The job hunt is never easy. Actually, it’s usually stressful, tedious and overwhelming.
Though every job search is unique, all of them include resumes, applications, interviews and (eventually) a job offer. Regardless of the circumstance, receiving a job offer is always exciting. It’s really rewarding when a company chooses you at the end of their interviewing process.
So, if you have a job offer lingering, congratulations — you worked really hard to get here.
In the end, however, no matter how you felt at the beginning of your journey with them, you might have to decline a company’s offer. This could be for any number of reasons — a change of circumstances at home, another offer you were considering and decided to accept, a counteroffer from your current employer, etc.
When this happens (and trust us, it probably will at some point), there’s definitely a right and wrong way to extend a declination to a company. Since there’s no telling what the future might hold for your career, you’ll want to get this right.
At Anderson Trucking Service (ATS), our hiring teams extend hundreds of job offers every year (this number increases as we continue to grow). Sometimes candidates decline these proposals. Over the years, we’ve learned that handling this process can be kind of tricky for many people. In extreme cases, navigating this incorrectly can actually hinder a candidate’s relationship with a company.
You’ll certainly want to avoid this when declining a job offer in the future.
In this article, we’ll help you decide the best approach for turning down an employment opportunity by outlining the following:
- How to decline a job offer
- Whether it’s bad to decline a job offer
Feel free to jump around but make sure to check out the email and phone call sections — we’ve included templated examples for you to reference going forward.
How to Decline a Job Offer
Declining a job offer doesn’t need to be complicated. Don’t overthink it. Instead, make sure to be timely and professional when you decline a job. State the reason you’ve decided to pass on the opportunity in a concise, respectful way using the hiring manager’s preferred communication method (over the phone/via email).
Don’t overshare any personal details or make this process overly drawn out. Be sure to stick to the decision timeline you’ve previously agreed to with the employer.
Approach the situation with respect and gratitude. Keep in mind: if you do this correctly, the employer should happily consider you for future employment opportunities.
Generally speaking, the only ways you should decline a job offer are over the phone or via email; leaving a voicemail, ghosting the employer or sending a text message won’t cut it.
How to Decline a Job Offer in an Email
If you need to decline an employment opportunity, sending a well-written email is a great way to do so — especially if most of your communications have been by email.
Here are some dos and don’ts for declining a job offer over email:
- Keep your declination concise and to the point
- State your main reason for declining the job offer
- Thank the recruiter/hiring manager for their time and efforts
- Wish them luck in their efforts to fill the position in the future
- Ask for additional time to consider the offer when you know you can’t accept it
- Add considerably more detail than is necessary
- Be rude or condescending (especially if pay is your reason for declining)
- Forget to thank them for taking the time to consider you for the position
With these things in mind, here’s an example of a good declination email.
Dear [hiring manager name],
I’m writing to thank you for taking the time to consider me for the [name of position] role [company name] is looking to fill.
Unfortunately, after consideration, I’ve decided to decline your job offer. I can’t move forward with this opportunity because [enter your reason for declining].
I really enjoyed getting to know you and your team and wish you all the best as you look to fill this role in the future.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Thank you again for your time and consideration.
While this is only an example template, an email message similar to this will help you decline a position and remain on good footing with the employer.
How to Decline a Job Offer Over the Phone
Informing an employer that you need to decline their offer is usually news that’s best delivered over the phone. This helps to ensure nobody is confused about the reason for your declination. It also allows you to express your regrets and gratitude respectfully.
When you make this call (or answer it if they’re calling you), be polite and get to the point quickly. Make sure you express the reason you’re declining (they may be able to address it) and thank the employer for their time and consideration.
Like doing this via email, declining a job over the phone comes with a list of dos and don’ts.
- Answer/call at the time you’d previously agreed to touch base
- Be professional and polite in your communication
- Include your reason for declining
- Offer a thank you at the end
- Forget to call or ghost an employer
- Leave a voicemail with your declination
- Be resistant to discuss your reason for declining
- Agree to “give it more thought” if you know you don’t want the job
Here’s an example of how this conversation may play out:
[Employer]: Hello, how are you today?
[You]: Hi, I am well. How are you?
[Employer]: Excellent! I’m calling to check in on the job offer we extended to you. Have you come to a decision?
[You]: I have. Unfortunately, due to [reason for declination], I can’t accept your company’s offer. Thank you very much for your consideration, though.
[Employer]: I’m sorry to hear that, thank you for taking the time to review our offer and go through the interview process.
[You]: It was my pleasure, thank you for your consideration and best of luck filling this position.
[Employer]: Yes. Have a nice day.
[You]: You too.
In the end, you don’t want this conversation to leave a company feeling slighted or like their offer was taken lightly. If your conversation sounds like the one above, you’ve done a good job.
Is it Bad to Decline a Job Offer?
It’s not bad to decline a job offer. As a job candidate, you need to be truthful with yourself. Finding a job that aligns with your values, passions and career goals is very important. Accepting a job that doesn’t isn’t good for anyone (you or an employer).
Companies don’t hold declinations against job candidates, especially if they were courteous throughout this process. As such, if you need to decline a job offer, do it. Just make sure to have the proper conversation(s) when you do.
What’s the Right Way to Decline a Job Offer?
Deciding not to accept an employer’s job offer can be difficult. It can be hard to turn down a job you were once really interested in and applied yourself to get. That said, sometimes things change (for a variety of reasons), forcing you to decline a job offer.
When this happens, there’s a right and wrong way to handle this situation. Here’s what you should keep in mind:
- Make sure to be prompt and timely in your declination of a job
- Concisely summarize the reason(s) you have to decline
- Be polite and respectful when declining
- Decline either over the phone (no voicemails) or via email
- Don’t forget to thank the hiring manager(s) for their time and efforts
Employ these strategies to decline a job the right way. You don’t want to end up in a situation where you can’t get hired by the company in the future if things change.
How to Choose the Right Company to Work For
Often, people decline jobs because at some point in the hiring process, it becomes apparent that the company isn’t a great fit. While it’s good when people don’t accept offers from companies they don’t want to work for, save some time by knowing what to look for from the start.
To help you avoid a situation where you need to decline a job offer, read How to Choose the Right Company to Work For [Finding the Perfect Match]. If you have any questions, please let us know — our hiring team is here to help you in any way you need.