Congratulations! You got the job! Something you’ve been looking for and looking forward to has finally come your way and you couldn’t be happier.
It’s good practice to apply to as many jobs as you can within a field. You never know who will say yes, or how many times you will have to read “no.” If you are fortunate enough to get the letter for the job you wanted most, or if you’ve simply received the go-ahead from one of your best-case scenarios, you will want to jump straight into preparing for the interview and orientation. But first, you must deal with the other places that expect you to be as excited for them.
Right now, we’re in an employee’s market. There are still over 10 million jobs unfilled and nearly 6 and a half unemployed people. Leaving those ranks means one less job will be open, and you won’t likely be looking to fill in a second. Employers know this and will want to retain you however they can. Unfortunately, if you’ve found something better - or if you found out the dream job, they offered isn’t so dreamy after all through your own research - you’ll need to let them know.
It’s a simple courtesy to let an employer know that you are no longer interested in their posting, that way they can move down the list of applicants to the next eligible candidate, and you can move on to preparing for your own new career. It’s not like an auction; your inaction doesn’t give them a signal to hire someone else. They are holding that position for you - that’s what the letter is sent to confirm. If you’re set on moving forward you should let them move forward too, for a few reasons.
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The best way to turn down a job offer is by phone. Speaking directly to a representative of the company who extended their position to you is more personal than a response letter, and more immediate, so they can get on with their business without you. It also shows a degree of initiative and decision-making that they will do well to remember.
If you can’t get through to someone by phone, if their schedules don’t line up with yours or there’s just no way to contact them live, you can send an email instead. If they’re really off the grid you may have to send a letter, but that’s the last case resort. Don’t expect to print your sorries onto paper and wait a week for them to read it. The sooner, the better.
A letter of acceptance may have a name on it, a “Sincerely,” line, or something similar. From there and a phone number you can get in touch with the person handling the hirings and let them know directly why you won’t be accepting. This leads to what you should say.Sample email to decline a job offer:
I really appreciate your offer to join [Company] as [Title]. Unfortunately, I am declining due to [reason from the list above or another].
Again, thank you for your offer.
First, you should show your appreciation for their offer. You did apply to them for a reason, and you can let them know what the reason is. What you were excited to work on, what field they were advancing, that sort of thing. And make it clear you’re talking about the same position.
- Thank you so much for considering me for the role of Marketing Manager. I appreciate you taking the time to think about me and for addressing so many of my questions regarding the organization and the position.
- Thank you for the interview last week; it was wonderful to meet the team and tour the headquarters. I appreciated the opportunity to learn more about the Operations Director role, and I am grateful for the generous offer.
Second, after that compliment, you drop the truth and tell them that you are accepting a different position. But don’t rush through this part. Let them know that it took some consideration, some thought, and concern, about taking their job or another, and unfortunately your other option seems to be better for you at this time. Don’t degenerate the position they offered, or it might sound insulting to their company. Make it about you: this other position is best for You, it offers You more opportunities, it’s in Your best interest. That way it’s not about them and their position, which is still worth seeking.
- I've chosen to accept a position with another company after much thought
- After much thought, I’ve decided that now is not the best time to leave my current position.
- While this position appears to be a fantastic opportunity, I have opted to explore another career that would allow me to further my marketing and social media interests.
Third, bear in mind your better option might just not work out. Offer to stay in touch or to somehow stay connected to their company in the future. This isn’t something you have to follow up on in any tangible way, necessarily. But businesses talk to one another. Depending on the industry, they may have to sustain themselves in a competitive market. Maintaining good relationships with other businesses makes you a professional. Cutting them loose and forgetting about them as soon as they can’t help you is not an attractive quality.
- It's been a pleasure getting to know you, and I hope we'll run into each other again soon.
- Again, thank you for your time and support, and I wish you all the best.
- Wishing you and your team the very best on your upcoming projects, and I hope to stay in touch.
You can write down some lines to say just to make sure you say the right things, but a phone conversation should be something organic. You may even get some insight from the recruiter on the other end about the job you are going for and what the differences would be between the two positions. Keep the bridge between you and them active just in case future relations connect you together.
If the conversation persists and they start asking, you can stay non-specific. Don’t mention things like benefits or salary - things the recruiter likely can’t control at all. And if you ended up finding out something bad about their company that steered you away, keep it out of the dialogue. They are probably aware and won’t appreciate the reminder, or that it lost them a potential hire. It happens, but that’s no reason to gossip. Ultimately, you’re moving forward with a different path than the one they offer, so you can part amicably.
Take some time to do this for each of every application you have to turn down. The more who accept you, the better. That leads to more contacts and potential future safety nets should your upcoming job not pan out. Always keep your options open, nobody knows what’s in store for the future but if you never burn a bridge, you can cross whatever stream may rise.
- The candidate has an advantage in today's labor market. With so many options, job searchers are becoming more selective. According to Glassdoor data, 17.3 percent of job offers—more than one in every six—are rejected in the United States, suggesting a consistent rise in offer rejection rates over the last few years.
- If a candidate's interview includes a skills test where they can demonstrate their knowledge, they are 1.4 to 2.5 percentage points more likely to accept an offer. If their interview involves an IQ test or a personality assessment, they are 1.0 to 2.3 percentage points less likely to accept.
- Candidates in professional and technical areas, such as business services and information technology, reject 19.4% of job offers vs 14.8 percent in other industries. These workers are frequently in high demand and can weigh multiple offers.
- A hard interview can be motivating for people looking to advance their careers. For example, younger Gen Z and millennial workers (ages 16 to 34), who prioritize career advancement, had the largest positive relationship between interview difficulty and the chance of accepting job offers.