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How to Decline a Job Offer Politely

By Elizabeth Jean ; Updated June 13, 2017
A woman is in a job interview.

Whether the commute is too long, the compensation is too low or a better offer has come along, there comes a time when a candidate must decline a job offer. Doing so professionally and politely will keep the door open for future work opportunities with the employer.

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Be prompt. Immediately upon making your decision to decline an offer, phone your human resource contact, recruiter or hiring manager to let him know your intentions. Let the contact know that you are grateful for the offer, you carefully considered the offer and you appreciate the time he took with you. Tell him you will follow up with a written letter. By providing a timely response to the company, the employer will be able to contact their next candidate of choice.

Send a formal written letter. Open the letter with a "thank you for the offer" statement, according to Syracuse University Center for Career Services. Refer explicitly to the specific offer you are declining in the opening sentence. Send the letter as soon as possible after you have verbally notified the company that you are declining the job offer.

Be tactful. Do not go into detail about another job offer or other specific reasons why you decided to decline the offer. Providing a general reason, such as you are accepting another position that is a better career fit, for declining is perfectly acceptable.

Communicate positively both verbally and in writing. Do not say anything negative about the firm, especially in writing, reports Virginia Tech Career Services. Your formal letter declining the job offer remains part of the company's records and possibly yours.

End with goodwill. In order to not burn bridges, end your letter on an "up" note. State that you were impressed with the company's mission and goals. Tell your contact that you enjoyed meeting her and thank her for her time.

Tip

An employer may contact you in the future for other employment opportunities, so maintain professional and courteous communications at all times.

Warning

Do not send an email message for communicating your offer decline. Although email is more convenient, it is not appropriate for declining a job offer. If the recruiter or human resource contact asks you with which company you have accepted another offer, deflect this question by stating that personal reasons came into play.

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About the Author

Elizabeth Jean began writing professionally in 2000. She focuses her writing on tutorials and topics about health, nutrition, computers and Internet, personal finance and business. She writes healthy living, lifestyle and nutrition articles for various websites. Jean holds a Master of Business Administration and a cum laude Bachelor of Science in business administration, both from Duquesne University.

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