Turning down a job offer can feel awkward and uncomfortable. But there are steps you can take to navigate it in a professional, compassionate way.
- Many people find themselves in a situation where they must reject a job offer.
- Be sure that you review the entire offer and that you definitely want to decline it.
- Act quickly to communicate your decision professionally.
- Use our email templates to help you craft your rejection.
You may have heard it’s a job-seekers market right now, and the data backs that statement up. A March 2022 survey from The Balance revealed that the amount of people receiving multiple job offers is at a level it hasn’t reached since at least 2014.
While being in demand as an applicant is a good thing for you, it can also create a bit of a conundrum. What is the “right” way to turn down a job offer? Should you feel bad for wasting the company’s time? How can you tell the hiring manager you don’t want to work for them while maintaining professionalism and not stepping on anyone’s toes?
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Things to Consider When Turning Down a Job Offer
Most job offers are worth serious consideration. After all, this is likely a position you proactively applied to and went through the interview process. Review all the information provided, including the corresponding salary and benefits package.
- Does the salary match what you’re looking for?
- Does the role offer you the potential to grow and advance your career the way you want?
- Is this a possible stepping stone along your career trajectory?
- Do you see yourself being happy within the company’s culture?
- What is your gut feeling about the company and the role?
- Are you interested in using this job offer to negotiate a raise with your current organization?
The answers to these questions can help you decide whether or not rejecting this role is the right decision for you.
5 Steps to Declining a Job Offer
If you decide that you do want to reject the job offer, here are our recommendations for proceeding.
Be Resolute In Your Decision
Be sure this is what you want to do. Once you reject the job offer, you won’t be able to retract your rejection easily. If your issue with the offer is wanting more salary, you may want to ask for an adjustment before turning it down. There is typically room for negotiation after the company has sent you the offer, and this may be your chance.
Shed the Guilt
Don’t feel bad if you decide you need to say no to the offer. As we noted earlier, this is a situation many people will find themselves in throughout their careers. As long as you turn down the offer with consideration and care, you’ve done all that you can be expected to do.
Time is of the essence. Make sure to let the company know your decision as soon as possible. Hiring managers would rather know sooner than later that a candidate won’t be starting in a role. That way, they can either extend an offer to another candidate or begin the recruitment process again to find new applicants.
Recruiters and hiring managers typically invest a lot into the interview process, just as you do. For that reason, and to potentially maintain your relationships with the people involved, thank them for their time when you turn down the offer.
You’ll need to give a clear reason for turning down the offer,but remember that you don’t have to disclose all of your reasoning. Use your best judgment. If you’ve decided not to start with the company because you don’t like something about your hiring manager’s personality, that’s probably something you want to omit from your communication.
Email Templates For Turning Down a Job Offer
Check out these handy templates if you’re looking for some sample language to use when turning down a job offer. You’ll notice each one starts by expressing appreciation or positive sentiment, moves into a concise reason for declining the position, and ends with more gratitude.
Frequently Asked Questions About Turning Down a Job Offer
How do I decline a job offer without burning bridges?
First, make sure that you want to reject the job offer by considering all relevant information. When you are 100% certain of your decision, share your rejection quickly to give the hiring manager time to either extend a job offer to another candidate or find new applicants. To avoid burning bridges, express gratitude and be honest in your email or phone call with the hiring manager.
Is it unprofessional to decline a job offer?
No. It is not unprofessional to decline a job offer. Hiring managers and recruiters may expect candidates to have multiple job offers to compare and will expect some candidates to decline. As long as you navigate rejecting a job offer in a timely, considerate fashion, you can maintain your professionalism throughout the process. It’s essential to express appreciation and be honest when you reach out to decline the job offer.
Is it OK to accept a position and then decline?
Accepting a position and then declining is generally not recommended. If you find yourself in this situation, first review the employment contract you signed (if applicable) to see whether you’re required to give a certain amount of notice before leaving the role.
No matter what, promptly communicate your decision to the hiring manager and thoroughly explain what’s changed and why you’re now declining the role. If possible, it may be better to have the conversation over the phone instead of via email since you’ve likely developed a relationship with the hiring manager or recruiter by this point.