Job offer: how to politely refuse it

job offer

A job offer is a significant event, but it is not always possible to accept it. It is possible that someone receives several job offers at the same time, or that one is simply not good enough. Acceptance of the offer is then not possible. In that case, the job offer should be rejected, but not in a way that could permanently close the possibility for future cooperation with the employer.


Rejecting a job offer can be a very stressful and unpleasant situation for many. How to politely say “Thank you, but no?” We provide some guidance on how to do this and a sample rejection message.

You can also get multiple job offers!

Why is it important to decline a job offer?

Unfortunately, employers often encounter candidates who never respond to a job offer, and this practice is becoming more common as social networks popularize “ghosting.”


This is a very bad move for several reasons. A candidate who ignores a job offer may want to apply again in the future for another position in the same company, but they will remember him for his unprofessional behavior. Other possibilities are much more likely. A candidate may encounter the same person from the selection process at another company, or that person may share their unpleasant experience with the candidate with their colleagues in the industry.


In the worst case, if it is a job mediated through employment agencies, the consultants will have to record in the database that the candidate has not previously responded to the job offer. This information will remain permanently visible in the database to other consultants and will have a very negative impact on the candidate’s future.


1. Job offer and rejection: response speed is important

In situations where a candidate realizes that he has to reject a job offer, he or she often delays communicating his decision to a potential employer because he or she is embarrassed and does not know what to do. It is professional and polite to inform the employer as soon as possible that you will not accept their job offer so that they can offer the job to another candidate.


It frequently happens that a candidate takes too long to respond to a job offer, and in the meantime other potential candidates may find other jobs. In such a case, the employer loses the selected candidate, but also the backup options, so he has to repeat the selection process. Because of this, employers do not remember fondly a candidate who, by not responding, puts them in a very problematic spot.


A job offer is an event that is extremely important for both the employer and the candidate, and therefore it is very important to be completely transparent. Timely notification of the company helps it to fulfill its goal, which is to hire a new employee.


2. What not to do when rejecting a job offer

When the job offer is not satisfactory, candidates sometimes try to win better conditions. Trying to negotiate terms is a very risky act. Many employers are not ready to change their offer, although there are occupations where negotiating the details of a job offer is accepted, such as in IT or finance.


It should be remembered that employers will be ready to negotiate only with experienced and highly qualified workers, but not with entry-level positions. Making acceptance of a job offer conditional on changing the terms can be seen as a very aggressive move. In addition, it can lead the employer to change their mind about the candidate not because they do not want to invest in him, but because they recognize this as being excessively demanding and unsuitable to the company’s culture. In this case, the possibility of future cooperation is probably permanently lost.


However, some people will try to strategize and turn down a job offer by asking for better terms. They calculate that they will either get better conditions or that way they will refuse a job they don’t like. This move is recommended only if the person truly has the experience and skills that will enable them to find work easily and if they are sure that their professional reputation will not be damaged. It should always be kept in mind that in many industries people from different companies communicate and a candidate can get a bad reputation for being demanding and overly greedy.


3. Rejecting a job offer: what tone to use?

What bothers many the most is how to word their message to the employer. They often spend days trying to word a message that is full of compliments about the company and the people who led the selection in fear of being remembered badly.


The biggest mistake is to procrastinate and then exaggerate with compliments. Namely, people in the company may wonder if the candidate has such a good opinion of them, why did he or she reject their offer and conclude that the person is dishonest.


The best recommendation is to respond quickly and be short and clear with due respect. It is wrong to talk too much about your own or other people’s possible feelings. After all, it is a professional decision. Emotions are something that is kept for friends and family, and not expressed to people who only know each other professionally.


It is necessary to use I-messages, make yourself responsible for the rejection, and not blame the workplace conditions, even if they were the main reason. For example, it is best to say that “this offer is not currently the best for my career path,” rather than saying “this salary is too low.”


4. Job offer: what the rejection should contain

The question arises, what to write in the rejection if it is not good to write about emotions or praise the company too much? Of course, the most important item is to thank for the job opportunity. At the same time, it should be made known that the effort and time invested by people in the selection process is appreciated. Namely, they spent their time reading and studying candidates’ CVs and motivational letters, reviewing their works and portfolios, professional profiles on social networks, and conducted job interviews with them. They have invested time to identify the best candidates and so it is only polite to express our gratitude to them.


Furthermore, it is necessary to state the reason for rejecting the job offer, but in a diplomatic way. Candidates can refuse a job for many reasons: the company has a bad reputation, the management of the company is too authoritative, they don’t like their future colleagues, the salary is too low or the position is too far away. Although it seems logical to give a short reason why a job offer is rejected, it is best not to go into details because it is difficult to give a reason that will not tarnish either the candidate or the company.


The candidate should let the employer know that he or she has already accepted a job offer elsewhere or simply state that the job offer does not suit his or her needs without going into details. Most people in the selection are used to such rejections and there is no need to leave room for discussion.


5. Don’t forget to stay in touch

People’s biggest fear when rejecting a job offer is that they permanently close the door to future cooperation. In most cases, candidates cannot affect this. And when they can directly cause it, it will only happen if the candidates delay responding to the offer too much and thus put the employer in an awkward spot.


It is common practice for the candidate to offer the employer to stay in touch, which is an excellent networking opportunity. The employer will certainly remember the candidate as a person they almost hired once and therefore probably as a person of interest for future business opportunities.


Job offer: example of how to write a rejection letter

Most people are mostly interested in how to word a rejection message. Here is a simple template for such a message:


Dear [name of person who offered the job]


Thank you for giving me the opportunity and offering me a job at [position name] at [company name]. Although the decision was difficult, I decided to accept a job in another company. / Unfortunately, I have decided that your offer does not suit my career goals at this time.

It was truly a pleasure to meet you and your company, and I really appreciate you recognizing my accomplishments and taking the time to get to know me better over the past few weeks.

Once again, thank you for your time and opportunity. I wish you all the best in your search for a new candidate. I am offering you the opportunity to stay in touch in case our paths cross again in the future.


Kind regards,

[candidate’s first and last name]


Why is it important to professionally decline job offers?

Some people don’t pay much attention to the wording of job rejections because why would they be nice to an employer who doesn’t appreciate them? However, putting effort into professionally rejecting job offers will pay off for any candidate for several reasons:


  • the act of turning down a job offer won’t be an overly stressful and unpleasant experience
  • they will develop effective communication skills, which are increasingly important in today’s labor market
  • others will recognize the person’s communicativeness
  • they will establish themselves as a person who knows what their business goals are and consistently pursues them
  • it will leave open the possibility of business cooperation in the future


Rejecting a job offer is a move that no one is comfortable with, even if it’s obvious that the offer is not good for your career. However, most people will encounter such a situation not once, but repeatedly during their working life.


The best advice is to think carefully about the rejection because some employers will be offended even if every step is taken to decline the job offer as politely as possible. Accepting and rejecting job offers should be seen as an inevitable part of searching for a suitable job and managing to build business networks.


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