How to Politely Decline a Job Offer (9 Easy Ways + Examples)

So, you’ve got a job offer. That’s awesome, but hold on — what if it’s not quite what you’re after? How do you say no without burning bridges or seeming ungrateful?

In this article, we’ll walk through the steps to politely decline that offer with tact and leave a good impression, even when you’re saying no. From crafting the right message to sealing the conversation with class, I’ve got you covered.

Ready to gracefully say “no“? Let’s dive right in!

Be Sure About Your Decision

When you have to turn down a job offer, being certain about your decision is key. If you’re feeling unsure, take a bit more time to think it through. Does the job fit your career goals? Does the company culture match what you’re looking for? 

If something feels off, it probably is. Once you are sure, it’s easier to be clear when you communicate your decision. Being sure helps you talk about your decision confidently.

"Make up your mind. The first thing that you want to do is to sort everything out. Sometimes, while we are declining a job offer, we are not 100% sure that we want to say no. You must have the resolve to say no before actually dropping an offer."

— James Fyfe | Co-founder, Portant

Express Gratitude for the Offer

Now that you’re sure, start with a thank you. It’s a must. They took the time to consider you, and that deserves a nod of appreciation. Keep it short and sweet. 

For example, you could say:

  • “Thank you for the opportunity.”
  • “I’m honored to have been chosen.”
  • “I appreciate the time and effort you’ve put in.”

Saying thanks shows good manners and leaves a nice lasting impression. Who knows, maybe down the road, they’ll think of you for another role that’s a real match!

Choose the Appropriate Communication Channel

So, how do you send your message? If the company has been communicating with you mostly through email, an email is likely appropriate for declining the offer. 

However, if you’ve had extensive interactions over the phone or in person, a phone call might be more suitable.

Choosing the correct method shows that you understand professional etiquette. It also ensures your message is delivered in the most effective and respectful way. Remember, this isn’t just about delivering a message; it’s about how you present yourself and maintain relationships.

Be Prompt in Your Response

Timing is everything. Once you’ve made up your mind to decline a job offer, it’s good practice to let the company know as soon as you can. They’re waiting to hear from you, so let’s not leave them hanging. Within 24 to 48 hours is a good rule of thumb.

Why rush? Well, companies often have tight timelines for filling positions. By responding quickly, you help them move forward without unnecessary delays, which they really appreciate. Think of it as helping them out while they still have plenty of other options to consider.

Be prompt with your reply and get to the point—you're declining their offer. Don't be ambiguous, but try to soften the blow with qualifiers, such as "regrettably," "unfortunately," "after careful consideration..."

— Rick Brandon, PhD | Founder and President, Brandon Partners | Author, "Straight Talk"

Be Honest About Your Reasons

Honesty goes a long way. If the job isn’t right for you, say so, but remember to be tactful. You’re not trying to burn any bridges.

Here are some tips:

  • Be clear about the deal breakers. If it’s about career growth, say so.
  • If the nuts and bolts don’t match up (like salary or location), it’s okay to mention it.
  • No need for hard feelings; softening the blow with a “thank you” is always a good idea.

This way, you keep things honest and positive without stepping on any toes.

Provide a Clear but Brief Explanation

When you turn down a job offer, it’s good to explain why but keep it short and sweet. You don’t need to go into all the details—just a couple of sentences will do. Your aim is to be transparent enough that the employer understands your decision, but there’s no need to spill all the beans.

Here are some examples:

  • “I’ve decided to focus on roles that align more with my current career path.”
  • “After much thought, I realized I’m looking for a position that offers more [insert specific need, like ‘leadership opportunity’ or ‘creative freedom’].”
  • “I’m grateful for the offer, but I’ve committed to a role that closely matches my career objectives.”
"By explaining why the job offer is not suitable, the candidate gives the hiring manager an invaluable insight into what other candidates might be looking for, which may assist them in their next recruitment drive."

— Nicholas Hopkins | Associate Director, VIQU

Keep Your Tone Professional and Courteous

When declining a job offer, how you say it is just as important as what you say, so make sure your tone is professional and polite.

Your words should be thoughtfully chosen, and your tone should reflect appreciation for the opportunity. After all, someone saw potential in you and offered you a role, and that deserves a gracious response, right? 

This isn’t the moment for casual banter or negative comments about the experience. Even if there were aspects you didn’t enjoy, this communication isn’t the place to air them.

Offer to Stay in Touch

Now that you’ve gracefully declined the offer, why not leave the door open for future possibilities?

Try these out:

  • “I’m impressed by your company and would welcome the chance to work together in the future.”
  • “Please keep me in mind for future opportunities that might be a better fit.”
  • “I’d like to add you on LinkedIn to keep our lines of communication open.”

These are simple and friendly and open the door for future interactions without making it awkward or forced. Keeping in touch with the people you meet during job searches can also lead to other opportunities, advice sharing, or even referrals.

"You can't predict the future, so voice the possibility for future collaboration. For example: "My situation could change; I hope my decision doesn't eliminate future potential.""

— Rick Brandon, PhD | Founder and President, Brandon Partners | Author, "Straight Talk"

End on Good Terms

Wrapping up your job offer decline politely is crucial. Ending on good terms means being thoughtful and considerate when communicating your decision.

What to include:

  • A line of thanks. Something like, “I am truly grateful for the opportunity.”
  • A note of well-wishes. “I wish the team all the best moving forward” shows no hard feelings.
  • A friendly sign-off. “Best regards” or “Warm wishes” can be a nice touch.

You can also briefly mention something positive about the experience. Maybe the interview process or you were particularly impressed by the team’s passion. A little positivity goes a long way.

More Expert Insights

“Make sure they understand you really were serious about evaluating the opportunity as your next career move and were not “‘shopping around,” as that leaves a bad impression in the panel’s minds.”

— Jennifer Loftus | Founder and CEO, SwingSearch

“Generally speaking, when turning down a job offer, you want to be gracious and grateful. This isn’t about people-pleasing but leaving those you talk to with a good impression.”

Jessie DaSilva | Executive Coach and Biz Consultant

“When declining a job offer, you never want to make it about the company that made the offer. Instead, make it about your own career goals and what you need right now at this stage of your professional development.”

— Christa Juenger | VP Strategy and Coaching Services, Intoo

6 Examples of Declining a Job Offer

After walking through the careful steps of politely declining a job offer, let’s put our guidelines into practice. Below are examples showing different reasons and methods to gracefully and professionally decline a job offer:

Example 1: Declining Due to a Better Offer

Subject: Appreciation for Your Offer

Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name],

Thank you so much for offering me the position of [Job Title] with [Company Name]. I have thoroughly enjoyed our discussions and am impressed by the dedication and passion of your team. 

However, after careful consideration, I have decided to accept another offer that aligns more closely with my current career goals and family needs.

I sincerely appreciate your offer and hope to keep in touch. I am hopeful that our paths may cross again in the future.

Warm regards, 
[Your Name]

Example 2: Declining Because of Personal Reasons

Subject: Grateful for the Opportunity

Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name],

I want to express my gratitude for being offered the position of [Job Title] and for the warm welcome extended to me by everyone at [Company Name]

After much thought, I have decided to decline the offer due to personal reasons that require my immediate and ongoing attention.

I hold your team in high regard and am hopeful we can remain in contact moving forward. Thank you again for this incredible opportunity.

Best wishes, 
[Your Name]

Example 3: Declining Due to Job Fit

Subject: Decision on Job Offer

Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name],

Thank you for the opportunity to join [Company Name] as [Job Title]. It has been a pleasure learning about your innovative projects and excellent team. 

However, after serious consideration, I have concluded that the position is not the perfect fit for my current professional objectives.

I am grateful for the chance to interview and learn from this experience. I hope we can keep in touch, and I look forward to any potential opportunities to work together in the future.

Thank you once again for your understanding.

[Your Name]

Example 4: Declining After Reevaluation of Career Direction

Subject: Decision on Offer for [Job Title]

Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name],

I am thankful to you and your team for the time and effort invested in my application for the [Job Title] role at [Company Name]. But it is with respect that I inform you of my decision to decline the job offer.

Upon deep reflection, I have decided to steer my career in a direction that better suits my long-term professional aspirations and pursue opportunities that are more aligned with these goals.

I deeply appreciate the offer and am honored to have been considered. I hope to remain in touch and am grateful for the possibility of future interactions.

Thank you again for this valuable opportunity.

[Your Name]

Example 5 (Phone Script): Declining Due to Role Alignment

“Hello [Hiring Manager’s Name], thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. I’d like to express my sincere gratitude for the offer to join [Company Name] as a [Job Title]

After careful consideration, I’ve concluded that the position doesn’t align with my career goals at this time. I sincerely appreciate the opportunity and want to thank you and the team for the warm and professional interview process. 

I hope we might stay connected professionally, and I look forward to potential future collaborations. Thank you again, and I wish [Company Name] every success.”

Example 6 (Phone Script): Declining Due to Location

“Hi [Hiring Manager’s Name], this is [Your Name]. I want to thank you again for offering me the position of [Job Title]

I’ve given it a lot of thought, and unfortunately, I must decline the offer primarily due to the location of the job, as it would require a move that isn’t feasible for me at this time. It was a hard choice because I was genuinely excited about the opportunity to contribute to your team. 

I greatly respect what you are doing and would love to keep the connection alive if future opportunities arise closer to my current home. 

Thank you for your understanding, and I look forward to keeping in touch.”

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I receive a counteroffer after declining?

Evaluate the counteroffer carefully against your reasons for declining. If it addresses your concerns, it might be worth reconsidering your decision. However, ensure that your choice aligns with your long-term career goals and personal needs.

Should I negotiate the job offer before rejecting it?

Yes, negotiating a job offer before rejecting it is often beneficial, especially if your concerns pertain to aspects like salary, benefits, or flexibility—components that can usually be adjusted. Here’s a streamlined approach:

1. Show appreciation: Thank the employer and show genuine interest in the role.

2. Identify needs: Pinpoint exactly what changes you require in the offer.

3. Detail requests: Clearly state your needs in a straightforward manner.

4. Be open to compromise: Prepare to meet halfway, understanding both parties may need to adjust.

5. Maintain professionalism: Keep the tone respectful and constructive.

6. Evaluate the adjusted offer: 
Decide if the new terms meet your expectations or if you need to decline.

How can I avoid receiving job offers that I’m likely to decline?

To minimize this situation, be clear about your job preferences and requirements from the start of your job search and during interviews. This helps ensure that the offers you receive are more closely aligned with your career goals and expectations.

Will declining a job offer hurt my chances with a company in the future?

Not if you handle it correctly. Companies understand that not every job is the right fit for every candidate. If you are gracious in your decline and the reasons are genuine, most employers will not hold it against you for future opportunities.

Final Thoughts

Declining a job offer is never just about saying no. It’s about respecting the opportunity and the people who offered it while staying true to your career goals.

Remember, how you handle this can open paths to future opportunities just as much as it can close them. So keep it kind, clear, and professional—your future self will thank you.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

As you found this post useful...

Share it on social media!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Photo of author

Robby is a multimedia editor at UpJourney with a journalism and communications background.

When she's not working, Robby transforms into an introverted art lover who indulges in her love for sports, learning new things, and sipping her favorite soda. She also enjoys unwinding with feel-good movies, books, and video games. She's also a proud pet parent to her beloved dog, Dustin.