Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve submitted job applications to who-knows-how-many companies, went for an interview at a few different places, and ultimately ended up with more than one offer on the table?
While finding yourself in a position where you have multiple job opportunities to choose from is nothing short of enviable, learning how to decline a job offer in a polite and professional manner requires a bit of time and practice.
No matter if you are presented with an offer you’d never accept in a million years or one you’ve considered thoroughly but ended up opting for something that better fits your current career goals, we’ll provide you with all the tips and tricks you need to know to turn down a job opportunity with grace.
1. Inform the employer as soon as possible.
Once you’ve decided to decline a job offer, don’t put off getting in touch with the company. Although calling or emailing the employer to break the news that you won’t be accepting the job proposition isn’t a task you’ll ever look forward to, try to complete it in a timely manner. The company’s hiring team probably has other candidates on hold, and not letting them know about your decision right away could cause a real inconvenience.
2. Start with a “Thank you.”
It’s important to preface your job offer rejection letter with appreciation to show the hiring manager you are aware of the time and effort they have put into extending you an offer. Admittedly, interviewing candidates is a part of the recruiter’s job; however, this person has probably spent a few hours going through your resume, scrolling through your profiles on social media, and talking to you in interviews. They may even have made a special effort to talk you up to the company’s decision-makers and other team members. That’s why a heartfelt thank-you paragraph should be the first part of your job decline letter.
Still, don’t go overboard with the compliments. Say what needs to be said in a straightforward and respectful way:
“Thank you so much for offering me the Project Manager position. I appreciate you considering me for the role and taking the time to answer all of my questions about the organization.”
3. Provide a reason, but don’t get too specific.
Given that employers reject candidates all the time without providing an explanation, this may seem a little unfair. Still, if your aim is to preserve the good relationship you’ve established throughout the selection process for the sake of potential opportunities in the future, it’ll be wise not to leave the hiring manager in the dark. That said, your explanation for turning down a job offer doesn’t need to be a comprehensive essay with details on all the reservations you have about the company and the position.
Your reasons for rejecting the role could be as simple as not getting the compensation you were seeking, feeling unsure whether you’d work well with the hiring manager or other team members, seeing red flags in your would-be boss’s behavior, or receiving a better offer from another employer. Although all of these are justifiable reasons to turn down a job offer, it doesn’t mean you should mention all of them when declining a job offer.
Spilling the beans about the unmatched benefits package another company has offered you shouldn’t be a part of your respectful declination letter either. Elaborating your decision to a certain extent, however, is still a nice touch. It’s sufficient to say something like this:
“Thank you so much for offering me the role. However, after careful consideration, I’ve decided to decline your offer and accept a position with a different company which will point me more in the direction of my current career goals.”
“While this position seems like an excellent opportunity, I’ve decided that now isn’t a good time for my family and me to relocate to Chicago.”
The reason you provide for declining the job offer may prompt the company to try to overcome the issue you’ve mentioned. The hiring manager may come back to you with another offer addressing your salary or relocation objections. If all the adjustments the company is willing to make still don’t make the offer attractive to you, it’s fine to decline one more time:
“I appreciate you trying to make it work, but this isn’t quite right for my career goals at the moment.”
4. Suggest keeping in touch.
Finish off your job rejection email by letting the hiring manager know you enjoyed the selection process and that you might be interested in working with the company in the future. The world of job search is surprisingly small, especially in certain industries such as graphic design, so providing additional contact details and offering to stay in touch is always a good idea. Ways to do this include mentioning an event you both may be attending in the near future or simply expressing that you wish this person all the best.
If you are unsure how to respectfully decline a job offer while also asking to stay in touch, don’t feel obligated to do so, especially if you didn’t like the hiring team members all that much. However, if you want to make the most of this opportunity to build your professional network, include something like this in your letter:
“It’s been a pleasure meeting you; I hope we’ll see each other at the conference we’re both attending in two weeks.”
“I’m really impressed by the work you’re doing in digital marketing and would love to find a way to be a part of your projects down the road.”