How to Turn Down a Job Offer

Recently, I had the opportunity to be offered a new position in my company. This was a new department they were creating and it was a chance to get in on the ground floor and create a new product with a new team. I thought it sounded exciting, but I was so new to the company I didn’t think I would even be considered.

The day of the application deadline for this new team came and my VP contacted me asking why I hadn’t applied. He encouraged me to do so and kindly offered to talk with me one on one if I had any concerns. He also let me know the specific qualities he saw in me that would make me the perfect candidate. So… I applied.

After applying I was approached by other managers and co-workers with advice. (This ranged from GREAT! to DON’T DO IT!) I ended up making my decision before I even had the offer officially on the table. I let me my manager know, and he gave me some professional advice. He said if I already knew that I 100% would not be accepting the position, it would be wise to let them know. This way I didn’t burn any future bridges I needed to cross. This hadn’t even occurred to me! I researched a little about turning down job offers – and found a few nuggets of wisdom.

From Forbes Magazine:

“So if you determine turning down a job is the right decision, the key is to do it tactfully, respectfully, sincerely, and professionally. Put yourself in their shoes, Teach says. What would you want to hear from a candidate who just turned you down and in what tone? ‘You never know when you may apply for a job with that company again or interview with the same hiring manager, perhaps at another company in the future, so keep this in mind.'”

From Business Insider:

“‘Many job seekers overlook the opportunities to generate goodwill when declining a position, especially when they have another offer in hand,’ Taylor explains. ‘But with a little thought and diplomacy, you can actually enhance your professional reputation and career during what can seem like a daunting task.’

Hiring managers will be understanding — and usually even supportive — if you handle the situation professionally.”

All the other ideas expressed a similar formula that I tailored to my situation. Here is my take on how not to create an enemy when you turn down the job offer!

Be Prompt & Thoughtful

This is what my manager was especially concerned with. He knew they would spend hours and a good amount of money on creating my offer. If I could help them and let them know my feelings before they had gone through this, it would help eliminate any negative feelings. So as you know, you should be letting them know! IF you are still undecided, then of course don’t worry about doing this until they have made their official offer.

Say Thank You

Thank them for the learning experience in the interviews, for considering you, for answering your questions, and for their time. Expressing your appreciation will help you by showing them you aren’t stuck up and sneering at their possible offer. This also helps show consistency and sincerity since in the interviews you most likely expressed interest.


Get to the point! Whatever your reason is, you just need to explain it clearly and briefly. The hiring manager is typically not going to be interested in a 2 page email explaining your internal struggle. Personally explore why you decided you felt the position wasn’t a good fit: your current position was where you needed to be, you accepted another offer, pay rate of the position would not support your living, etc. Then tell them that! Being direct is appreciated in the professional world!

Leave the Door Open

Part of the reason you’re letting them know you are no longer interested in the position is to leave the door open for future opportunities. If that hiring manager sees another opportunity that they feel may fit your needs better, they may even reach out directly. The point is, leave letting them know you’d like to stay in contact and be considered for future opportunities.

I hope this helps all the young professionals out there as you seek to propel your career forward! If you have any professional advice to give, leave it in a comment below! If you have questions that you’d like me to address, leave them below or contact me directly!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: