How to Politely Decline a Job Offer

At some point during their career, every professional is going to have to politely decline a job offer. Perhaps you were offered a better salary at another company, or decided you wanted to go in a different career direction. You could have even decided that you want to stay at your current company. Regardless of the reason, you now hold a job offer at a company you’ve spent weeks researching about and interviewing for. While it’s never easy to decline a job offer, it’s important that you’re professional, courteous, and polite. Let’s dive into how to do it right.

1. Politely decline the job offer within the time requested.

When you’ve received a job offer, you know that you are the company’s first choice to fill the role. However, it’s naive to think they weren’t interviewing other individuals, especially if they have to fill the role ASAP. To make sure you’re still setting the company up for future success, decline the role in the time requested by HR in either the offer letter or phone call. Not doing so may result in a huge inconvenience on their end, especially if the role is in a managerial or executive position.

If you’re unsure what the deadline is or the company did not give you one, GI Job recommends taking no more than “three work days” to make your decision. You can also always ask the company to clarify when they’d like you to respond as well.

2. Express appreciation for the job offer.

On the candidate side, you know the time investment it takes to apply, research, and interview for a role. It’s important to remember that there’s a time investment on the employer’s side too. And even though you have decided this isn’t the role for you, it’s still flattering to know that the company wants you on their team. Because of this, make sure you start your response off by thanking the company for taking the time out to meet with you, and for making the offer.

3. Keep your reasoning for declining the job offer vague.

When you’re interviewing for a new role, you shouldn’t let prospective employers know of their competition unless they specifically ask. In the same way, The Muse advises you should be vague, but truthful, about why you are declining a job offer. Some reasons you might be declining could be:

  • Finding a role better suited to your needs
  • Deciding to stay in your current role
  • Wanting to move your career in an alternate direction

Whatever the reason you have for declining the job offer, be honest and brief, and then move on.

4. Use it as a networking opportunity.

In today’s professional world, LinkedIn is key. So is networking. So just because you are declining a job offer doesn’t mean you should write off the whole company – burning bridges is never a good idea in one’s professional career. To avoid this, express your desire to stay connected in the future at the end of your declining message. If you’re not already connected on LinkedIn, send them a request. It could be something very valuable down the line.

While declining a job offer is tricky, doing it politely is simple as long as you know the right way to go about it. By following these steps, you’ll be guaranteed to politely decline a job offer and maintain your network and professionalism in the process.

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