Below are some guidelines and examples on how to appropriately and politely decline a job offer. We advise that you decline an offer through the most relevant and appropriate means of communication based on your experience with the employers throughout the interview process. This may be by phone, email, or formal letter.
Plan Your Message
Take the time to think about and perhaps write several drafts of what you will say to the employer before sending the message or calling the employer. A well-thought out message will leave a more positive impact on the employer and it will also give you one final chance to sort through why you are declining the offer.
Once you have decided what you are going to say when you contact the employer, tell him/her right away that you are declining the offer. The organization will need to offer the position to someone else, and you don't want to hold up the process. If you call the employer, we recommend that you follow up with an email or formal letter to document your decision.
No matter how you communicate your decision, you must be professional and courteous. You may be turning down this position, but you might want to be considered for future opportunities. Savvy job seekers use every possible chance to network, so thank each person with whom you interviewed and wish them and their company continued success.
If you've received another, more generous offer, avoid mentioning the details of the position you're accepting. Let the employer know that you were impressed by the organization and carefully considered the offer, but you are accepting a position that better suits your career objectives. In many cases, you do not need to mention whether or not you took another position. You could just cite that this opportunity was not the best fit for you at this time.
This is not the place to tout your credentials and career accomplishments. The company already realizes your value, so keep your message short and sweet. When you are declining an offer via telephone, it is always more difficult to be concise but doing so will show your conviction. The same messages detailed in the letters below carry that same message you will portray when declining over the phone.
Example 1: Formal Letter
August 21, 2013
Founder and Director
50 Wooley Lane
Boston, MA 01234
Dear Ms. Lyon:
Thank you very much for offering me the assistant manager position. After careful consideration, I regret that I must decline your offer. Although you were most encouraging in outlining future advancement possibilities within A Company, I have accepted another opportunity that is more in line with my skills and career goals.
I enjoyed meeting you and the rest of your team. You have been most kind and gracious throughout the interview process, and I only wish that circumstances allowed me to accept your offer. Best wishes for your continued success!
Example 2: Email
Dear Mr. Schulman:
Thank you for offering me the assistant buyer position. Regretfully, I must decline your offer. While I was very interested in the opportunity and working with your team, I do not feel it is the best fit for me at this time.
Thanks again for taking the time to meet with me and for the generous employment offer. I am impressed by your company's goals, mission and commitment to quality and service, and wish you and your colleagues much continued success. I hope that we meet again in the future.