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How to Gracefully Turn Down a Job Offer?

Job hunting is always an exciting time. But when all is said and done, there are only going to be three potential outcomes.

  • You will be rejected.
  • You will be successful and accept the position.
  • Or you will be successful but are going to reject the offer.

If it is the third option, you are going to need to know how to gracefully turn down a job offer.

how to gracefully turn down a job offer

There Might Be Many Reasons

The fact that you’re going to reject it could be for many reasons. Maybe you didn’t like the company. Maybe you didn’t like the conditions, or possibly you got a better offer at another interview. But whatever the reason for the rejection, you are going to have to politely refuse, and it needs to be handled correctly. Some might wonder why?

Well, firstly, it is just courtesy. In other words, treat others how you wish to be treated yourself. Secondly, a polite refusal offers a level of professionalism. After all, you never know if you are going to run into this company or the interviewer again.

how to gracefully turn down job offer

Basically, to handle this correctly, there are three things that you need to make sure you do:

1 Demonstrate your Appreciation

This goes without saying, really; after all, it is just a normal courteous thing to do. But it needs to be a little bit more than just a cursory thank you. How you handle it will depend to a certain extent on who you are replying to. If it is a Human Resources department, then you will approach it slightly differently to if it is a department head.

To Human Resources

If you are replying to Human Resources then interviewing, and preparing for the interview is part of their job. They will have spent time going through your CV. They may even have talked to people who know you or have worked with you. In any event, it has taken some of their time, for which you need to show appreciation.

To a Head of Department

If you are replying to the head of the department who wanted you the same thank you’s and niceties will apply. But you need to add a little extra.

They will have taken time out of what was probably a busy day to spend an hour or so with you. If they were impressed with you, they might well have shown you around the office or place of work. That may have involved meeting some of your potential work colleagues.

Other Considerations

After your departure, they may well have had to answer questions about you from members of staff. They may well have praised you and probably answered all your questions about the job, and prospects, etc. Or perhaps they were disappointed, so a sincere letter will be required. You haven’t got to apologize, but you have got to offer them sincere and, if possible, specific thanks for their time.

Many of the responses to the head of a department might also apply to the Human Resources interview.

So the letter should include:-

  • Thanks for your time.
  • Thanks for considering me.
  • For answering questions.
  • You enjoyed meeting all the people and finding out more about the position.
  • Thank you for your offer.

how to gracefully turn down the job offer

2 The Reason

This is the most sensitive part of the whole exercise. How much do you tell them? There is a school of thought that says you should be completely open and just say it like it is.

My opinion on that is that it is not a good idea. If you are going to start going into why you aren’t going to be taking up their offer, then you have to give reasons. Yes, they have given up their time to interview you. If that is a Human resources person, that is what they are paid to do.

But what can you say that isn’t either disparaging about their company or the people there?

  • The benefits are better at the other company.
  • The office is nicer.
  • You prefer the people.
  • The job is more interesting elsewhere.

I think any of those answers might create some offense. And a thing to bear in mind is that you don’t know if you will ever apply again. Or if you will ever be interviewed by the same person somewhere else.

So What Can You Say?

Not very much is my advice. In fact, the least said, the better, in most cases. They don’t need to know how the benefits might be better elsewhere. Or that their job is less inviting than other similar positions. All they need to know is your answer. There is unlikely to be an inquest.

And if they come back to you with a better offer, maybe that is something you would consider. That should be clear in your mind before you write your letter turning them down.

Be brief and not too specific. Thank them for their time and the offer. After being rejected, the person doesn’t want a lengthy apology about why.

3 The Close

Signing off will be the final thing you do. It will also be the last thing you leave them with. Therefore there should be plenty of pleasantries. Not crawling all over them type comments. Avoid that. Just some good old-fashioned thanks.

Some reasonable things to say might be:-

  • It has been a pleasure to meet and get to know you.
  • I hope our paths will cross in the future.
  • I wish you success and all the best.

Life Can Be Cut Throat

…and the Business World can be a bad place to be at times. It is competitive, it is at times insulting, and it is often full of pretense. You only have to take a look at social media to know there are some awful people out there. Stay above it and be professional. Life has a funny habit of taking you back at times. If you treat everyone the same, there can be no comebacks at a later date.

Being professional means not only behaving like it but looking like you are. A nice briefcase such as the Tassia Luxury Leather Executive Case Attache Briefcase creates a good impression, So does a nice pen; I personally like this affordable Parker IM Fountain Pen.

And you don’t want to arrive at an interview after you have been caught in a shower, so get yourself the Lilyxin Premium Automatic Compact Umbrella Windproof.

Still Not Feeling Fully Confident Yet?

Maybe finding out What Motivates You? can help you get started.

Secondly, let us help boost your confidence with these online reads such as You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, The Self Confidence Workbook, The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance, Self-Confidence Strategies for Women, and Unstoppable Self Confidence, The Confidence Gap: A Guide to Overcoming Fear and Self-Doubt which are all available in 2021.

Or perhaps having problems with your self-esteem? Then you’ll definitely want to take a look at the Stop Overthinking: 23 Techniques to Relieve Stress, Stop Negative Spirals, Declutter Your Mind, and what about Self-Esteem: A Proven Program of Cognitive Techniques for Assessing, Improving, and Maintaining Your Self-Esteem, the Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and into Your Life, as well as Get Out of Your Own Way: Overcoming Self-Defeating Behavior also available online.

Final Thoughts

Rejection comes in all shapes and sizes, and it happens to all of us. So when it comes to a job offer, it is never a nice thing to have to do. Therefore we should show a little bit of empathy to who we are dealing with.

It doesn’t matter how much you don’t want the job, disliked the people, or thought the whole thing was a shambles. Courtesy never hurt anyone. And turning down a job offer can be used to demonstrate your own professionalism. Because you never know where your business life is going to take you.

All the very best with your decision!


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About Calvin Miller

Calvin has over 20 years of experience in a leading employment agency in Tucson, Arizona, and is passionate about finding the perfect position for everyone who uses the companies services.

He lives with his wife, Annette, and their two sons Jake and Joseph.

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