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How to Politely Decline a Job Offer by Email or Phone (+10 Email Samples)

Different people have different reasons for rejecting job offers. However, the question of how to politely decline a job offer is something they all struggle with.

After all, you don't want to be stuck in a job just because you can't say no. 

Perhaps you've already accepted another job offer, the salary they offered doesn't meet your expectations, or maybe you simply don't think the company is a good fit.

Whatever your reasons, it's always a good idea to be polite and provide some level of detail when you're refusing a job offer. 

We'll provide you with 10 job rejection email samples that you can tailor to your own situation as well as useful tips for rejecting a job opportunity.

How to politely decline a job offer?

  1. Think again. If you don't like one aspect of the offer, such as the salary, try to negotiate better conditions first. 
  2. Give a reason. Not providing a reason will make you look rude. Giving a short explanation will keep things cordial and ensure no bridges are burned. 
  3. Be polite. Let them know you appreciate their time and the opportunity.
  4. Don't waste time. If you have made the decision to decline a job offer, do it as quickly as possible. Even though it's uncomfortable, it's a fair thing to do.
  5. Consider future networking. As mentioned before, you never know if your paths don't cross in the future. Propose to remain in contact with them.
how to decline a job offer

How to reject a job offer by email? [+6 email samples]

It depends on the company and its preferred communication channel. Some smaller companies prefer phone calls, while larger companies find it more convenient to use email. It's safe to say that it's less awkward to politely decline a job offer by email rather than during a phone call. 

Here are six sample job rejection emails for different circumstances. Feel free to copy and edit them to suit your needs.

Sample: Declining a job offer when the job is not a good fit

It's nobody's fault. Sometimes everything seems fine, but your gut feeling is telling you the company is not a good fit. Here's what you can say:

Sample: Declining a job offer due to a better job opportunity

This is a very common situation. Try not to be negative towards the company you are turning down, and say something like this:

Sample: Declining a job offer due to salary

Money is often a touchy subject. However, nobody will blame you if you've decided on your limit. An answer like this will keep things cordial and not reveal too much detail. It might even lead to negotiation.

Sample: Declining a job offer after accepting another job

You received two offers, but you can only accept one. That inevitably means having to turn down the other. Here's how:

Sample: Declining a job offer after you already accepted it

This is a tricky situation, but it happens. That's life. Before sending an email, check your contract to make sure you can legally decline. Here's an example of what to say in an email: 

Sample: Declining a job offer due to personal reasons

Life happens, and circumstances change. Everyone will understand that. Here's what you can say to stay professional and polite: 

How to respectfully decline a job offer but leave the door open?[+2 email samples]

As mentioned before, you never know what life brings. If you end things on bad terms, it's almost guaranteed you're never getting a job in that company again. There are many ways to propose staying in touch, which often depends on the company. 

Are they big on LinkedIn? Do you know any of the people there personally? Alternatively, do they engage in networking events? Suggest a way to stay in touch that aligns with the company culture.  

Here’s an example of how to phrase your refusal of an offer while proposing to stay in touch via LinkedIn:

Another example of how to turn down a job offer while leaving the door open:

How to turn down a job offer over the phone

As mentioned before, sometimes it's necessary to decline a job offer over the phone. While it's definitely a lot more stressful to do this, or anything, over the phone, following a few simple steps may save you a sleepless night. 

One thing to ease your nerves is the fact that you're not alone. According to Glassdoor's 2020 Job Rejection Analysis report, in the US, over 17.3% of job offers are rejected. So remember, you're not offending anyone by declining an offer. It happens all the time. 

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Here are 5 steps to help you decline a job offer over the phone.

  1. Call in the afternoon. Everyone's calmer after a meal. Start the conversation by asking if it's the right time to call. In case the person is not available, try calling later. Don't leave a message saying you're declining the offer. 
  2. Structure your answer. You should start by saying you appreciate the offer. Then proceed by saying you're declining the offer and tell them why. Finally, wish them and the company the best and thank them for their time. Ideally, scribble down a very short list on a piece of paper and have it in sight – it'll help in case you stutter. 
  3. Calm down your voice. It's important to sound confident. If you tend to have a shaky voice in stressful situations, do a breathing exercise, and remember it's not a big deal. 
  4. Be polite and professional. Don't start the phone call by saying: "Hey there! Soooo..." 
  5. Be honest. When they ask you for further explanation, and you try to make stuff up, you'll stutter. Be honest about why you turned down the offer. After all, if the problem can be solved, it may even lead to a negotiation of better conditions! 

Did you decline a job offer without having backup up your sleeve? Don't hesitate and create a killer resume with Kickresume’s resume builder or through the mobile app.

How to decline an internship offer

It's completely normal for students to send out resumes and apply for multiple internships at the same time. If you're lucky, you'll get multiple offers. Hence, you have to know how to politely decline an internship offer. 

It's worth leaving the doors open when it comes to turning down an internship. Young people should gain as much work experience as possible, hence it's possible you may want to do an internship at that company in the future. 

Generally, try to be as positive as possible about the company and express your gratitude for the offer. Don't say anything negative. Ideally, propose to stay in touch with them and ask to connect on LinkedIn or other relevant social media

How to decline an internship offer [email sample]

How to ask for more time to think about a job offer

Changing jobs is stressful. Deciding to work for a different company or in a different industry is a very important step in life. No wonder you want to be absolutely sure about making the right choice. 

You just got a job offer. Everything seems great; you really enjoyed speaking to the team and liked the company’s culture. You have to decide by Monday.

But is it really the right fit for you? Having a few extra days to make that decision would ease your mind and help you come to a conclusion. 

But, how to ask for time to think about a job offer? And how to delay accepting a job offer? After all, you don’t want to seem like you’re having second thoughts and make the company assume they should hire someone else. 

How to ask for more time to consider a job offer [email sample]

Top reasons for declining a job offer 

Did you know that one out of every six employment offers in the U.S. is turned down? 

The reason behind this is simple. As there are plenty of job opportunities available in the market, you're no longer pressured into accepting the first offer you get.

But what are the actual top reasons for you to turn down a job offer?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, low wage takes the cake as the top reason for declining job offers. 

Other common reasons include personal reasons, inconvenient working hours, and long commutes.

The full results of the survey can be found in the infographic below.

You will find more infographics at Kickresume Blog

Key takeaways

  • Be polite and express your gratitude for their time as well as the job offer.
  • Provide at least some level of detail for the refusal. Not providing any reasoning will seem unprofessional.
  • Act quickly. Don't make the company wait several weeks while you procrastinate and delay declining the job offer.
  • Don't forget to say "thank you" and "I appreciate"
  • Ending things on good terms is beneficial. You never know how your circumstances might change. 
  • Don't stress too much. Hiring managers deal with people turning down job offers all the time. 
  • Christy Morgan HR Expert
  • Christy's word of advice

    Whether you’re declining a job interview invitation or a job offer: don’t ghost the recruiter. I know it feels awkward to say no, but you never know when ghosting may come back to haunt you in future (😊). For job offers, I recommend politely thanking them for their time. That you’re grateful for their interest. However, due to a change in your circumstances, unfortunately you can’t go ahead at this time. And thank them again. If there’s a specific reason (e.g. salary too low) feel free to mention it. You never know… they may come back with a better offer if you’re polite!

    Christy Morgan, Resident HR Expert

This article was recently updated. The original article was written in 2021.

  • Klara Cervenanska, Junior Writer at Kickresume
  • Klara Cervenanska
    Career Writer
    Klara recently graduated from the University of St Andrews in Scotland. After having written resumes for many of her fellow students, she got an opportunity to write full-time for Kickresume. Klara is our go-to person for all things related to student or 'no experience resumes'. At the same time, she has written some of the most popular resume advice articles on this blog. When she's not writing, you'll probably find her chasing dogs or people-watching while sipping on a cup of coffee.

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