How To Decline a Job Offer Through Email

FT Contributor
A man crossing his arms as an employer extends his hand out to offer a handshake for a job.
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Whether you’re applying for your dream job or picking up some extra work in between college classes, it can feel immensely gratifying to get more than one job offer. The only problem is figuring out how to handle the ones you don’t intend on accepting.

Regardless of your feelings about the company, the position, or the work itself, it’s essential to your long-term career success that you respond to each offer you do not intend to accept with a formal rejection letter. This displays a level of professionalism and respect for the company’s recruiters that will reflect positively on you and may even provide future employment opportunities.

Tips for Rejecting a Job Offer

While the specifics of each scenario may differ, there are several elements that should always be present in a well-written rejection letter.

Be Prompt

Dragging your feet when it comes to your response can be seen as lazy and disrespectful. Once an offer has been made, the employer will be waiting to hear your response.

It’s important that you answer them quickly, particularly in a scenario where you do not intend to accept the position. This will free them up to consider other candidates.

Along with sending your letter promptly, make sure to be straightforward and concise in the letter itself.

Come right out and tell them that you do not intend to accept the position in your opening statement. There’s no need to elaborate on this in an unprofessional manner. Remaining informative rather than explanatory is important, too, as it will avoid wasting their time with unnecessary explanations.

Be Polite

While you may be excited to be accepting a different job, your rejection letter is hardly the time or the place to express this. Rude or even terse comments should be avoided.

Instead, adopt a polite tone that maintains your reputation as a professional and responsible candidate in the recruiter’s eyes. This may come in handy if you apply for a job with that company again in the future.

Show Appreciation

While the primary purpose of a letter of this nature is to turn down the job offer, it is still a good idea to show your appreciation for being offered the position in the first place. If an offer is on the table, the employer clearly thought you worthy of the position, and it’s important to reflect gratitude for this in your rejection letter.

Address the recruiter by name, thank them directly, and don’t be afraid to be specific with your praise.

A simple statement such as, “I appreciated the chance to learn more about your company and wish you the greatest success in the future,” can show a level of respect for the employer that will certainly be appreciated.

Give a Good Reason

While we already mentioned that you shouldn’t go into excessive detail with your rejection letter, if you feel inclined, it may be helpful to include a brief reason for your decision, such as:

  • The location is too inconvenient for me to reach on a daily basis.
  • The pay was simply too low for me to be able to accept.
  • While I enjoyed learning about your company, I felt the position wasn’t a good fit for me and my long-term career goals.
  • After serious consideration, I’ve decided this isn’t a good time to leave my current position.
  • While I sincerely appreciate the offer, I have chosen to accept a position at another company.

Stay in Touch

After you’ve sent your letter, it can be tempting to close the door and not look back. However, it can actually be quite beneficial to remain in contact with the hiring personnel as well as anyone else you may have met while applying for the position.

Whether you end up talking with them in person at a conference, interacting on LinkedIn, or running into them at a coffee shop, keeping up communication can provide some excellent professional benefits. It builds your professional network and may lead to further career opportunities at their company in the future.

Sample Letter Declining a Job Offer

If you’re still feeling uncertain about how to draft your rejection letter, don’t worry. Below is a draft of a simple rejection letter. All you need to do is copy and paste it into an email or blank document, personalize it with your own information, proofread it carefully, and then send it.

[Your name and address.] (Only if sending a physical copy.)

[Current date.]

[Hiring manager’s (or other contact’s):
Name and title.
Street address.
City and zip code.]

Dear [First and Last name of employer],

Thank you for offering me the position as [fill in position here] at [fill in company name here]. Unfortunately, I will not be able to accept the position.

This was a difficult decision to make. However, [include brief, informative reason for rejection].

I appreciate the time you spent interviewing me and truly regret my inability to take the position. [Include further thanks here if desired.]

Thank you again for your consideration.


(Signature goes here if a hard copy.)

[Your name.]

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