How to Turn Down a Job Offer: “Thanks, but No Thanks”


Look at you, high-flyer! After what felt like an eternity of CVs, applications, situational tests, competency questions and interviewing, you’ve found yourself with multiple job offers. There are plenty of worse positions to be in. The power now lies with you and next comes the task of rejecting the employers whose offers you aren’t going to accept.

Declining a job offer, especially after telling the manager how much you wanted to work for them throughout the interview process, is never going to be a pleasant task. However, this guide will help you to say “thanks, but no thanks” painlessly and professionally.

Are You 100% Sure?

Before you turn down an offer you need to ensure that you are making the right careers decision. If you have more than one confirmed job offer, review and compare them all. You need to establish which role is a good fit for you. Think about:

  • The role
  • What the company is offering you
  • The salary and the benefits
  • All the pros and cons of each

No matter how much you want that other job, unless you have an official verbal or written offer from that employer, wait before rejecting. You may need a backup plan.

It’s also useful to note that “treat them mean, keep them keen” doesn’t apply in this instance – if you think that rejecting an offer will encourage the company to try to lure you in with a more lucrative role or salary, think again. You won’t have been the only applicant for the role and opportunity doesn’t knock twice.

Don’t Drag it Out

As uncomfortable as you may feel doing it, you must be timely with your rejections. Leaving it too long comes across as unprofessional and inconsiderate, and the employer will waste their time and effort chasing your response, only to eventually be declined.

Employers are likely to have had an offer turned down before. As long as you’re polite and gracious, you won’t offend anyone.

Don’t Bottle Out with an Email

Sending an email or rejection letter to reject a job offer may seem like the easier option, but you’re better than that!

The best way to politely decline an offer is to call first and share your reason for not accepting. Then follow up this discussion with either a letter or an email, consolidating what has already been expressed. This is the most professional way to turn down an offer and it will stand you in good stead with the recruiter/employer.

Express Your Gratitude

Although you’re turning them down, the company did give you a chance and think carefully about hiring you. Let them know that you are grateful for their consideration, for their offer and for their time. It’s all about good manners and professionalism, and again, boils down to leaving things on a good note and offering to stay in touch.

Big Them Up

A rejection is much softer when you talk about what you liked about the job and the company.

Another way to leave things on a good note is to recommend someone else that you know who may be suitable for the role and pass on their details.

Explain Yourself and Stand Your Ground

When you reject a job offer, you may or may not be asked to provide a reason – either way, it’s best to always do so. Don’t feel like you have to go into too much detail.

Say things like: “I’ve been offered and have accepted another opportunity that I feel will better suit my professional development needs at present” or “After careful thought, I don’t feel that now is the right time for me to move on from my current position”.

You may at this point be given a counter offer, there’s nothing wrong in considering this, but if you know the role or company really isn’t for you, it’s not worth being swayed by a bigger salary or generous offer. Only accept a position if you are feeling really confident about it.

Don’t Burn Your Bridges

Fast forward a little – 6 months, 1 year, 5 years… Who knows where you’ll be? In the future, you may find yourself wanting to work for or working with this business, hiring manager or recruiter again. Therefore, it’s crucial that you don’t make a bad name for yourself.

When you make the phone call and send your follow up email/letter, leave things open with phrases like, “I hope we cross paths again” or “Maybe we will work together in the future”.

If you had a bad experience with the business, or someone that works there, keep it to yourself. Social media pages are not the places to express these personal opinions, and more often than not this will reflect just as badly on you.

Follow these steps, and declining the job offer won’t seem so daunting and you will leave a great impression on all the companies that want to employ you.

About the Author

Bridgewater Group recruit for market-leading businesses across the UK and Ireland within wholesale, distribution and manufacturing industries.



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