Job Offer

Declining a job offer will look a little different depending on your situation, but some advice holds true across the board:

Be certain. Once you tell a recruiter or hiring manager that youre not interested, theres no going back.

An employer is unlikely to hire you (for that position) after you send a rejection email, and a recruiter might not be as enthusiastic about working with you if you change your mind so easily.

Ask yourself why youre not interested in the job. If its an unattractive (but necessary) stepping stone to broader career goals, consider taking it  especially if the company seems like a place you could enjoy long-term.

Were not trying to talk you out of it  just be 100% sure (or at least 95%+) that you dont want the job before you send that rejection email.

  1. Respond quickly. Its tough to balance our first tip with this one, but you should try to get back to the employer or recruiter as quickly as possible. Theyll usually give you a window of time in which to respond  err on the early side of that window for the sake of professionalism.
  2. Email or call. A rejection email is perfectly fine in almost every scenario, but if youre a phone person or you really enjoyed speaking with the interviewer, feel free to call. Calling may help you stand out for opportunities down the road, if youre still interested in the company.
  3. Express gratitude. The interview process takes time and effort; show that youre grateful for being chosen for the job. You obviously left a good impression during and after the interview  maintain it.

Provide a reason. Dont get too carried away with your reason. Theres no need to add insult to injury and say you felt the hiring manager was a jerk or that the work environment seemed horrible.

Stick to good old the job didnt align with my career goals when in doubt. Or let them know you accepted another job offer or decided to stay at your current job.

  1. Dont ramble. Its natural to feel a little guilty and go over-the-top with compliments to try to make the hiring manager feel better  resist the urge. Get to the point and let them know the important information in a clear and succint way.
  2. Offer to stay in touch. Well, if you really hated the company, maybe dont use this tip. But if you got along with one of your interviewers or someone you met during the interview process, offer to stay in touch. Weirdly enough, a well written rejection email can help build your network.

Other than that, keep your email grammatically correct and error-free, as with all professional correspondence. Now lets look at specific example emails for different scenarios.

Example Email: How To Decline a Job Offer Because the Jobs a Bad Fit

If you liked the company, but the position wouldnt give you the opportunity to apply your strengths and grow your skill set, you could mention that you were impressed with the company, but didnt feel as though the position is the best fit for you.

Mention the major skill sets that youd like to put to use, the level of responsibility that youd like to take on, or other aspects of your dream job that wouldnt be included in the position you were offered.

For example, if the job you were offered involved working in an office at a renewable energy company, you could mention that youre more interested in a position that involves working hands-on in the field that would ultimately lead to a technician role.

Dear Mr. Captain Planet,

Thank you for offering me the position of Office Assistant with Carolina Solar Services. I appreciate you taking the time to consider me for the role and for answering my questions about the company and the position.

After much consideration, I will not be accepting the position as it does not fit the path I am taking to achieve my career goals.

I am currently seeking a position that would allow me to directly employ my knowledge of solar energy in the field so that I can reach my career goal of being a solar technician. If a position of this nature becomes available in the future, I would appreciate being considered for it.

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

Best regards,

Captain America

Mentioning that you liked the company but are looking for a role that follows your career path a little more closely may open doors for other jobs within the company in the future.

Example Email: How To Decline a Job Offer Because You Dont Like the Company

Whether the boss seemed like a jerk, the company had an unappealing culture, you didnt agree with their values, or any other reason you have for not wanting to work with them  if you dont feel that the company is a good fit for you, thats a valid reason for turning down a job offer.

On the other hand, you should definitely avoid mentioning in your rejection letter that you dont want to take the job because of the interviewers breath  you dont want to burn any bridges here.

Unless the interviewer asked you a bunch of overly personal or illegal interview questions, its better to not show any dissatisfaction or offer any criticism of the company.

You never know whose path you might cross in the future. You should always express your thanks for the opportunity and give your reasoning for declining in a professional manner.

Dear Mr. Shrek Ogre,

Thank you again for taking the time to interview me last week, it was great to meet the team and learn about the company. I enjoyed learning about the Swamp Cleaner position, and I appreciate your generous offer.

While this position seems like a great opportunity, I have decided that now is not the best time to leave my current position.

Once again, I would like to express my gratitude for the offer and my regrets that it did not work out. Thank you for your time and I wish you the best in finding another candidate to fill the position.

Best regards,

Hank Hill

Example Email: How To Decline a Job Offer Due to Salary

If the company is appealing and the position is everything that youre looking for, but the salary wouldnt leave you enough money to eat after paying rent, you might want to address this in your response.

Salary requirements are usually addressed at some point in the hiring process, but if your negotiation attempts fail to avail you, you could address this in your response to the job offer.

Make sure to convey your gratitude and reiterate your excitement for the position, but state that you need to decline because the salary does not meet your needs.

Dear Mr. Cheap Bastard,

I would like to thank you again for taking the time to meet with me last week. It was great to meet the team and learn more about the Money Counter position, and I appreciate the offer to join your team.

Although I am very grateful for this opportunity and would be very excited to join your company, I have to decline your offer, as the salary does not meet my needs. According to my research, the typical salary range for someone in this position is between $35,000 and $40,000.

If you feel that you would be willing to accommodate my salary requirements, I would greatly appreciate it and would love the opportunity to work with your company. Again, thank you for your time and support.

Best regards,

A Poor Person

And thats how you reject a job offer because of salary! If youre successful, an employer will respond to you with a better offer once they see that youre willing to leave their offer behind.

Example Email: How To Decline a Job Offer After Accepting Another Job

If youre in the lucky position of having to wade through multiple job offers, then youre also in the unlucky position of having to turn at least one down.

Even though this is a tough spot to be in, its a good problem to have. As with the other scenarios for turning down a job offer, remember to show your appreciation and thank the employers for their time and for the opportunity.

Dear Mr. Fox Mulder,

Thank you so much for the offer for the role of Junior Alien Hunter. I really appreciate you taking the time to consider me and for answering my questions about the company and the position.

While this role is a great opportunity, I have decided to pursue another position that will offer me more opportunities to achieve my ultimate career goals.

It has been a pleasure getting to know you, and I hope that we cross paths in the future.

Best regards,

Dana Scully

Example Email: How To Decline a Job Offer to Stay With Current Employer

Whether your current employer decided to give you a promotion or you just realized that your boss aint so bad after meeting a few other people during your job search, its perfectly okay to stay with your current employer instead of accepting a job offer.

In fact, being satisfied with your current job is the ultimate leverage in a job search. Heres an example email for when you decide to decline a job offer to stay with your current employer:

Dear Mr. Mario,

Thank you so much for the offer for the role of Associate Plumber. I really appreciate you taking the time to consider me and for answering my questions about your companys proud history and what my role would be.

While this position sounds enticing, Ive decided to stay with my current company.

It was great meeting you, and I wish you the best with your business.

Sincerely,

Wario

How to Politely Decline a Job Offer FAQ

What is the best reason to reject a job offer?

The best reason to reject a job offer is that you dont feel excited about the role or that it doesnt align with your career goals. While hiring managers might be a bit salty that you didnt come to that realization earlier in the process, theyll appreciate that youre not wasting any more of their time by signing up for a job youre not truly interested in.

Other good reasons to reject a job offer include salary, you received a different job offer, or your current job promoted you. There are plenty of other good and valid reasons to reject a job offer, but these are the ones that hiring managers will consider understandable and professional.

For example, if you didnt like the vibe of the work environment or the hiring manager seemed like a creep, those are great reasons not to take a job. But they shouldnt be the official ones you give when declining the job offer (if you care at all about maintaining a good relationship with the company).

Is it unprofessional to decline a job offer?

No, it is not unprofessional to decline a job offer. Companies interview multiple candidates and typically have a shortlist of people who they like for the position. If you decline the job offer, its unlikely that youre creating a big issue for the hiring committee; theyll just move to the next person on the list and extend them a job offer instead.

Ignoring a job offer, however, is very unprofessional. So is taking a longer time to respond than the job offer allowed.

Professionally declining a job offer means responding quickly, extending gratitude for the offer, and giving a safe, truthful, and brief reason for your decision.

Is it okay to turn down a job offer after acceptance?

Yes, it is okay to turn down a job offer after acceptance. Most of the US (barring Montana) operates under some version of at-will employment. This means that employers can fire employees at any time for any (non-discriminatory) reason and employees can quit their jobs at any time for any reason.

Turning down a job offer after accepting it is sort of like quitting a job you havent begun. It will almost certainly be an awkward experience and should be avoided at all costs, but backing out of a job offer you dont want is better than wasting the companys time training you, only to quit a month later anyway.

How do you politely turn down a job offer?

To politely turn down a job offer, call or email the hiring manager. Let them know that you appreciate the time and effort they took in the hiring process and how grateful you are for being selected.

Then, let them know, in clear words, that you will not be accepting the job offer. You can give a very brief explanation (staying at current job, taking a different offer, salary too low, etc.), but no more than one or two sentences.

Being polite when turning down a job offer means being grateful, forthright, and prompt.

Final Thoughts

Turning down a job offer is never easy. In fact, it might almost seem like were breaking up with a potential employer. But sometimes we have to reject a job offer in favor of better opportunities, higher pay, or even our own personal happiness.

When rejecting a job offer, make sure to always show your appreciation, thank the employer for the opportunity, and give them a brief reason for your decision.

You dont want to burn any bridges and risk losing future opportunities just because you wanted to rub it in someones face that you dont need their stinkin job.

Now that you know how to turn down a job offer, its time to send out a round of politely-worded letters that essentially boil down to, Thanks, but reallyno thanks.

How To Decline A Job Offer

Sarah Brocks
Career Coach Managing Director of Eaglerock Career Services

Getting a job offer is an accomplishment. You made a positive impression. They chose you. Take a moment to feel proud of yourself and reflect on what you did right. What lessons can you apply next time? Any job offer can be a step closer to getting THE job offerthe one that checks all your boxes.

In addition to notifying your main contact, usually the recruiter or HR rep, I advise my clients to email anyone else they met with during the interview process. Thank them for taking the time to meet with you, let them know about your decision not to accept the offer, and offer to stay in touch. You never know when your paths will cross again. I also recommend following up with LinkedIn connection requests (with a short note).

How To Decline A Job Offer

Alison Lobus
Chief Career Officer/Owner
Compass Career Counseling

When declining a job offer it is important to maintain professionalism and appreciation. Most industries have professional networks where you may encounter people from that organization in the future. When declining a job offer I advise my clients to express gratitude for the offer itself, as well as the interview/recruiting experience. It is also a good idea to connect with your contact at that organization via LinkedIn and check in periodically. You never know when your paths may cross again, or when there may be future opportunities to collaborate.

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