How to Decline a Job Offer Professionally (Including Email Templates)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 20 May 2021

While receiving a job offer can be flattering, it doesn't necessarily mean you'll want to accept it. Whether you're seeking a higher pay rate, a shorter commute or just don't think the position is the right fit, the first step is to decline the job offer. Turning down a job is well within your rights while searching for the right job. However, doing so professionally and respectfully is important.

In this article, we discuss how to decline a job offer and provide customisable templates for common scenarios.

How to decline a job offer

Sometimes you may need to turn down a job in favour of your career development, a better salary or your happiness. Once you've made your decision, you need to let the company know. The steps below can help guide you:

Be sure

Declining a job offer is a big decision. Once you have turned down a position, it's unlikely that it will be offered to you again. So, the decision should be carefully considered. Take the time you need to consider your response. Reach out to the company if you have any unanswered questions holding you back.

Be timely

When offered a job, you'll usually be given a reasonable timeframe in which to consider the offer. If you choose to not accept the position, you should let the company know within the given timeframe. However, there's no need to wait for the day your answer is due. The sooner you can let the company know, the better. It helps them resume their process of filling the position without unnecessary delay.

Show appreciation

The recruitment process requires time, money and resources. So, when declining a job offer, it's important to show appreciation for the company's investment. Without being overly emotional, ensure you convey your gratitude through your communications. Thank them for their time, effort and consideration.

Keep it simple

Declining a job offer needn't be complex. When turning down a position, keep it short, simple and to the point. State what needs to be stated straightforwardly and honestly, while maintaining an appreciative tone.

Explain why you're declining the offer

You may feel hesitant to provide a reason why you are declining a job offer. However, it's important to understand that doing so can be beneficial to the hiring company. It can help them make sense of your declination and even enhance their hiring process in the future.

There are many reasons why you may choose to decline a job offer and you don't need to go into detail when explaining. For example, if it's because you don't feel it's the right fit, that's all you need to say. There is no need to then go on to explain why it's not the right fit.

Offer to stay in touch (if you want to)

If you had a great connection with the interviewer or may be interested in a different position with the company in the future, offer to stay in touch. You're not obligated to provide additional contact details. However, it can be a great way to develop your professional network and keep doors open for future opportunities.

Email templates for declining a job offer

Your reason for not accepting a position may determine how you structure your rejection letter. Below you'll find a few sample email templates for declining a job offer under a range of circumstances:

You have accepted another offer

Having multiple job offers is a great position to be in but it doesn't make declining the offer you don't want any less important. Maintaining your reputation and relationship with employers is key.

Example email template:

Subject line: Job offer - [your name]

Dear [title and last name of the recruiter],

I'd like to sincerely thank you for offering me the position of [job title] with [company name]. While it hasn't been an easy decision, I have chosen to accept a position with another company.

I'm grateful for the time you have taken in considering me for this role and wish you and [company name] all the very best in your future endeavours.

Thank you again for your consideration.

Kindest regards,

[Your name]

The job isn't the right fit

When declining a job based on it not being the right fit, you don't need to explain why it's not the right fit. Instead, you can politely explain that it's not suitable and leave it at that.

Example email template:

Subject line: Job offer - [your name]

Dear [title and last name of the recruiter],

Thank you very much for offering me the position of [job title] with [company name]. After much consideration, I have decided that it's not the right fit for me.

I appreciate the opportunity and the time you have taken in considering me for this position. I wish you all the best in finding a suitable candidate.

Thank you again for your consideration.

Kindest regards,

[Your name]

The job isn't the right fit (but you'd like to stay in touch)

Sometimes a job may not be the right fit for you, but you'd like to leave the door open for future opportunities within the company. In cases like this, it can be a good idea to mention your interest when you decline the offer.

Example email template:

Subject line: Job offer - [your name]

Dear [title and last name of the recruiter],

Thank you very much for offering me the position of [job title] with [company name]. After much consideration, I have decided that this role is not the right fit for me.

I appreciate the opportunity and the time you have taken in considering me for this position. I'm honoured to have had the chance to learn more about [company name] and would love to stay in touch in case any suitable positions arise in the future.

Thank you again for your consideration and I wish you all the best in finding a suitable candidate.

Kindest regards,

[Your name]

The salary isn't as expected

Often there are ample opportunities for salary negotiation before needing to decline a job offer. However, if the hiring company is unable to meet your salary expectations, you can explain this respectfully when you turn down the job.

Example email template:

Subject line: Job offer - [your name]

Dear [title and last name of the recruiter],

Thank you very much for offering me the position of [job title] with [company name] and for taking the time to discuss my salary expectations with me. Unfortunately, the salary offered does not meet my financial requirements and I am unable to accept this role.

I'm grateful for having been considered for this position and wish you all the very best in finding a suitable candidate.

Kindest regards,

[Your name]

When to decline a job offer

When job hunting, it can be beneficial to create a list of basic needs that you need to have met by your job. The list can consist of anything from career progression to company culture to the salary package. If you are offered a job that doesn't meet these basic needs or align with your values, it's worth considering that the position isn't the best fit for you.

It's hard to fully assess before going through the recruitment process. So, don't be concerned if you only realise a job isn't the right fit once the offer is made.

You may feel like you need to apologise for deciding to decline a position. With a professional, timely and respectful response, the hiring company is likely to be understanding of your intentions and appreciative of your honesty. There is no need to apologise. It's acceptable to turn down a job that is not in your best interest.

Focus on maintaining relationships

When considering how to decline a job offer, it's important to place a focus on maintaining relationships. You never know when or where your paths may cross again in the future. This is especially true if you're wanting to keep in touch with a company for future opportunities. Mentioning it when you decline a position is a great starting place. A carefully assembled rejection email can help you develop your network.

Once you have turned down the job opportunity it can be beneficial to get in contact with the company again soon. This can be in the form of a simple email to reiterate your interest in their business and share roles that you would be particularly open to.

For a recruiter to remember you, you need to put in some extra effort. Maybe they'll have a suitable role open in the future, or perhaps they won't, but either way, you're maintaining the relationship. Should they be hiring again, they won't have difficulty remembering you.