Template Toolbox | How to Decline a Job Offer via Email

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If, after getting a job offer, you decide to turn it down, it’s important that you do it in a way that comes across as professional and appreciative. If you’re considering declining an offer via email, first consider these questions:

  • Are you hoping for a new offer based on your feedback?
  • Were you offered the job over the phone?

If you answered yes to either of the above, it may be worth either picking up the phone rather than drafting an email, or, if you feel like an email will give you an opportunity to more clearly outline your concerns or reasons for declining the offer, sending an email and suggesting a phone call for further discussion.

Before we dive into some email templates, remember two components that should be included in your email no matter what the reason for declining the offer may be:

  • Gratitude. Share your thanks for the interviewer’s time, consideration, and interest in your candidacy.
  • Specific rejection. Clarity is key and the employer should not be uncertain as to whether or not you’re accepting the offer.

Now, consider the specific situations in which you might decline a job offer, and use these templates and suggestions to format your perfect email.

You’re declining the offer because of salary or other benefits

In this particular situation, you want to leave the door open for an adjusted offer, so be sure to be specific about why you’re declining their initial offer and what you’d like to renegotiate. In this situation, be clear about the fact that you aren’t declining outright.

Dear [NAME],

Thank you again for taking the time to meet with me, and of course, thank you so much for offering me an opportunity to join the team at [ORGANIZATION NAME].

While the organization as well as the [TITLE] role both feel like a great fit, I do have some concerns about your initial offer and would like to discuss an alternative. I’m pleased with the starting salary and thrilled to hear about the [ORGANIZATION NAME]’s generous health-care plan, however, I’d love to hear whether you’re amenable to adjusting the amount of PTO days that I can earn during my first year of employment.

Thank you again, and I hope that we can reach an agreement that works for all parties, as I’d certainly love to be the newest member of [ORGANIZATION NAME]’s [TEAM/DEPARTMENT NAME] team.

I look forward to connecting soon!

[YOUR NAME]

 

You’re declining the offer because you love the organization but not the role

While you want to be clear in this situation that you will not be taking the job, you should also be sure to make it completely clear that you would love to stay top-of-mind for future opportunities that may be a better fit. It’ll also be important for you to take it upon yourself to stay connected with your interviewer in order to stay abreast of any openings that may arise.

Dear [NAME],

Thank you again for taking the time to meet with me, and of course, thank you so much for offering me an opportunity to join the team at [ORGANIZATION NAME].

While [ORGANIZATION NAME] felt like a perfect fit, after quite a bit of reflection, I’m not confident that this is really the role for me. Although I’m eager to join the [ORGANIZATION NAME] team, of course, I want to be sure that I join in a capacity that will allow me to contribute my very best work to [ORGANIZATION NAME]’s already impressive portfolio.

I look forward to staying in touch, and I’d love to be considered for any future openings that are a better fit for my skills and interests.

Thank you again, and warmest regards,

[YOUR NAME]

 

You’re declining the offer for pretty much any other reason

In this situation, you can outright decline the offer and sever ties—in a respectful and professional way—with the organization. But remember: You never know who may be able to connect you with your next, great opportunity, so keep your email professional and full of gratitude!

Dear [NAME],

Thank you again for taking the time to meet with me, and of course, thank you so much for offering me an opportunity to join the team at [ORGANIZATION NAME].

While I enjoyed learning about the [TITLE] role and [ORGANIZATION NAME], after a lot of reflection, I’m not confident that this is a fit for me and so unfortunately, I will have to decline your offer.

I look forward to staying connected with you and [ORGANIZATION NAME], and I’m eager to continue to read about all of your good work in [ISSUE AREA].

Thank you again, and I wish you the best of luck in your search for the perfect [TITLE].

Warmest regards,

[YOUR NAME]

 

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Are there other situations for which you’d need a rejection letter that aren’t included in the templates above? Would a script for a rejection phone call be helpful? Tell us in the comments or tweet us at @idealistcareers.

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As a seasoned communications professional with 13+ years of nonprofit experience and 5+ years of experience creating engaging content and copy, I love the idea that a thoughtfully crafted piece of content can spark social change. Here at Idealist Careers, I'm eager to offer job seekers, game changers, and do-gooders actionable tips, career resources, and "social-impact lifestyle" advice.


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