Categories
Design

When and how to turn down a job – even in a down economy

Turn Down an Opportunity Without Burning Bridges

When and how to turn down a job - even in a down economy

Theresa Chiechi / The Balance

What’s the best way to decline a job offer? How should you turn down a job if you don’t want to take it? It always makes sense to be polite when you reject a job offer, even when the offer didn’t come close to what you were expecting.

There are times when you should turn down a job offer, but what you say or write when you decline depends on your reasons for rejecting it.

If the job wasn’t a good fit, for example, but you liked the company, state in your email or phone call that you were impressed with the organization but didn’t view the job as a good fit for you.

Your response might include a mention of the key skill sets that you would like to employ, the level of responsibility toward which you wish to aspire, or other elements of the prospective job that were missing.

For example, if the target job involved only inside sales, point out that you were interested in a position handling major accounts providing a clear pathway to sales management; the possible upside being that the employer thinks of you for another role currently available or one that might open up in the future.

Tips for Turning Down a Job Offer

Before sending a declination of offer letter, make sure you are positive you do not want the job. If a scenario exists wherein you might take the job (such as a pay increase or other changes in the benefits package), first try to negotiate a counter offer. Once you send a rejection letter, there is almost no chance you will be offered the job again.

However, if you’ve considered the opportunity well and have decided not to accept it, sending a polite, grateful, and timely job rejection letter is ​a terrific way to maintain a good relationship with the employer.

You never know when, if or how your paths might cross again, so it’s always a good show of professionalism to exhibit gratitude and timeliness.

When You Don’t Like the Company

If the company is unappealing because of its culture, a prospective supervisor, or its products or services, “thanks for the opportunity” with a simple reference to the job not being a great fit at this point in your career is sufficient.

Candidates are generally better off not expressing specific dissatisfaction with the staff with whom they interacted or sharing any criticisms of the organization.

When the Job Doesn’t Pay Enough

If a job and organization are attractive but the offered salary is insufficient, you might address this issue in your communications. If all efforts to negotiate a higher salary fail to yield the results you require, send a communication expressing your thanks and reaffirming your excitement about the position, stating that you must decline due to the level of the salary.

Sometimes an employer will come back to you with a better offer once they see that you are truly willing to walk. Be prepared to discuss a counter offer, if a higher salary would make a difference.

What to Include in a Job Rejection Letter

Your letter should include the following:

  • Expression of appreciation for the offer
  • Written rejection of the offer

Address the letter to the person who offered you the position. Include your contact information and phone number, even though it is on file with the employer.

There’s no need to give extensive details as to why you’re declining the job. Do not include any potentially offensive reasons, such as a poor work environment or feeling uncertain about the company’s long-term future and profitability.

However, it is appropriate to briefly mention a reason for turning the job down. For example, you might explain that you accepted another offer, decided it was best to stay at your current job, or felt that the position didn’t ultimately match your career goals. Whatever the case, keep your explanation brief.

As with any communication sent to an employer, it’s important to make sure that your letter is well written and does not contain typos or grammatical errors.

Even in declining a position, all correspondence should be professional.

Sample Letters Declining a Job Offer

Review the following sample job rejection letters and use them as templates for your own letter.

Job Rejection Letter Example #1

Contact Name
Street Address
City, State Zip Code

Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name,

Thank you very much for offering me the position of Marketing Manager with Hatfield Industries. It was a difficult decision to make, but I have accepted a position with another company.

I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to interview me and to share information on the opportunity and your company.

Again, thank you for your consideration.

Signature (hard copy letter)

Job Rejection Letter Example #2

Contact Name
Street Address
City, State Zip Code

Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name,

Thank you very much for offering me the opportunity to work at Bronson Associates. Unfortunately, I will not be accepting the position as it does not fit the path I am taking to achieve my career goals.

Once again, I’d like to express my gratitude for the offer and my regrets that it didn’t work out. You have my best wishes in finding someone suitable for the position.

Signature (hard copy letter)

Job Rejection Email Example

Job Rejection Email Example

Subject: Your Name – Unit Coordinator Position

Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name,

Thank you for offering me the position of Unit Coordinator at Acme Enterprises and for reviewing my counteroffer with management. I fully understand that budgets are tight, but must regretfully decline the position at the current compensation.

Once again, I want to thank you so much for your graciousness during the negotiation process. I wish you and Acme all the best.

When and how to turn down a job - even in a down economy

When and how to turn down a job - even in a down economy

This is the third entry in a three-part series on modern life in work and business — you can read part one here and part two here.

The call you’ve been awaiting finally arrives.

Maybe it’s the hiring manager, but more than likely it’s someone from Human Resources.

“Hi,” the cheery voice on the other end says, “we’d like to formally offer you the position of…”

Your pulse begins to quicken. This is it. This is the moment. This is the culmination of all that time and effort.

All of those resumes you submitted that seemingly went nowhere? All of those applications you completed in which you had to type the same thing over and over again even though all of the information is already on the resume you uploaded? All of those calls from desperate recruiters trying to get you to accept that one awful job that they can’t get off their desk? All those phone interviews that you took on the sly so no one at your job knew you were interviewing? And even those in-person interviews in which they may have brought you back two or three times to meet more and more people and once again recount your employment experience before scrambling back to the office and changing clothes in the car or in the bathroom of a Dunkin’ Donuts so that your boss didn’t know you were trying to bolt?

All of it was leading to this moment. This is why you did all of that.

Only, it doesn’t feel right.

Maybe you knew it as you were exiting the building following your interview. Maybe it came to you as an epiphany in the middle of the night or while you were on the toilet the next day. Or maybe you thought it was all good until the offer came in and the package — salary, benefits, hours, dress code, travel, whatever — was not what you were expecting.

Do you still accept?

After all, you were the one that applied and you were the one that interviewed and you were the one looking for a job.

We’ve been conditioned — particularly since 2008 — to be grateful for any scraps of employment that our compassionate overlords dole out to us, that we should be happy that we get a check — no matter its size — and continue to work harder and harder just so we get to keep our jobs. So, if a company is generous enough to offer you a position, you take it.

Well, what if we reverse it?

Organizations choose from a pool of candidates and bring in several to interview before choosing the best fit. Why can’t we, as empowered employees, do the same? Why can’t we toss ourselves out there and see how many candidates we get?

I’ve sat through meetings about how we need to do more for the company on Thursday and saw people get laid off the following Monday. That’s business and that’s life. I get it. But why should loyalty be a one-way street?

If you think of yourself not as high school kid hoping to make varsity but as a free agent, able to field offers from a variety of teams before choosing the best option, you’ll be able to use this to your advantage.

When and how to turn down a job - even in a down economy

Be careful. This can get dangerous. Sometimes you wind up in a Latrell Sprewell situation in which you turn down $21 million because you claim it’s not enough to feed your family and are never offered another contract ever again. So you have to know the market and your value within that market, and what other options and opportunities are out there for you.

I’ve turned down a job offer several times and, in my experience, the most important thing is that you are doing so for the right reasons.

Recently, I turned down two offers within the span of a week, but only one was the correct decision.

The first was a role with a fantastic company. Unfortunately, they not only expected me to do the job of two or three people, but they also wanted me to travel globally for long stretches of time, something that I’d rather not do with a young child at home. Perhaps if they were going to double my salary I would have been willing to do it for a few years to get some great international experience and bank some money, but the package was not nearly worth the sacrifice. After informing the HR recruiter of my decision, I slept great.

A few days later, I turned down another offer. This was a great opportunity, one that provided me with some experience that was missing from my resume in an industry in which I had previously thrived. But I didn’t like the dress code and some other minor policies I found to be draconian. I was being stupid and petty. When I declined the offer, I felt uneasy and kept second-guessing myself.

When I told someone whose insights into both business and life I respect and value about the two offers, he couldn’t understand why I didn’t leap at the second one. In a very short conversation, he presented the situation in a different way and made me realize all of the things I was overlooking and thus forgoing. (A similar thing happened when I first met my wife. I guess I just can’t realize a good thing even when it’s staring me in the face.)

Fortunately, we were able to work through it and come to an agreement, and I happily accepted the position, something I should have done the first time.

But I was lucky. For a time, I believed that I had thrown away a wonderful job offer because it wasn’t the perfect job offer and worried that I’d never get that type of chance again.

So should you ever turn down a job offer?

Absolutely. But only if you’ve thought it through completely and you’re doing so for the right reasons.

Christopher Pierznik’s nine books are available in paperback and Kindle . His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint , Business Insider , The Cauldron , Medium, Fatherly, Hip Hop Golden Age, and many more. Subscribe to his monthly newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter .

When and how to turn down a job - even in a down economy

Be careful: that lucrative job offer could be a trap

As the economy continues to rebound, more job opportunities are opening up, increasing your chance of landing a new role. Accepting the wrong offer, however, can actually cost you dearly. As one client put it: “I should never have accepted their offer; it was a toxic environment and I was not set up for success, but I was blinded by the money and prestige.” You can reduce the odds of accepting the wrong job offer by asking yourself three questions:

  • Will I be set up for success?
  • Am I taking this job for the right reasons?
  • Will I fit in?

If the answer to any of these questions is clearly “no,” then keep looking. Here’s how to properly assess the answer to each question.

“Will I be set up for success?”

Aim to understand as much as possible about your boss’s expectations, the resources you’ll have available to meet these expectations, and how much the organization itself will support your success. If something doesn’t add up, either negotiate that aspect of the job to make it work for you before accepting, or do yourself a favor and take a pass.

  • Expectations: Ask questions like “What does success in this role look like a year from now? How will we know if I’ve been successful assuming I’m the new hire?”
  • Resources available to meet expectations: You might ask things like “Given these expectations, what challenges do you see around gaining the cooperation of key stakeholders?” “Will I have access to ‘X’ (fill in the name of the resource) that I’ll need to be effective?” If you’ll manage a team and haven’t interviewed with any of the people reporting to you, ask to meet some of them before accepting; you’ll want to get their view of the challenges and assess their capabilities. One client, going for SVP of Information Technology, requested to meet more of the people who would be reporting to her. From these conversations, she found that, with current resources, her team would never meet the ambitious nine-month IT transformation goal that was expected of her. She was able to negotiate an agreement before accepting the offer that included more resources and the opportunity to re-purpose existing staff.
  • Organizational support: It’s not uncommon for me to hear a client say something like “My department got re-organized one month after I started in my new role; now my job is different than the one I accepted.” Sometimes an unexpected change like this can be good for you, but too often it will drive dissatisfaction or even a layoff.

To gauge the likelihood of an unwelcome surprise, do some external research. Is the organization struggling or in downsizing mode? Consider asking your prospective boss “Do you expect any reorganizations that could impact my role in the next six months?” If the offer comes from a public company, for example, check out the “Investors” section of the company website. Does your department fit in well with the company’s strategy?

Sometimes a job offer isn’t a good fit, even though you applied for the role hoping it would be. Or, perhaps, you’re in the position of being offered two opportunities at once. It’s never easy, but sometimes declining a job offer is necessary. In this article, we offer guidelines on how to politely turn down a job offer and sample emails that you can customize based on your situation.

How to turn down a job offer

Here are some recommended steps for turning down a job offer:

1. Don’t procrastinate

Once you’ve decided to decline the offer, don’t delay writing to the employer. Letting the company know in a timely manner will help them move forward more quickly in their own process.

2. Keep it simple and to the point

Start by being straightforward and honest in your message. Don’t go overboard with excessive compliments about the company or the people you’ve interacted with—it’s a rejection letter after all. Say what needs to be said as respectfully as you can and avoid being overly emotional.

3. Say “thank you”

Thank the hiring manager for their time. Above all, maintain a tone of gratitude as you write the letter, letting the recruiter and hiring manager know that you appreciate their time and effort.

4. Provide a reason but don’t get specific

Your reasons for not accepting the offer could be as simple as the company didn’t offer you the compensation you were seeking. Perhaps you weren’t sure you’d work well with the hiring manager, or maybe you weren’t excited about the company. While these are all justifiable reasons to decline a job offer, you should not include them in your rejection letter. It is sufficient to say that you’ve accepted a job offer elsewhere or simply that this job offer isn’t the right fit.

5. Consider offering to stay in touch

If you felt a warm connection with the hiring manager but the role wasn’t a good fit for other reasons, consider offering to stay in touch and provide additional contact information. Don’t feel obligated to provide this information, but some people might see this opportunity as a way to build their professional network.

Email example for when you have accepted another job

If you’ve accepted another position, here is an example to help you craft your own email to turn down a job offer:

Subject line: Job offer – [ Your name ]

Dear Mr./Ms. [ insert last name of hiring manager ] ,

Thank you very much for offering me the role of [ insert name of position ] with [ insert company name ] . Though it was a difficult decision, I have accepted a position with another company.

I sincerely enjoyed our conversations and very much appreciate your taking time to interview me over the course of the past few weeks.

Again, thank you for your time and consideration; best wishes in your continued success, and I hope our paths cross again in the future.

Email example for when the job is not a good fit

Though it’s typically a good idea to provide a reason, you might not always have one, or you might not care to provide. Here’s a second example that will help you decline the job offer politely without specific details:

Subject line: Job offer – [ Your name ]

Dear Mr./Ms. [ insert last name of hiring manager ] ,

Thank you very much for offering me the role of [ insert name of position ] . However, I have decided that this is not the right fit for my career goals at this time.

I sincerely enjoyed our dialog as well as discussions with your team, and I very much appreciate your taking time to share information about the role and vision of [ insert company name ] .

Again, thank you for your time and consideration; best wishes in your continued success.

Tips for turning down a job offer

Be sure you’re making a well-considered decision. Once you have declined the job, there is close to zero chance you’ll be offered the position again. This is not the time to attempt to negotiate a better deal.

Finally, don’t be afraid to reject the job offer if it simply isn’t the right fit. Turning down a job offer can be both a difficult and delicate task, but when done well, it will enable you to move on to the right job and keep your professional network intact.

When and how to turn down a job - even in a down economy

It can be a difficult decision to make, to turn down a job offer, especially if you have been looking for some time. Remember though, that you spend a lot of your time at work, and it is really important that you find the right fit.

Taking the time to evaluate whether the job you have been offered is the right job is well worth it, for your sake (and your family) as well as for your potential employer. Remember, you’re not the only one whose turned down a job – here are some of the most common reasons for rejecting a job offer.

In addition to the job content, evaluate both the salary and the benefits. Here’s a job benefits comparison worksheet you can use to help with your decision-making. After you have crunched the numbers, consider some of the other factors that aren’t as quantifiable. Those are as important as the compensation package. When considering both types of factors, sometimes it can make good sense to say no thank you.

Review these warning signs that should, at least, get you thinking about whether it makes sense to accept – or decline – a job offer.

13 Signs You Should Turn Down a Job Offer

Your gut says no.

One of the best bosses I ever worked for told me to listen to my gut, and he was right. If you left the interview with a knot in your stomach and hoped you wouldn’t get an offer though the job offered a high salary and greater responsibility, it may be time to decline.

Nobody has anything good to say.

At lunch, you had the opportunity to meet some potential colleagues who report to your prospective boss. When you asked them to describe her management style, they hesitated and struggled to convey any positives.

You’re not sure what you would be doing.

The employer was unable to communicate a clear sense of what your job would entail. If more information would help you make a decision, it’s fine to ask for more details.

You’re looking for work-life balance.

You are a parent and need to balance between work and family. It became apparent during the interview process that a key to a successful career in the organization would be working late many evenings.

You would have to get up and talk.

The employer is looking for someone who excels at public speaking or requires some other skill that is not strength for you, and you are not interested in developing that skill area.

There’s too much turnover.

Turnover in your prospective job is much higher than normal for the industry.

The career ladder isn’t clear.

You are interested in career advancement, and a career ladder rising from your prospective job is not well defined.

There’s too much too learn too soon.

Neither formal or informal mechanisms for training appear to be in place, and the job would involve a steep learning curve for you.

Your values don’t mesh with the company’s mission.

Your personal values are at odds with the mission or practices of the organization. For example, you are a dedicated environmentalist and the organization has a reputation as a major polluter.

The company isn’t as successful as you would like.

The company is losing market share in their industry, and success in your role would require a well-respected brand.

The salary isn’t enough.

The salary offered is a step up for you but significantly below market for the job, and the prospect of gaining salary increases is not clear.

The base salary is too low.

Compensation is heavily weighted with commissions and/or bonuses and the goals for achieving adequate compensation do not seem reasonable.

There isn’t enough room for personal and professional growth.

The salary and benefits are great, but you wouldn’t be developing the knowledge and skills that would qualify you for the next step toward your ultimate job.

When and How to Turn Down a Job Offer

Even though this may not be the right job for you, the company may have other positions that are a better fit. You don’t want to burn any bridges, so take the time to decline politely if you have decided to turn down the job. Here are tips for how to decline a job offer with class:

Having Second Thoughts?

What if you’re already said yes? Here’s what to do if you have changed your mind, and want to decline a job offer after accepting it.

Related

Unemployment insurance rules require recipients to actively look for jobs and accept suitable work offers. If you are on unemployment and offered a job, then turn down the job, prepare to defend your decision to your state unemployment agency. Read and understand your state’s rules so that you don’t jeopardize your unemployment benefits.

Refusing work while on unemployment due to COVID can subject you to different rules than you’d face otherwise. This, too, is highly dependent on the state you are in, but according to OSHA.gov, an employer cannot require you to work in an unsafe workplace. For example, according to the Employment Security Department of Washington State, individuals receiving unemployment in Washington must accept offers for suitable work after being laid off due to COVID ​unless​ they can provide acceptable reasons for refusing to do so.

Accepting Suitable Work is Required

Unemployment rules require you to search for work and accept suitable employment. This doesn’t mean that you must accept any job offer. Each state defines “suitable” differently, but it generally means that your wages must be close to what you earned at your last job, the work must be safe for you to perform and the job’s duties should correspond with your previous work experience. Turning down interview while on unemployment can make it more difficult for you to find a new, suitable job.

Criteria Differences for Suitable Work

The term “suitable work” is broad, so each state has its own rules for defining suitability. According to the New York State Department of Labor, suitable work is any work you can reasonably perform through your past training and experience.

Some states have more detailed criteria than others, so it’s wise to learn the criteria before going on a job hunt. Many states allow you to turn down work if you believe that it is unsafe and most don’t expect you to take a major pay cut unless you’ve been out of work for a long time. Commute times and accessibility by public transportation also affect suitability. Some states, such as Washington and California, assess the average travel times for workers in your community to determine whether you can turn down a job because of a long commute. Other states set more precise guidelines: Arizona considers a commute of up to 30 miles, or a drive that takes 90 minutes or less, as reasonable.

Reporting Refusals to Unemployment

Your unemployment agency may expect you, or an employer, to file a report when you decline an offer of work. The unemployment agency may contact you to find out whether you had good reason to turn down the job. Keep notes on the job offer and your reasons for turning it down so that you can explain your decision to the unemployment agency representative.

Unemployment Length Matters

If you have a hard time finding work, unemployment rules may require you to lower your expectations and take a job that doesn’t pay as well, that involves work that you don’t like or that involves a longer commute. In Tennessee, the newly unemployed can turn down jobs that pay less than their previous salary. Long-term unemployment, however, reduces that number to as low as 65 percent.

Consequences for Refusing a Job

If your unemployment office determines that you turned down a suitable job, you may lose your unemployment benefits. If this happens, you can appeal the unemployment office’s decision, though you usually won’t receive benefits through this process. Working with an experienced employment lawyer can potentially increase your likelihood of having your benefits reinstated after turning down a job the unemployment agency deemed suitable.

The larger unemployment check may be nice now, but you may regret staying home from work later.

As millions of Americans lose their jobs and small businesses struggle to stay alive through shelter-in-place orders, key provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act may be having unintended consequences.

The CARES Act was enacted by the federal government in March, as legislators moved to provide immediate economic relief to American households and small businesses feeling the pinch of the pandemic economy. The CARES Act dramatically expands state unemployment benefits to help households hang on financially through these unprecedented times. Unfortunately, those robust unemployment benefits may be too generous, as some workers are declining offers from former employers to return to the workforce.

When and how to turn down a job - even in a down economy

Image Source: Getty Images

At issue is the $600 weekly supplement to state unemployment checks, enacted by the CARES Act. In many states, that extra $600 doubles or even triples unemployment payouts. Consider Alabama, which previously had a maximum weekly unemployment benefit of $275. The additional $600 increases that maximum to $875, which would be an income increase to anyone who was formerly making less than $45,000 a year. Even in Massachusetts, where benefits are the highest in the country, the extra $600 equates to a “raise” of 73%.

A big unemployment benefit versus a smaller paycheck? That’s not an easy choice to make in normal times, when there isn’t a contagious virus lurking outside your home. Certainly, remaining unemployed does satisfy some immediate needs. On the simplest level, you don’t have to go outside and you can still pay your bills. But there are longer-term benefits — for you, your employer, and the economy — associated with making the tough choice to go back to work. Here are four of them.

1. You may regret staying home later

The $600 supplement is a temporary benefit that expires on July 31, 2020. Starting on August 1, your benefit will return to the normal amount allowed by your state. That’s probably somewhere in the range of 40% to 45% of your previous working income.

If you do choose to sit tight at home until July, you won’t be the only one hitting the job market this summer. The Economic Policy Institute predicts a nationwide unemployment rate of 15.6% in July of this year. To put that in perspective, the highest unemployment rate experienced during the Great Recession was 10% in October 2009.

Passing on an opportunity to work today could leave you in dire straits later, when your employment benefit drops and jobs are hard to come by.

2. You may lose benefits like health insurance

You earn more at your job than just the paycheck. Though we don’t usually quantify them, healthcare and retirement benefits are worth a pretty penny. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, benefit costs on average account for nearly 30% of an employee’s total compensation.

Health insurance will be an expensive benefit to replace. Premiums for replacement coverage will be well more than what was being deducted from your paycheck, since employers usually pass on only a portion of those costs. You’d have to extend your health insurance through COBRA, which is notoriously expensive, or purchase a plan on the healthcare marketplace under a special enrollment period.

The loss of retirement plan benefits, such as a 401(k), may not be as impactful in the short term. But it could be very expensive later on. Your savings progress will stall out, unless you are disciplined enough to keep setting money aside without those payroll deductions. Longer-term, that will cost you thousands in missed contributions and lost earnings.

3. You may disqualify yourself from unemployment

Normally, you are supposed to accept suitable job offers while you’re receiving unemployment. You can’t reasonably argue that an offer to resume a job you already had isn’t suitable. But there’s still a gray area. Under provisions in the CARES Act, you do qualify for unemployment if you turn down a job for a coronavirus-related reason. You might need to care for your children or a sick spouse at home, for example. In the absence of those reasons, it goes against the spirit of unemployment to decline a viable job offer.

4. You may put your employer in a tight spot

Under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), established by the CARES Act, small businesses can apply for enough money to fund eight weeks of their payroll costs. They can also use the money to pay for certain overhead expenses, including mortgage payments, rent, and utilities. These are loaned funds that will be forgiven, as long as employers meet certain requirements:

  • PPP recipients must keep employees on the payroll or quickly bring back employees that have been furloughed or let go.
  • At least 75% of the forgiven amount must be used for payroll.

If the employer’s salaries and wages decrease or the funds are used for other purposes, the employer will lose eligibility for loan forgiveness and have to repay some or all of the PPP funds. By declining an offer to return to work, you will make it more difficult for your employer to qualify for loan forgiveness. At a minimum, your employer may try to replace you quickly and you won’t have the option to come back to your job later. Worst-case scenario, your employer can’t replace its employees, doesn’t qualify for loan forgiveness, and can’t generate the revenue needed to repay those funds.

More than the money

You’re right to wonder why you should return to work for less than you can make staying at home. It’s a tricky question, for sure, especially if you have young kids or the job doesn’t offer much in the way of benefits. Here’s some food for thought. While there’s no way to predict how the economy will respond in the next three or six months, it’s highly likely that the employment picture will be unpleasant for the rest of the year. If going back to work now insulates you from a dreary job market later, it may just be worth it — assuming you take the appropriate steps to stay safe and healthy.

You completed a job search, applied for the job, had the interview and were offered a position. You accepted it but now, have decided that it is not the best option for you. What do you do? In this article, we discuss things to consider when declining an accepted job offer, how to do it gracefully and professionally and also provide a declined job letter template and sample to help you write your own.

Making the decision to reject a job offer

Searching for a new job can be an exciting process, especially when you receive the offer of a job for a company that you had a successful interview with. You may have immediately accepted the offer because you were delighted at the possibility of working with them, but your circumstances changed, another job offer arrived in the mail or after thinking it through, you decided that the job was not the best fit. It happens. This said, if you’ve changed your mind, you need to contact the employer as quickly as possible and with the right etiquette.

Guide to writing a job offer rejection

Understanding the process of declining an accepted job offer can help you feel more confident. Here are the steps you should follow to write a letter rejecting a job offer you have already accepted:

1. Be certain about your decision to reject the job offer

You should take your time to consider your decision. You must make sure that you are absolutely certain that you do not want the job. It may be useful to write a list of the advantages and disadvantages of rejecting the job that you have already accepted before reaching out to the employer.

2. Check your contract

You may have progressed to the stage of signing an employment contract with your employer. If this is the case, you must read your contract thoroughly to find out what terms and conditions are listed with regards to terminating your employment. You may find that there is a time frame that allows you to reject the offer of employment.

3. Act quickly

While you should consider your position carefully and take the time to read your contract, it’s important that you act as quickly as possible once you have made the decision to reject the job offer. Your employer will appreciate you notifying them promptly and will be more likely to respect your decision. They will likely need to find a replacement for the position that you accepted and may be able to offer the job to another candidate that was interviewed.

4. Think about alternatives

Consider what you might be willing to accept as an alternative to rejecting the job offer. Ask yourself if there is anything that the employer could offer you that may make you reconsider working with them. Think carefully about these possibilities before you contact the company. If you think a higher salary, fewer hours or different responsibilities will make you reconsider declining the offer, consider renegotiating the terms of your employment. If you think the job would require too much of a time commitment due to a long commute, consider asking about the possibility to work remotely. Or, if you decided that you are unable to work full time because you want to go back to school, see if they’ll work with your schedule.

If your decision is based on personal circumstances, consider asking the employer if they can give you extra time to make a decision. Your situation could change and allow you to accept the offer.

5. Use a straightforward and honest approach

You should always be honest with the employer about your reasons for declining an accepted job offer, but use tact and avoid insulting the company. Keep a positive, professional tone and be concise.

6. Show gratitude

It is important to thank your employer for the opportunity that they have offered you. Let them know that you enjoyed meeting them during the interview and that you were impressed with the company. Focus on the positive experiences you had with them and the things that you liked about them. You may want to work with this employer in the future or find your interviewer working with a different company that you interview with so always remain positive and grateful.

7. Pick up the phone

While you may be nervous to phone or meet with your employer to deliver the job rejection to them, there are advantages to doing so. Calling the employer first is professional, personal and gives you the opportunity to explain your circumstances before sending the letter. This can improve your chances of preserving a positive relationship with them. Once you have had this conversation, you can send an official letter or email declining the offer.

8. Learn from the experience

After you have declined the job offer, take steps to learn from this experience and try to prevent it from happening again in the future. Before accepting another job, consider the offer carefully and ask for a longer period of time to decide if you need to.

Template

Here is a template you can modify for your own use to decline a job offer that you have already accepted:

[ Your Name ]
[ Your Address ]
[ Your City, State and Zip Code ]
[ Your Phone Number ]
[ Your Email ]

[ Hiring Manager or Recruiter’s Name ]
[ Company Name ]
[ Company City, State and Zip Code ]

Dear [ Name of Hiring Manager ] ,

Thank you so much for the offer for the position of [ Job Title ] to join [ Name of Company ] .

I am very grateful for the time you have spent considering me and for offering me the opportunity to work with you and the team. I was impressed with [ Name of Company ] and can see why you have been so successful.

Unfortunately, after careful consideration, I have decided that I must decline your offer. My circumstances mean I am now unable to join you at [ Name of Company ] . [ Offer a brief, honest description of the reasons you are unable to accept the role. ]

I thank you for the opportunity and wish [ Name of Company ] continued success.

Example

Here is an example of a letter declining an accepted job offer using the template above:

Robin Leigh
206 North Street
New York, NY 10055
(555) 436-2221
[email protected]

Jo Ellal
Brogan Accounting

100 Down Avenue
New York, NY 10031

Thank you so much for the offer for the position of Accounting Trainee to join Brogan Accounting.

I am very grateful for the time you have spent considering me and for offering me the opportunity to work with you and the team. I was impressed with Brogan Accounting and can see why you have been so successful.

Unfortunately, after careful consideration, I have decided that I must decline your offer. My circumstances mean I am now unable to join you at Brogan Accounting. My mother has become unwell and I must return to Europe to help care for her. I plan on leaving the USA in the next few days and will likely be away for six months.

I thank you for the opportunity and wish Brogan Accounting continued success.

Looking for a job is a job in and of itself. You have to search for the right gig, update your résumé, write a some cover letters, and then go on interviews — all without any guarantees. So when you get that coveted offer, it seems inevitable that you’ll accept. But how do you decline when it turns out the opportunity isn’t quite right?

Getting that far in the interview process likely means you have at least some fond feelings for the company you’re about to turn down; you may even want to work for them at some point in the future. So, you need to make sure you decline graciously.

“If you can’t come to a place where you both are comfortable, no harm, no foul. The hiring manager will understand, especially if you’ve gone back and forth in terms of the offer you were looking for,” says Angela Santone, the executive vice president and global chief human resources officer for Turner. “But I think you always have to be mindful and gracious, and thank the individuals for their time, the interviews, and the investment that they’ve provided you. You never want to be in a situation where you’ve burned that bridge.”

Santone suggests following up after you decline with a handwritten note that expresses your gratitude again, and extends an offer to stay in touch.

“Then, you’re expanding your network,” she explains. “Just because you didn’t take a job with them doesn’t mean that you can’t have a relationship.”

Read on for three more key tips in saying “no” to a job offer.

Talk It Out — Off Email

“Part of the job-search process is, in fact, declining offers,” says Mark Gasche, a career management leader at the loan-refinancing company at SoFi. The two main mistakes he says people make: leaving a voicemail that’s brief, difficult to interpret, and leaves no room for dialogue; or writing an email that feels impolite and can be forwarded around. (You don’t want your terse/awkward “no” to become a viral hit at the office.)

People usually go with the route of least resistance out of fear of confrontation. Instead, the best thing to do is contact the person who has worked with you most during the process and ask if they have time to discuss where you are. That might not always be someone from HR, Gasche says. Call whoever it is on the phone and be honest, he suggests — but not too honest. For example, if your reason for saying “no” is that the manager you interviewed with rubbed you the wrong way and you’d really prefer not to report to them, you might want to keep that to yourself.

“If there was something that you viewed as negative, I wouldn’t go there. There’s just no point,” he says. “You may run into these people again someday.” Of course, if your interviewer(s) exhibited any truly inappropriate behavior that needs to be reported, that’s a separate — and necessary — conversation to take up with HR.

Don’t Make It All About The Money

Even if compensation is the main reason you’re turning a job down, try to explain more broadly why the opportunity isn’t right for you. There’s no shame in doing what’s best for you financially, but pinning your entire rationale on money might make it seem like you were only interested in the position for the cash. (Something you probably didn’t say during all those interviews — otherwise you wouldn’t have gotten so far.)

“It’s key to be really thoughtful in explaining why you’re declining, and to illustrate that you’ve thought this through on a deeper level,” says Kelli Dragovich, the SVP of People at Hired. “It’s also important to be very respectful and communicate that in a way that helps build a relationship. I wouldn’t decline in a form that’s impersonal, especially when you’ve gotten so far down the line. You’ve invested a ton of time in them, they’ve invested a ton of time in you, and to tie that off in a five-minute phone call does wonders.”

“I’ve seen folks decline offers where it was like, ‘No. Because of the comp. That’s it,’ and it was very shallow and abrupt,” she explains. “Of course comp may be an element, and that’s okay, but it can’t just be that. I think it needs to be a little bit more grounded.” Dragovich says she declined two offers before starting at Hired and is still good friends with the CEO of one of the companies.

“I didn’t talk about the comp or the title,” she says. “I talked in a thoughtful way about why the [other] opportunity was right for me at that time, and other qualitative aspects of the role — both short-term and long-term — that made more sense for me.”

Be Decisive

Don’t talk yourself out of declining! It’s hard to feel like you’re disappointing someone, even if you’re making the right choice for yourself. But if you’re too indirect when you decline out of fear of seeming “mean,” you risk giving the wrong impression.

“Give an explanation that sounds reasonable, and keep it brief,” Gasche says. “If you open it up to things that they could negotiate, they will. They might say, ‘Well, Mark, if that’s your concern, then we’ll give you more money, or we’ll give you more this.’ And then what do you do? Because if that was the problem and they just solved it, you should be accepting.”

Regardless, don’t forget that giving a sincere but firm “thanks but no thanks” isn’t the same thing as being cold. If you want to keep things friendly (and you genuinely enjoyed making a new connection), Gasche suggests saying something like, “One of the bright spots in this whole process was getting to know you. I hope we can stay in touch.”

“That’s a graceful and positive exit,” Gasche adds. “If that hiring manager ever goes somewhere else, they may even call you with a new opportunity. It’s the savvy job interviewer who keeps those relationships alive for another day.”