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Declining a job offer isn't easy but it is crucial to accept or decline in a timely fashion. There is more than one way to decline: face-to-face, over the phone, or sending an email. To ensure your email decline of a job offer doesn’t offend or, worse yet, leave you blacklisted with the company, use care and consideration when typing your correspondence.
Respond as soon as you can. It is appropriate to take some time to consider the offer, but it isn’t okay to wait longer than is necessary to contact the company regarding your decision. Be considerate and compose your email as close to the date of the offer as you can. Make sure you address it to the appropriate contact.
Compose a relevant subject line. Your subject line shouldn’t tell the whole story. For example, saying “Declining Your Job Offer” would be inappropriate. At the same time, it should give the reader an idea of what the email is about. Compose a subject line something along the lines of, “Job Offer – Your Last Name.” While the subject line may seem unimportant, a poorly written one could destine your email for the spam bin, so proceed with caution.
Keep it short. Compose a few carefully constructed sentences that convey your point without taking up too much if the recipient's time.
Compliment the company. They offered you a job, after all, so be courteous in return by saying something positive such as, “I appreciate the opportunity you have given me to work for a company with such a great reputation.”
Provide a vague reason for your decline. You don’t need to go into all the details, but it is good form to provide some explanation of why you haven’t accepted the offer. If, for example, you have decided to take a better offer from a competing company, simply say, “I have elected to accept another position that more closely aligns with my needs at this time.”
Proofread your email before you send it. This is the last impression you will make on the company in question – for now at least. So don’t make it a negative one. Take an extra minute or two and read over your email before sending it to ensure that it is grammatically correct, concise and appropriately reflects your intended message.
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Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.