Declining a Job Offer

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No matter your reasons for declining a job offer, it should be done with tact and professionalism. Discover how to turn down an offer gracefully and maintain good rapport with the employer.

Although you may be declining a job offer from a particular company, you still need to work to maintain a good relationship with that employer.

You never know when your paths may cross again professionally.

Ensure You Really Ought to Turn Down the Offer

Before turning down an offer, be absolutely certain that it is the right decision for you.

Think through your reasons for declining a job offer.

  • Is the salary not in line with your needs?
  • Does part of the work not appeal to you?
  • Is it too far away?

Ask yourself what the core problem is, and then ask yourself whether that problem could be changed.

For example, if the salary does not meet your needs, did you try to negotiate the salary with the employer? Employers are typically open to a little bit of salary negotiation, and even if they can't increase the salary, they may be able to include other perks that would mitigate the lower salary.

For example, if you were offered a position in a big city, and the pay was slightly lower than you expected, if the employer was able to include free parking (which can be very expensive in a big city) at your workplace, that perk could easily make up for a slightly lower salary.

Or, if part of the work does not appeal to you, is there opportunity for professional advancement and growth that would allow you to develop beyond that role and into something that is more appealing to you? Or is there a way to make the unappealing part of the offer more appealing?

Do not immediately jump to declining a job offer before you fully explore whether you can make the situation work for you.

Be honest with yourself about the likelihood of getting another, better opportunity.

If you are already working, and another opportunity has presented itself, then declining won't have the same consequences as turning down a job offer when you are out of work.

If you are out of work, before you decline a job offer, ask yourself whether you could realistically expect to find a better opportunity in the near future. If the labor market is tough in your industry or your location, it may be a mistake to turn down an opportunity even if it is not ideal.

Be sure to protect your income if you are receiving some type of unemployment insurance benefits.

If you have been laid off, and you are receiving some type of government unemployment insurance benefits, you might jeopardize your benefits if you turn down a job.

The rules around declining a job when you are receiving unemployment insurance vary from one location to another.

If this is your situation, be absolutely certain that you understand your rights and obligations while you are receiving unemployment insurance benefits so you do not jeopardize your unemployment benefits if you turn down an offer of employment.

How to Turn Down a Job Offer Gracefully

1. Begin by telling the employer you appreciate the time he or she spent interviewing you, and thank the employer for the offer.

2. Next, mention something specific that impressed you about the company.

3. State that, unfortunately, you will not be able to accept the offer, and provide a brief explanation.

  • There is no need to go into detail here.
  • Do not complain about all of the faults you see with the job offer.
  • If you have multiple job offers and are accepting a position at another organization, simply tell the employer that you have decided to accept another offer. Do not list the reasons why the other opportunity is superior.

4. Wish the employer well.

Be friendly and professional at all times. Keep in mind that you may work with this person in some capacity in the future, so ensure that you maintain a respectful and positive relationship with the employer when declining a job offer.

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