How To Decline A Job Offer

The Prepared Resume: How To Decline A Job Offer

One question I run into from time to time is: How do I decline a job offer? That makes sense because it is one of the most common questions asked by people. For better or worse, how you refuse a job offer defines your character. This is a big deal in your career so let’s dive in.

This post is timely for me because I just went through a round of interviews myself and I had to decline two different jobs. That was most certainly not ideal but I needed to decline them so that I could accept the job that I truly wanted.

How does someone end up in a scenario where they have to decline a job?

It is important to understand there are various ways to go about a job search that may put you in a position where it is necessary to decline a job offer from a company. Many people work with a search consultant to find a job. But if you are reading this blog post on my site, my guess is you are doing your own independent job search without seeking help from a search consultant.

I mention this at the outset because when you work with a search consultant, you probably will not face surprises big enough that would put your in a position to decline a job offer. (Of course there are always exceptions and extenuating circumstances.)

But if you work independently without seeking help from a search consultant, this is the most common path that leads candidates to be in a position where they end up having to decline a job. For example, you may receive a job offer without knowing all the facts to make an informed decision. (Whether you asked enough questions during your interviews is another article for another day.) Another circumstances is that some employers focus more on the interview process and can easily fail to address your core questions and needs.

Those are just a few examples but but what about you? Do you need to decline a job offer? Well, in today's article, we will answer this question!

Tips to Decline a Job Offer

People who obtain a job offer through their own efforts clearly don't have a search consultant as their liaison about any potential problems with the employer or the job role. Therefore, it is crucial to stay courteous, respectful, and diplomatic at all times if you are actually turning down an offer from an employer. I understand, it is tempting to refuse the offer verbally and skip writing a letter if the offer is disappointing. (It was most certainly tempting for me to do that several weeks ago when I had to decline the two jobs I previously mentioned.)

However, it is professional to use a formal letter template to decline the offer. Sometimes, you show interest in the employer, but you have a disappointing offer. In that case, we recommend discussing your dissatisfaction and communicate with the employer directly to see if you can negotiate a better job offer. Here a few things to consider that are common to mention when you decline a job in writing. If appropriate:

  • State that you have an interest in the organization and the job opportunity is exciting
  • Mention that the company can't meet your financial needs
  • State your considerations to make the offer acceptable, but don't compromise.
  • Justify your reasons and prepare yourself for any increased demands
  • Point out the competitor companies and what they pay for similar positions

Just like many employees utilize resignation letter templates to leave a company because they want to look professional, I recommend using letter templates to decline a job offer. (Though I currently do not have any templates to use to decline a job offer, I do offer various resignation letter templates bundles. You can take a look at those bundles here.) Regardless if you work through your own efforts or through a search consultant in your job search, consider the following factors as you write a formal letter to decline a job offer:

Promptness is Key

Once you have made an informed decision about declining the job offer, call the hiring manager immediately to notify them of your decision and immediately follow up with a formal communication in writing to decline the offer. It is crucial to notify the employer immediately once you have made your decision to avoid holding up the process because the company will offer the position to another candidate or applicant.

Stay Courteous

Make sure you write a formal, professional, courteous letter. Although you want to turn down this position, you may wish the company to consider you for future opportunities. If you are a savvy job seeker, you should take every chance to network and maintain communication.

Therefore, thank each person with whom you have interacted and interviewed. Similarly, you need to wish them and their organization/company continued success. Remember, it is wise to point out your enjoyment of the interview process and mention that you want to seek a job that aligns with your career and financial needs. However, there is not a requirement for you to mention your personal or financial needs in this formal letter.

Be Diplomatic

Although it is crucial to stay courteous, you also need to be diplomatic when writing a letter to decline a job offer. For instance, if you have received a more generous offer from another organization, don't mention the other position or its details.

Let the hiring manager know that the company impressed you and you considered the offer carefully, but you accepted a job offer that better suits your career and financial goals. Remember, this is a professional and ethical approach to decline a job offer.

Stay Concise

A formal letter is not the place to showcase your credentials, skills, and career achievements. Why? Becasue the company alrady knows that! That is why you were offered the job to begin with. T

The company already realizes your skills, professionalism, and value, make sure you keep the letter concise, short and sweet. PRO TIP: Avoid adding any sentiments or emotional words in your letter. Some people have more tendency toward emotions that take them over, causing them to say more than they should in the letter. Do not fall into that trap.

Remember, the more you say, the higher your chances of leaving an undesirable and unprofessional impression. The general rule of thumb is to stick with the facts when writing a formal letter.


If I had to summarize the entire reason every person declines a job, here is how I would state it: Every person declines a job simply because they believe the job offer does not align with their career and/or financial goals. If my summary is accurate, writing a formal letter to decline a job offer becomes essential. Follow the tips and tricks given above to ensure everything goes smooth.

If you are in the unique and fortunate position to decline a job offer, stay humble, be gracious, and make your decision confidently. Until next time!

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