As you hold the job offer in your hand, you feel a sense of accomplishment. The offer is validation of the fact that you convinced the employer that you are the best person for the role they advertised.

Yet…the offer terms do not give you a good feeling about how you will fit into their work culture. After evaluating the offer carefully and negotiating with the employer over multiple rounds of discussions, you are now convinced that this is not an offer you would like to accept.

How can you decline the offer with grace, tact and professionalism?


Man and woman walking outside between office buildings.
Man and woman walking outside between office buildings.

# do not think of declining a job offer as a rejection — or as being unprofessional.

The truth is, organizations have their constraints and policies around what they can or cannot offer for different roles — and it is as painful for them to say no as it is for you.
And thus, declining a job offer for the right reasons is not unprofessional. Just as the employer has the final say in whether or not the candidate is a right fit, so do you, as a candidate, in deciding
whether the offer is right for you. It is widely accepted that candidates can turn down an offer — how you decline the offer demonstrates your character and caliber.

# first, be sure you are declining for the right reasons.

Evaluate the offer with an open mind and take time to make an unbiased decision. Be sure that your points of rejection of the offer are based on sound reason. Remember, there is no right or wrong in
your decision – it is something you must feel good about — in foresight or hindsight.
Do not procrastinate on your decision. Ask for a reasonable time to consider the offer, and be prompt to convey your decision within the requested timeline. This will help them move ahead with their
hiring process.

Smiling woman receptionist helping a hotel guest.
Smiling woman receptionist helping a hotel guest.

# use the right medium to decline the offer.

Should you email the hiring manager to give your decision, or should you call? Our recommendation is to do both.

Call the hiring manager or recruiter on the phone to thank them for the offer and their efforts at negotiation, and politely tell them that despite the combined best efforts, you have to turn down their offer. Having given the personal touch, follow it up with an email, referring to the conversation, and conveying the same message and feeling.

If you cannot get them on the phone after repeated efforts, do not delay further by waiting to get them on a call. Send an email, informing them that you could not get them on the phone, and you hope to speak to them when they are free.

# make the tone of your message professional and courteous.

Remember, the hiring team has dedicated significant time and effort to your candidature. They have been as eager as you were to find the right fit and they believe that you are the best option.

The first thing to acknowledge and appreciate in your message with thanks is this aspect of your employer — both on the phone and in your email. Keep your tone professional, courteous and genuine. Everyone likes to be recognized, and this will go a long way in creating a positive impression about you. Who knows, you may meet again under more successful circumstances in the future.


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# give a good and brief reason for declining the offer.

You have your own reasons for turning down the offer, and while you do not have to give the hiring team a comprehensive account of it, give a brief and plausible reason.

Do not criticize or say anything negative about the organization or any individual (you can put down the points you appreciate about the company but do not over do it, or make it sound forced to neutralize your rejection of the offer). You can say that the offer does not align with your future career plans or the salary does not meet your expectations. Be clear, concise and polite in your narration — and wish them the very best in their steps forward. If possible, be open to being in touch with them.

It is tough to decline a job offer without feeling a twinge of guilt. But accepting an offer that does not fit in with your aspirations can be detrimental for both you and the employer.


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