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Andrew Arkley|December 10, 2021

How To Decline A Job Offer – Our Three Top Tips To Do It Gracefully

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Wondering how to decline a job offer? First things first, congratulations!

Your stand-out CV got you a foot in the door – and then you made an impact at interview, so much so that you’ve received an offer of employment.

However, it’s not the role for you (more on why this might be shortly) and you’re left wondering how to decline a job offer.

While we’re experts in helping our customers get jobs, as experienced HR professionals we also know how to decline a job offer.

Read on for our top tips on how to gracefully say ‘no’ when it comes to a job offer.

Why might you decline a job offer?

You’ve done the hard bit and managed to get a job offer – but it’s just not right for you. 

This is totally fine, and not uncommon. It’s vital you are honest with yourself – and there’s plenty of advice out there to help you come to a final decision.

There are multiple reasons why you might decline a job offer.

Firstly, it may simply come down to salary – something we discuss later in this piece. You need to be paid what you deserve.

Potentially, the company ethos, location, or the role itself may not feel the best fit for you. All valid reasons for declining a job offer.

It is important to know why you don’t want the job; this is one of our first tips when declining a role gracefully.

Declining a job offer tip one: be clear about your reason(s)

Following on from the above, it’s important to have a reason for rejecting a job offer.

The potential employer won’t expect, and doesn’t need, lengthy explanations and details – aim to be concise and clear.

Note: prior to applying for a role, and certainly while at interview, you should endeavour to get as much info on the company and role as possible. 

This will allow you to be as informed as possible when it comes to your reasoning for declining a job offer.

In short, the potential employer has taken the time to assess your credentials and is offering you a job; they deserve a reason for the rejection. 

Building on this…

Declining a job offer tip two: be polite and personal

Good manners are free, they carry significant weight in the world of job applications – and in this case, rejections.

While some may discount the phrase “your network is your net worth” as a cliché, we believe it reflects an important part of this process. Do not burn your bridges.

Another role may arise at the company down the line, or your path may cross again with the business, or the individuals involved in hiring. Ensure that any reunion is positive, and not tainted by an impolite, impersonal rejection of their job offer.

Ideally, address your response to the hiring manager or whoever you have been dealing with throughout the hiring process. If there’s an option to speak on the phone, too, this is almost always well-received.

Declining a job offer tip three: be timely in your response

We wouldn’t suggest rushing your decision. An offer of employment is not something to be sniffed at, and this opportunity may not arise again.

That said, it’s considered both good manners and professional to respond in a timely fashion.

The potential employer may set a time limit for when they expect a response, to which you must adhere. 

You may be able to buy some time to consider your options by replying to the initial offer with a ‘thank you’ and a statement that you will be reviewing the offer, responding by a certain date.

How to decline a job offer due to salary

We’re often squeamish about money, but there’s no need to be so in the professional world. 

A salary offer that doesn’t meet your expectations is a perfectly acceptable reason to reject a role, and the above three reasons should all apply in how you decline the job offer.

However, do be prepared for a counteroffer. Rejection over salary may be seen as a negotiating step, so if salary isn’t the only reason for not wanting the job, be mentally prepared for how you might respond.

How to decline a job offer after accepting

This may be more complex than declining a job before accepting, but once again, the above principles still apply.

If you haven’t signed a contract, only making a verbal agreement, there shouldn’t be any issue. A little additional courtesy may be advised in order to maintain good relations with the potential employer.

Should a contract already have been signed, check whether there is a cooling off period allowing either party to walk away.

Remember, it’s much better for the potential employer for you to reject the role before beginning and leaving, unhappily, within weeks of starting.

How to decline a job offer: Conclusion

Declining a job offer may seem a daunting task, but it really doesn’t need to be.

We hope the above will have given you some tips as to how to do it gracefully. If you’re looking for your perfect role, PurpleCV can write you a bespoke CV that will gain you those all-important interviews.

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