How to Turn Down a Job Offer Professionally | How to Turn Down a Job Offer and Remain Professional

Applying for jobs is basically a full-time job itself, and there is excitement and gratitude when the offers start coming in. It feels amazing to be wanted by various companies after a long time of searching. When a job offer finally comes around, shouldn’t you be eager to accept it?

Maybe not. You may have applied to a less-desirable job in order to put food on the table, while also applying for a dream job, and in the end, both companies saw you as the perfect fit. When faced with multiple job offers, it’s not easy to gracefully accept one and turn the others down. Even when a company has made you a poor offer, you still want to appear gracious when you say, “thanks, but no thanks.”

You can pass on a job offer for any reason with grace and remain professional in the process. Here are a few tips and tricks for turning down job offers in different situations.

Good Company But Not a Fit For You

The interview was great, and you loved the people and the work culture. You got the phone call saying you got the job if you want it, but you really don’t. How do you say no to such nice folks and maintain a good relationship if circumstances should change?

In an email or phone call, share your positive feedback and appreciation. Tell them you were very impressed with the staff and work culture, but it did not end up being a fit for you at this time, saying something like:

“Thank you very much for the opportunity to interview with the company. I appreciate your rich work culture and history. It was great getting to know everyone. The position is not the right fit for me right now, but I would like to stay in touch if another door should open.”

It’s okay to state the missing element objectively, such as you’re seeking a different pay rate, more responsibility or other skill set that you desire to utilize in your ideal position. It’s possible the company may reevaluate their offer, and you could negotiate.

If you want this possibility to occur, don’t be afraid to speak up. State your desire to leave the door open should there be another position as a better fit. Send a handwritten note afterward to build open communication and your professional network.

You Didn’t Like the Company

There were one or more elements that didn’t sit well with you during the interview process, such as your observation of the work culture, the supervisors, services or products. You got a bad vibe.

If your rejection is a certain, resounding “no” in your gut, the easiest and most gracious thing you can do is to simply thank the company for the job opportunity. Indicate that the position isn’t the right fit for your career at this point. If there is anything positive you can say, say it:

“Thank you for the opportunity to interview with the company. It was very interesting to learn about the various ins and outs of your business. I am declining the position, however, as it’s not the right fit for my career at this point.”

Skip the criticisms and expression of dissatisfaction. They will generally go unaddressed and make you seem unprofessional. Your path may cross with someone else from this organization later in life, and it’ll be easier for all if you can nod and move on.

You Got Your Dream Job Somewhere Else

There is nothing better than achieving the milestone you’ve been working toward for your career growth. Take a moment to relish it, and then sit down and write down a thoughtful list of what you appreciate about your other offers. Turning down each job role may involve language such as:

“Thanks for the pleasure of interviewing with such a wonderful company. It made the top of my considerations, but I have to decline as I’ve accepted another position.”

Don’t diminish the positives of the company you reject. Everyone understands when you find that perfect fit. It’s really a once-in-a-lifetime feeling.

Salary Offer Is Too Low

Whether you like the company or not, the salary offer ended up being much lower than you would accept. If you liked the company, you should try to negotiate a higher salary before rejecting the company, using your experience to back up your counter offer. If the money doesn’t pan out, offer this graceful turn down:

“I was happy and very thankful to interview with the company, but due to the salary not meeting my needs, I must decline. Thank you again for your consideration.”

Sometimes a company will try to broker a last-minute salary negotiation when they see you’re going to walk, but don’t rely on it.

You’re Not Going to Relocate

Perhaps you missed the detail about relocation or thought you could pull it off, but it’s not going to work out after all. The job offer is great for someone in that area, but you can’t pick up your life and move on what is being offered. If negotiations fail, kindly pass on the job with a brief statement why:

“After much consideration, I’ve decided to continue my search as I won’t be able to relocate for the position. Thank you for your time. I enjoyed getting to know the company and staff very much.”

On the flip side, you may desire to stay put and pursue a job interest nearby that came up. It’s hard to decide if you want to relocate, and the pros of staying put may outweigh the cons. That’s okay to state as well. Keep it brief and pleasant.

Passing on a position is always a little awkward because you want to be gracious and not stir up any bad feelings. It’s possible to say no, stay courteous and keep the lines of communication open.

Keep your “thanks, but no thanks” brief and without negativity. If you’d like to stay in touch, say so, indicating that you’d like to keep your resume on file or hope you’ll cross paths later on. If you were especially impressed by a company, say so, because companies love to hear positive feedback.

You may feel like you should be saying “yes” when a job offer crosses your path, but saying “no” opens up doors to a better fit for you and the company you’ve chosen.

If you’ve found this post helpful, don’t forget to comment, share and subscribe to Punched Clocks for more career advice.

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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

1 Comment on How to Turn Down a Job Offer and Remain Professional

  1. Eslam Ahmed
    July 4, 2017 at 1:12 pm (4 years ago)

    This came on the very right time,
    I’m on my way to be interviewed in big hotel but I don’t think it’s the right position for me.
    That was really helpful, thank you.


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