How to Decline a Job Offer? The Top 12 Dos and Don’ts

Declining a job happens all the time. As much as we constantly search for jobs, there could be a situation where, although you’ve just been offered one, you don’t want it. It could be due to different reasons such as getting another job with a far better opportunity, being offered a lesser deal compared to what you hoped for, or you just feel you aren’t a good fit for the company. Whatever the reason might be, the conclusion is that you have to decline the job offer graciously without losing your reputation. How do you politely reject a job offer?

As detailed in this article, there are some steps to follow to decline a job offer. But before you delve into that, you must do a background check on the company, as this Peoplefinder article claims, to have a general idea of the kind of people who work there. It will help you understand better how to pass the message across without ruining anything.

How to decline a job offer
The art of declining a job offer – Dos

How to Turn Down A Job Offer?

Turning down a job offer without burning a bridge is an art. You should master it. Most people don’t know how to decline a job offer politely. Don’t be one of them. Now, let’s get started on the steps on how to decline a job offer graciously:

Step 1: Do a Final Gut Check

Remember that there’s no going back once you inform the company of your decision, so you want to be certain that you are making the right call. Also, consider that you will be making a bad representation if, after rejecting a company, you go back to ask for the same offer. Before you hit that green button, do a final gut check. Ask yourself valid questions, including why you are turning down the offer and if you might regret it later. If you still have second guesses about this, you might want to hold off on making a move or ask for help from a professional who can give you the best advice.

Step 2: Act Quickly

While it is advisable to take your time to think through your decision, you also don’t want to keep the offer waiting for too long. Most companies would give you a window period to accept the offer, but if they don’t, you still have to respond on time. It will help them to act quickly by filling the position as soon as possible with someone who is perhaps in the waiting line, and they might be more disappointed if you make them miss that opportunity by procrastinating.

Step 3: Choose a Medium

What should be the best way to break this unexciting news? While there are different means of communication to get across to them, it’s always best to use a medium that is more comfortable and won’t lead to any misunderstanding. You could start by using the same medium they used to extend you the job offer; if it was via email, reply with your decision, and if they left you a voicemail, return the call. While email is a common professional means of communication, it is often better to place a call instead to ensure they understand you and that the discussion ends on a good note. You could send an email and follow up with a phone call or just the email if it would take longer to get across to them via a phone call.

Step 4: Show Appreciation

A lot of time, effort, and resources must have gone into the hiring process, and you are now about to decline the offer. It is only important that you start with a thank you to let them know you do not take any of that for granted. You must appreciate them for considering you among many other applicants who might have also submitted their resumes and attended interviews. You can also mention one or two things you admire about the company. It helps set the tone of the conversation that is about to follow and gives them a good impression of you.

Step 5: Give a Reason

The employer or hiring manager would like to know why you are declining their offer, so you have to provide a good, brief reason. This is especially important if you have spent a lot of time interviewing and going through the job hiring process to get to this point. While you don’t necessarily have to go into details, you can highlight some key points. It is also best to be honest, but you should be careful if your reason for leaving is specifically related to the company.

Step 6: Provide a Recommendation

You don’t necessarily have to do this, as you probably don’t have a referral anyway. However, if you have a referral that fits perfectly into the job, this would be the best time to chip that in. Whether or not the person gets hired is not the major concern, but this simple act says a lot about you, your personality, and your attitude toward the situation.

Step 7: Keep it Open-ended

Declining a job offer shouldn’t automatically mean burning the bridge. Round this up by letting them know you would like to keep in touch to stay up-to-date on future opportunities that you might want to grab. You may also want to take a step further by contacting the few people you had a rapport with during this process to grab a coffee sometime later. If there’s a conference coming up and you would most likely meet them there, let them know you look forward to seeing them.

How to turn down a job offer
The art of turning down a job offer – Don’ts

What Should You Never Do?

While the steps above are there to guide you on the best practices to follow on how to reject a job offer, it’s easy to ruin everything with a simple mistake. Here are a few things you should not do when declining a job offer:

1. Be Brutally Honest

While it is advisable to be honest when stating your reasons for declining the offer, you should not be brutally honest. For example, if you think they have terrible employees or their work culture isn’t great, you shouldn’t outrightly spell that out to them in a way that could get them irritated. It’s always best to skip that part, as it could come off as insensitive. You could rather just let them know you are looking for better career opportunities.

2. Ignore

While you might not feel great about going through this process to turn down a job offer, the worst thing you would do is to ignore it. It is simple courtesy to acknowledge this offer that has probably taken you and the company a good amount of time and effort to arrive at. Most companies would frown at a late response that turns out negative; how much more when there is no response at all? It says a lot about you when you completely ignore them rather than letting them know your decision. Also, remember you have your reputation to keep, and you don’t want to burn bridges.

3. Make Promises You Can’t Fulfil

In the process of trying too hard to impress, you might end up hurting yourself while making the wrong move. For example, don’t tell them you are open for negotiation if you do not intend to stay regardless of what they extend. If your mind is made up and it doesn’t have anything to do with payment review, then there’s no point mentioning the low salary offer as your sole reason for declining. Also, be careful not to promise that you will come back to work for them when you aren’t sure what the future holds.

4. Speak Ill of Them

You might have had a fair share of the company’s attitude towards you or from any of the employees during the process. While it might be disheartening to you, you don’t have to speak ill of the company unnecessarily. Unless, of course, it is a case that must be called out, such as fraud or sexual harassment.

5. Accept Multiple Offers

This might be you trying to play smart, but it is not a wise decision, especially if both companies are competitors in the same industry. It might be tempting, especially if there are remote options, but it could ruin your reputation in the long run. Stick to the company that offers better benefits and summon the courage to decline the other graciously.


Turning down an offer is not an easy thing to do, but you can make the process smooth and gracious by following the right steps, as explained in this article. Always consider your happiness and satisfaction when deciding on a job, and try not to settle for less just to please the employer. Although they won’t be happy with your decision, being tactful with it will help lessen the blow and make them remember you positively. The job market is smaller than you think, and this simple, tactful move could be what would change your life and career in the future.

Put these steps to work and go for your dream job while still maintaining your reputation at the job you turned down. Remember that the goal is to strive to be better always, and you will never get there by staying in your comfort zone and never making a daring move.

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