An Expert’s Guide to Rejecting a Job Offer with Example Email Templates

Receiving a job offer can be extremely exciting. Whether you were actively seeking out a new position or not, a job offer is always flattering, and it could open the door for a very powerful opportunity to advance in your career.  Of course, not every job offer that comes along will be right for you.

Analyze The Situation

If you have received a job offer and you are considering turning it down, the first step in the process is to weigh your options and reassure yourself that this is the correct decision to make.

This consideration phase is important because, once you turn down that offer, it’s probably not going to be made available to you again.

Prior to officially declining the job offer that has been given to you, take a few minutes of your own time and think about why you are planning to reject the offer. Ask yourself:

  • What initially motivated you to start a new job search?
  • Why did you attend the interview with this company?
  • What interested you about this company?
  • What would make you reconsider the job offer?

The last question is especially important because, oftentimes, you can find yourself in a state of negotiation.

Rather than rejecting the offer outright, countering them with your reasons for why you can’t take it as-is, and then explaining what factors could lead you to accept it (i.e., a higher salary, more time off, work hours flexibility,etc.) often results in the company giving you those extra asks, or at least meeting you somewhere in the middle.

Now, if you decide that you simply do not want to take on a position at this company for whatever reasons, and you do not want to negotiate different benefits with them, the next step is to begin writing your rejection letter.

Craft Your Response

As an employee, this may be your first time in a position where you are the one writing a rejection letter. Currently, the ball is in your court. That leaves room for negotiation, but even if you want to reject the job offer altogether, it’s only professional to respond to the company in a timely manner.

How Should It Be Sent?

Your rejection letter can be delivered via postal service or through email. The latter is much more common, but the former may be used in some situations.

If you are rejecting your job offer via email, you may choose to attach the letter as a PDF with a professional letterhead. However, in most cases, simply writing your message in the body of the email will suffice.

Very rarely will the hiring process be handled so formally that you have to mail your rejection letter. Email is generally the best option.

Who Should It Be Sent To?

Your rejection email should be directed to the recruiter and the hiring manager or whoever reached out to you initially and you should also CC any person who you have had formal contact with at the company (not the receptionist), whether that’s the owner or your would-be manager.

Right before you send the email, you should give a quick phone call to the company and let them know why you’re turning it down.  

Why a phone call?  

Messaging within an email can be lost or misinterpreted, especially if writing is not your forte. I have been on both ends of this communication and every time I have received an email from a candidate rejecting an offer I always felt “why didn’t they pick up the phone?”, especially if my colleagues and myself have spent considerable time with the candidates during interviews and drafting letters of offers.

If you do not have the hiring managers number, leave a message with the receptionist or send an email requesting to schedule a call.

I can assure you that if you take this approach and for some reason in the future, you want to reconnect with that company they will be warmer and more open to reignite conversation if you have rejected an offer in this manner.

The Email or Letter

Follow your phone call up with a formal rejection letter to them. Having the discussion with them demonstrates your maturity.

Even if you aren’t able to call all involved parties individually, your written email can easily be forwarded to each stakeholder later so that they can read your words and reasoning first-hand.

How Soon Should You Respond?

It’s standard to take a few days or 1 week to review a job offer, however, deciding how soon you should respond to the offer really depends on how quickly you make your decision.

You should set a three-business-day goal for yourself to decide on your next steps (i.e., whether you will accept or reject the offer).

If you think it will take the full three business days or if a weekend/holiday is going to fall in between to extend the overall period of time you take to consider the offer, it is warranted to send the company a quick email thanking them for the offer and letting them know that you’ll be reviewing the details. Reassure them you’ll get back to them in a few days.

Now, there is an exception to the three-day rule. If you know sooner that you don’t want the job, try to send your rejection letter as soon as possible.

To be gracious, you may not want to send the rejection letter in a matter of minutes of receiving the offer, but sending it on that same day if you are absolutely certain about your decision would be considerate.

Four Examples of Job Offer Rejections

Now that you know how to approach the situation, it’s time to look over some examples of a job rejection letter.

These four job offer rejection letter emails can be sent as-is or they can be used for inspiration in crafting a rejection response for a job offer you have received.

In either case, sending a rejection letter after interview time spent with the company will help you build bridges, grow your network, and showcase your professionalism, even though you aren’t giving the company the response they wanted.

#1 If you accepted another offer…

Dear [name],

I would like to express my gratitude for the job offer I received to become the new [position] at [company].

While this was certainly a difficult decision to make, I must decline your offer as I recently accepted another opportunity that is better aligned with my career goals and skills.

I enjoyed meeting the team at [company], I enjoyed the conversations with you all and I appreciate your time throughout the interview process.

Thank you for your consideration.


[your name]

#2 If you want to stay in your current position…

Dear [name],

I would like to express my gratitude for the job offer I received to become the new [position] at [company].

While this was certainly a difficult decision to make, I must decline your offer as I would like to continue advancing in my current position.

I enjoyed meeting the team at [company] and I offer my best wishes for your continued success. Thank you for your time and consideration.


[your name]

#3 If you want to refer another person to the position…

Dear [name],

I would like to express my gratitude for the job offer I received to become the new [position] at [company].

While this was certainly a difficult decision to make, I must decline your offer based on my current circumstances.

However, I do have a few friends/colleagues I could faithfully recommend.

If you would like me to forward their details, who I think would be ideal for this position, please let me know and I will be happy to do so. Thank you for your time and consideration.


[your name]

#4 If you would reconsider with revised terms…

Dear [name],

I would like to express my gratitude for the job offer I received to become the new [position] at [company].

Unfortunately, I’m unable to accept the current offer as it would cause me to take a loss upon transitioning to the proposed benefits package.

I enjoyed meeting the team at [company] and, under different circumstances, I would have loved to accept this job offer.

Please let me know if you can reconsider the package offered.

Thank you for your consideration.


[your name]

Tips & Best Practices

With these examples and key pieces of advice, you’ll be able to gracefully reject any job offer while ultimately, if done correctly avoiding “burning any bridges” within your industry and professional network.  

Here are a few final tips:

While the templates above are based on some common scenarios, there’s no reason to be vague and there is especially no reason to be dishonest.

If you simply wish to reject a position because you aren’t satisfied with the company or what they had to offer you, be upfront about that, but be respectful.

Following your formal rejection, be sure to send a LinkedIn invite request to those at the company who wanted to hire you.  This is a standard practice, and it is an excellent way to build your professional relationships.

Don’t feel like you must recommend someone to go in your place simply because you feel guilty for not being able to accept a job offer that was extended to you. Remember that whoever you recommend will reflect upon you and your judgment.

If you do accept a new job offer and you are preparing for your first day at work, check out a recent blog on the 11 things you should on your first day at a new job.

Good luck!

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