top of page
Search

How to Respectfully Turn Down a Job Offer (With Scripts)

Updated: May 8


An image of a woman considering how to decline a job offer she received

So you got a job offer and realized you might want to turn it down. Maybe you got a better offer, or maybe you came to realize it just wasn’t the right fit.


Either way, saying no can be uncomfortable. You may feel afraid that you’ll offend the other person or burn bridges with them. 


But there is a graceful way to write an email declining this job offer that actually brings the hiring team into your professional network and even keeps you open to opportunities with them down the road. Let’s find out how.


How to Write an Email that Declines a Job Offer


Studies suggest that when people have a ready-made script for saying no, they're more comfortable turning down requests they'd rather not fulfill. So, I hope the scripts below can empower you to say no to an offer that isn’t a good fit.


In most cases, you’ll send this email after you’ve received your offer and have had a negotiation conversation. If you haven’t yet negotiated your offer, but you might say yes if the pay was a little higher or the benefits a bit better, then it’s worth trying to negotiate before rejecting the offer. If you’d like some tips, here is a guide to negotiating your job offer.


But if you do feel sure you want to turn down the offer, make sure to structure your email with the following four sections:


  1. Show them appreciation

  2. Say no and give a brief reason

  3. Keep in touch

  4. Close with appreciation


Let’s dive into each one.


Express appreciation for the opportunity


Start your email by sharing your gratitude. The hiring process is an energy-intensive affair for both sides. The hiring manager has put a lot of time and consideration into picking you for the role.


It’s best to come in humbly and thank them. This also sets a positive tone for the rest of the email.


Here are some sample scripts to start your email. I recommend that you personalize them to sound natural to you:


  • Dear [Hiring Manager], Thank you so much for this offer! I genuinely appreciate this opportunity and feel grateful for all the time and energy you’ve put into getting to know me.


  • Hi [Hiring Manager]! Thank you for the email. I really appreciate this offer and feel grateful that we got the chance to connect throughout this process.


  • Hi [Hiring Manager], Wow, I feel really grateful to have been chosen for this role, especially because I know there were so many strong applicants. And I appreciate the thoughtfulness you put into this interview process.


Say no clearly and give them a brief reason


After you’ve expressed appreciation, it’s time to break the news. Don’t hide your “no” in vague or fluffy language. Be clear, brief, and professional. 


It’s also helpful to give them a reason. If you don’t provide a reason, they’ll be left wondering why you’re turning down the offer and if there’s anything they could do to get you to say yes.


But if you provide a reason for why you’re turning down the offer, it’ll help give them closure and clarity. It will also help you come off as honest and transparent instead of elusive or cagey.


Here are some possible ways to phrase this:


  • After a lot of consideration, I’ve decided not to accept this offer. While I loved the team and culture here at [Company Name], I ultimately decided to go with another job offer that better aligns with my long-term career goals.

  • However, after thorough contemplation, I’ve realized that the offer from [Company Name] is unfortunately just outside of my salary constraints.

  • I’ve put a lot of thought into it, and I’ve decided to decline the offer. This was a difficult decision because I loved all the team members I met and I’m impressed with the company. However, I came to realize that to excel at this role and keep up with company expectations, I’d have to sacrifice a little bit more work-life balance than I’m comfortable with.


Offer to keep in touch


Just because you’ve decided not to walk through the door with this company, it doesn’t mean you have to slam the door in their face. You can keep it open to future communications and possibly even to future job opportunities.


Offering to stay in touch creates a feeling of connection because it sub-communicates that while you are a “no” to the opportunity, you aren’t a “no” to the person or company.


You don’t actually need to take on any new responsibilities to keep communications open. Just expressing the desire to stay in touch is enough. However, if you want a concrete action, and if it feels appropriate, you could connect on LinkedIn. 


Here are a few options for how to phrase this part of the email:


  • I’ve enjoyed getting to know you and would still love to stay connected, and have just sent you an invitation on LinkedIn. 

  • If any other opportunities open up at your company that you think I could be a good fit for, I would be grateful to be kept in the loop.

  • Even though this isn’t the right fit for right now, I’d still love to stay connected to [Company Name]; please feel free to reach out for any reason.


Close with appreciation


Even though you already expressed appreciation at the beginning of the email, it’s a good idea to finish the email off with further sentiments of gratitude. 


Saying no is a touchy communication. So the more warmth you can embed into this email, the more likely it is to leave a positive taste in the recipient’s mouth.


Here are some examples of how to close the email:


  • Thank you again. I feel honored that you considered me for this role, and I wish you nothing but success.

  • It was genuinely enjoyable getting to know you and the rest of the team, and I wish you all the best.

  • Again, I appreciate all the time you invested in this process. Thank you for understanding, and I hope the candidate you do land on is a total all-star.


Email Scripts for How to Decline a Job Offer


You’ve got all the ingredients to cook up this email. Now, let’s put them all together for some full sample email scripts. 


Please remember, because declining a job offer is an extremely sensitive communication, I urge you to avoid copy and pasting anything below. Your email should be personalized and sound like you. Blatant copy and paste will leave a bad taste in their mouth.


With that said, here are scripts for a few common scenarios to inspire your email.


You said yes to another company where the role was a better fit


Dear [Hiring Manager],


Thank you so much for this offer! I genuinely appreciate this opportunity and feel grateful for all the time and energy you’ve put into getting to know me.


After a lot of consideration, I’ve decided not to accept this offer. While I loved the team and culture here at [Company Name], I ultimately decided to go with another job offer that better aligns with my long-term career goals.


I’ve enjoyed getting to know you and would still love to stay connected and have just sent you an invitation on LinkedIn. 


Thank you again. I feel honored that you considered me for this role, and I wish you nothing but success.


The compensation package doesn’t meet your needs


Hi [Hiring Manager]!


Thank you for the email. I really appreciate this offer and feel grateful that we got the chance to connect throughout this process.


However, after thorough contemplation, I’ve realized that the offer from [Company Name] is unfortunately just outside of my salary constraints.


If any other opportunities open up at your company that you think I could be a good fit for, I would be grateful to be kept in the loop.


It was genuinely enjoyable getting to know you and the rest of the team, and I wish you all the best.


You didn’t resonate with the company culture around work-life balance


Hi [Hiring Manager],


Wow, I feel really grateful to have been chosen for this role, especially because I know there were so many strong applicants. And I appreciate the thoughtfulness you put into this interview process.


I’ve put a lot of thought into it, and I’ve decided to decline the offer. This was a difficult decision because I loved all the team members I met and I’m impressed with the company. Though I came to realize that to excel at this role and keep up with company expectations, I’d have to sacrifice a little bit more work-life balance than I’m comfortable with.


Even though this isn’t the right fit for right now, I’d still love to stay connected to [Company Name]; please feel free to reach out for any reason.


Again, I appreciate all the time you invested in this process. Thank you for understanding, and I hope the candidate you do land on is a total all-star.


Tips for How To Decline the Job Offer Gracefully


In addition to the email template, here are a few more tips to consider when you decline the offer:


  • Respond as soon as you can. It’s best not to procrastinate. This company is trying to move forward with its hiring process, so the sooner you can respond, the better. Otherwise, you might come off as inconsiderate.

  • Don’t ghost the employer. On a similar note, don’t leave the employer hanging. It can be so easy to just vanish from the situation and avoid the crunchy feelings that come with being honest. But if you respond with a thoughtful email, you can keep the hiring team in your network.

  • Consider setting up a call. For higher-level positions or if you've developed a genuine rapport with the hiring manager, you may want to decline the offer over Zoom before following up with a formal email. This will make the experience more personal and up the odds that you both leave on a good note.


Takeaways on Declining a Job Offer


If you received a job offer that you don’t think is a good fit, just remember these tips when writing your email:


  1. Start by sharing appreciation

  2. Say no clearly and provide a brief reason

  3. Offer to stay in touch

  4. Close with appreciation


And if you’d like any support in finding the right job or getting clarity on your career goals, you might be interested in working with a career coach from the International Association of Career Coaches.


Good luck!

16 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page