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How to Turn Down a Job Offer

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Tactfully Turning Down a Job Offer

You’ve finally got the good news you’ve been waiting for. You’ve been offered a job. But, sometimes you may have to turn down that long-awaited job. The hours may not mesh with the times you need to be available to take your children to school or other activities, or your refusal could stem from other good causes. Learn how to be tactful when you refuse a job offer and the correct manner to do so in a way that won’t offend the person who offered you the job.

Turning Down a Job Offer by Email

If you’ve had most of your communications from the interviewer and company in the form of email, then it’s OK to turn down the job by email. Make certain to read your email response several times to ensure it sounds professional and that it mirrors the tone of the messages that the company has sent you. If you submit a very casual-sounding response to a company that was very formal in their approaches to you as a prospective employee, it won’t come across as being professional or appropriate. Always thank the employer for his or her time spent in talking with you or in checking references, as well as for the opportunity and their consideration. You could politely word it that you are removing yourself from consideration for that particular position. Then, apologize for any inconveniences you’ve caused. Make sure that it sounds sincere and genuine.

Turning Down a Job Offer Over the Phone

If the company or interviewer contacted you by phone several times, then it’s also OK to turn down the offer on the phone. Make sure that you show professionalism and call to decline the position as soon as you make the decision. Don’t make them call you. This is especially important if you’ve already accepted the job, but now, after consideration, you need to bow out. Make certain that you speak to the same person who offered you the job. If you speak to someone else, the message may not be relayed in the same manner that you intend. Never just leave a voicemail with the information; this makes you sound weak and afraid.

You may want to tell the hiring manager why you wanted a job at that particular company in the first place or what you liked about the company during the interview process. Doing so may leave a door open for future consideration.

How to Turn Down a Job Offer Because of Salary

Many times, the salary that a company offers you is not the same as it was advertised. Alternatively, the salary may simply be too low, and no possibility exists to earn more. If you can’t pay your bills on the salary, you simply can’t accept the job. Tell the person who offered you the job that you had hoped it would pay more and that the salary, as-is, won’t work for you. Tell the hiring manager that you appreciate the interest in you and your skills. The company may be so impressed with you that they offer you a higher salary.

An Example of How to Turn Down a Job Offer

When you decline a job offer, try to stay in the good graces of the person or hiring manager who made the offer.

Always thank the hiring manager for the time spent with you and for the decision to bring you on board. Make certain he or she knows that you gave the offer a lot of consideration beforehand and that it wasn’t just a spur-of-the-moment decision.

Explain why you cannot accept the job, such as a lengthy commute time or the working hours. Tell the hiring manager if it’s a financial issue. The job may not align with your intent to climb the corporate ladder, or you may have received a better offer. Whatever the reason for turning down the offer, be honest and kind when you tell the manager why you are opting out.

Keep the door open by suggesting that you can help the company look for another candidate for the job. Doing so helps you refuse gracefully and on a good note. You never know: At some time in the future, you may receive another offer from the same company, or someday, you could even interview with that same person, only at a different company. Always keep your options open, and don’t burn bridges while declining a job offer.


Mary Lougee has been writing for over 10 years. She holds a Bachelor's Degree with a major in Management and a double minor in accounting and computer science. She loves writing about careers for busy families as well as family oriented planning, meals and activities for all ages.

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