How To Decline A Job Offer Respectfully

How To Decline A Job Offer Respectfully

You got the job! Oh, but you don’t want or need it any more. What do you do? What should you say?

Photo by Mark Lord Photography.

How To Handle A Job Rejection Gracefully

So you didn't get the job -- bummer. It stings but the process isn't over yet. Before you move on to the next potential gig, do these three things.

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Call First

OK, so you know the job isn’t right for you. Maybe it’s because you got a better offer from somewhere else. Or perhaps the pay they’re offering isn’t even close to what you asked for. Whatever the reason is, you need to let them know as soon as possible. Promptness is key to avoid being rude or burning any bridges you might want to cross in the future.

But don’t just send an email, or god forbid, text. Trudy Steinfeld, the Executive Director of Career Development at New York University, recommends you pick up the phone and call. Reaching out to the recruiter or hiring manager you’ve been working with is professional and acknowledges the time and energy they invested in you.

Write an Email or Letter to Confirm Your Decision

Once you’ve let them know over the phone, follow up with a written confirmation of your decision so they have it for their records. This doesn’t need to be an entire book about why you’re rejecting their offer — just a concise, courteous and respectful message.

If you’re not sure what to say, Kim Isaacs, the Resume Expert at offers a letter example (slightly modified):

Dear [contact]:

Thank you very much for offering me the [position]. After careful consideration, I regret that I must decline your offer. Although you were most encouraging in outlining future advancement possibilities within [company name], I have accepted another opportunity that is more in line with my skills and career goals.

I enjoyed meeting you and the rest of your team. You have been most kind and gracious throughout the interview process, and I only wish that circumstances allowed me to accept your offer.

Best wishes for your continued success.


[your name]

You can mention the specifics regarding why you’re declining the position, such as salary, the company’s attitude, you took a different position, and so on, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to. If you do choose to give your reasoning, though, Adrian Granzella Larson at The Muse recommends you keep it brief. A quick sentence will do. There’s no need to mention any of the things you didn’t like about the people you met, the workplace or the company itself. You can also offer referrals if you have any, but it isn’t necessary unless they ask. Remember, short and sweet.

Send a Thank You Note and Ask to Stay in Touch

You can thank the people you interviewed with in your phone call and email, but it’s also nice to send a very simple thank you note after the fact as well. Let them know you appreciate them considering you and taking the time to sit down and chat with you. Yes, it’s their job, but showing a little gratitude can go a long way and people don’t forget. You never know what the future will bring.

Your thank you note is also a great opportunity to expand your network. Feel free to mention your LinkedIn page, your website or other professional pages, and ask them to stay in touch. You might as well make another ally.