Proper Etiquette for Declining a Job Offer

During a job search, most candidates apply and interview for multiple positions before finding the right one. This makes receiving that perfect job offer an even more rewarding experience.

But, there may come a time when you find yourself staring at an offer for a position that’s just not the right fit. Or, if you’re really lucky, you could have to decide between multiple offers.

Job offers can come and go. Regardless, you need to treat each job offer that comes your way seriously. Give an offer the time and attention it deserves. If it does not meet your expectations, you can always try to negotiate with an employer. On the other hand, if a job offer consistently falls short, you can decline it. And when you do, you should do so in the right way.

There are many reasons for turning down a job offer whether it is in lieu of a better opportunity or the treacherous commute you’d have to take. Whatever the reason, it’s important that you decline the offer with skill and grace to uphold your professional reputation.

Here are a few tips for using proper etiquette when saying no to a job offer.


Promptly notify the employer.

As soon as you decide that you cannot or do not want to accept an offer, let the employer know immediately. This gives the company time to offer the position to their second-choice candidate or move on and find another candidate to fill the opening. It also lets the company know that you are not “playing the field” by leveraging their offer with another, which could be considered unprofessional.


Make a phone call.

Even though the conversation might feel awkward, a true professional will decline an employment opportunity by phone. You can make the call to an employer as soon as you’ve decided you’re not going to accept their offer.

At the beginning of your call, thank the individual who extended the offer. Let this individual know how grateful you are for the opportunity and state how much you respect him or her and their organization.

Then, politely let this individual know that you won’t be accepting their offer. Be honest and explain why you feel like you are ready to move on from the proposal. If you are open to negotiation, you may be able to receive an improved offer. Conversely, if you are steadfast in your decision, you can let the employer know.

There is no obligation to explain your reason for declining a job offer. If an employer pressures you for a reason, you can always say “I don’t feel like this role is a good fit for me at this time.”

By being vague, you won’t put yourself in danger of saying something that could hinder any future conversations with the organization. Yet, you should also make it clear that the organization knows that its time interviewing you was well spent and you were invested in the process right up to the end.  


Follow up with an email.

After you’ve verbally declined the offer, write a formal email thanking the hiring manager and interview panel again for their time and offer. In the email, let any recipients know you’d like to stay in touch and wish them well in the hiring process.

If the position wasn’t the right fit due to timing or other external factors, ask the employer to keep you informed about any future opportunities. Doing this will further cement the fact that the employer made the right choice in offering you the position in the first place. It also closes your conversation with the employer on a positive note. If a new opportunity becomes available down the line that aligns with your requirements, this employer is unlikely to hesitate to reach out, too.


Be concise.

The key in offering your declination both in verbal and written form is to be concise. Say thanks, politely decline the offer, wish the employer well, and that’s it. The more time you spend trying to explain your rationale, the greater the risk of saying something that will offend the employer and burn bridges.


Move on.

It’s important that you don’t spend time feeling guilty, professionally or personally, for declining the job. Only you know what your threshold is for accepting or declining an offer. You have to make the best decisions for YOU when it comes to your career.


Connect with the employer on social media.

Engage with your interviewer and anyone else you enjoyed meeting with during the interview process on LinkedIn. This allows you to stay up to date on the company and grow your professional network. It may open the door to a new career opportunity down the line, too.


Keep the lines of communication open.

Don’t close the door on a future opportunity with an employer. If the employer reaches out to you at a later date, listen to what it has to say. Even though a career opportunity may not have been ideal at the moment, it may prove to be a terrific option in the months and years to come.


Looking for an exciting new position you won’t want to decline?

Let the experienced recruiters at BOS Staffing help. At BOS, we go out of our way to match our candidates with jobs that really suit them. We know that not every job is the right fit for every person, and we won’t rush you into a job that’s not quite right. We’ll work together until we find just the right match. Give us a call today or complete the form below to take the next step in your career.


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