How To Politely Turn Down a Job Offer

The way you turn down an offer says a lot about your professionalism and there are ways of doing it with grace and poise

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Turning down a job offer could be difficult for the simple fact that you and the company have invested a lot of time and effort in the process. In some cases, you may have already started discussions with the new team on initiatives you would be involved with. Now it may feel awkward to decline the offer after crossing the finish line.


There could be multiple reasons for declining an offer – You have received another offer or multiple offers now and wish to go for the best one while declining the others. You discovered something about the role, company, future manager that made you reconsider the decision. Or your current company did something to retain you and you decided to stay back. Whatever be your reason for not accepting the offer, here are some tips on how to go about it:

1. Be prompt with your refusal - Procrastinating about telling the company does not help. It wastes both yours and the company's time and it looks unprofessional. Do not wait until the last moment to drop in your letter so that both you and the company could move forward. In many cases, the candidates tell the company on the day of joining or worse still just don't show up and give some generic excuse when contacted. There would be very rare scenarios that you make up your mind on the day of joining. To be fair to the company and let them know as soon as possible

2. Be brief and diplomatic - The reason for your refusal could be anything, be it less than satisfactory compensation, a different position than you wished for, or something else. You can choose not to reveal the exact reason and just say you have decided to stay back at your company or accepted another opportunity. Companies understand this as they know people do look for multiple opportunities simultaneously. This also avoids bitterness over issues like low compensation. But do understand that the recruiter/hiring manager was counting on you to join and this change in plan is going to affect them and not you. So even if the other party gets angry/irritated you should be as diplomatic as possible.

3. Be respectful and express gratitude - Even though you have chosen to decline the offer, the fact is that they did offer you a position in their firm. Thank them for their time and their consideration. This simple show of courtesy goes a long way in establishing your own professional credentials. It also leaves a door open for future employment opportunities with the employer. Some firms like Google might even allow you to skip the telephone screening rounds if you had an offer from them in the last few years and are applying again.

4. Try to Stay connected - Connect with the hiring manager on LinkedIn. This helps in two ways: firstly, it helps to foster connections which may be helpful in future and secondly, they might approach you again if they find a position suitable to your exact needs.

5. Send an email – After you have a face to face or phone conversation with the hiring team also send an email. It makes the recruiter/hiring manager's life also a little easier as there is no ambiguity that you are holding on for more salary negotiation etc. A polite and courteous behaviour is the hallmark of a true professional and it will hold you in good stead even when you are refusing an offer. The aim is to have a productive conversation with a company and if declining an offer is part of that conversation then that could be done graciously as well.