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How to Decline a Job Offer for the Second Time?

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For active job seekers and passive candidates, one of the best forms of flattery is an employer that's so intent on persuading you to join the organization that the hiring manager extends not just one job offer, but two. Many people looking for employment or advancement opportunities don't have this quandary, but if you've already turned down the company's first job offer, give the second job offer some thought and plan a personalized response to the hiring manager who extended the offer.

Initial Job Offer

When the company extended its initial job offer, it's likely you gave the hiring manager or recruiter a reason why you couldn't accept the offer. Perhaps the company wasn't in a position to negotiate a more attractive compensation and benefits package or it just wasn't the job you wanted at that time in your career. Alternatively, you might have accepted another position and ended your job search. Whatever the reason, look at the notes you made from the first time you received the offer and compare them to the recent job offer.

Similar Conditions

If the first and second job offers are similar, you may be concerned about why the company has expressed, for a second time, that they'd like you to join the team. For some job seekers, that's a red flag signaling desperation. If you turned down the first offer and the second offer is not substantially different from the first, the company is either exceptionally impressed in your skills or it is desperate. If you're going to decline the offer anyway, refrain from asking why the company appears insistent upon you joining the organization.


Demonstrate professional courtesy by speaking directly to the hiring manager who extended the offer. Avoid leaving a voice mail to decline the offer. The hiring manager obviously went to the trouble of reaching out to you a second time to impress upon you how much they'd like you to work for the company, the least you can do is give a personal response. When you reach the hiring manager, state your name and ask if it's a good time to discuss her recent job offer.

Decline Offer

Always start your conversation about a job offer by expressing how pleased you are that the company has such confidence in your qualifications. Say something complimentary about the company, but only if it's genuine. Otherwise, just tell the hiring manager that it was a pleasure meeting her. Follow up by saying that you regret having to decline the job offer again, but that you have decided to take your career in another direction. While that's true -- you're going in another direction away from the company that extended the second offer -- you needn't give details unless you feel obligated to do so. For example, if you were really torn between deciding between two employers, but you gave serious thought to the one that extended the second offer, explain that it was a difficult decision for you to select another employer.

Passive Candidates

Being a passive candidate means you aren't actively looking for another job. Also, you aren't seriously interested in leaving your current employer but you're not opposed to exploring extraordinary opportunities. Recruiters and headhunters can be aggressive when they find a passive candidate who expresses even a slight interest. If that's the case and you simply aren't interested in the job, say so and ask to be removed from their list of potential candidates. Politely explain that you're happy in your current role and that you will call them if your situation changes.


Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.

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