No Bridges Burnt: 4 Easy Ways To Politely Decline A Job Offer

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decline job offer politely
6 min read

A couple of months ago, I was running behind jobs like a bull. I had taken a long break after quitting a toxic company and felt the need to get back to the grind once more. Now what I didn’t realise was that when one mass-applies, they get mass job offers too. So naturally, choosing one and turning down other job offers me feel (and look) like a bad cop. But thankfully, there are ways of turning down a job offer without burning bridges. 

Jobs are declined if the pay is below market rate, or if the job role doesn’t match the job description. People also tend to say no if the benefits or perks are not aligned with their expectations, or even if the commute to the workplace sucks the life out of their schedule. But the most common reason to decline a job offer is choosing to go ahead with a better one.  

However, saying  ‘no’ without burning bridges between you and the employer is where the real skill lies.

Read on to know how you can craft a graceful ‘thanks-but-no-thanks’ message after declining that job offer! 

How To Decline A Job Offer

Before we get to the hacks and ways, it will do you good to know that simply saying ‘no’ doesn’t leave a good impression, especially if you’re trying not to burn bridges or maintain a smooth relationship with the recruiter for future associations. When contemplating how to decline a job offer politely, structure your reasons mentally. 

In situations where you cannot control the matter – such as low pay after negotiations or a job role that doesn’t interest you, be honest. However, in situations where your potential employer can offer solutions, you can always ask if they are willing to make an exception.

For example, if you are declining the offer due to a commuting issue or relocation, you can mention the reason and ask if they are willing to allow you to work from home. It’s always better to ask!

Maintain a healthy balance between showing gratitude, stating your reason, thanking the recruiter for the opportunity, and assuring them about keeping in touch. It is important to be crisp and clear and yet say no tactfully and politely. 

Now, bookmark these tips for the next time you have to decline a job offer

1. Express Your Appreciation 

You needed a job, and the company took the effort to go through your resume, shortlist you, interview you, and select you. This is a pretty cumbersome process and deserves appreciation. So even though you were unable to take that job up, expressing gratitude for getting selected is a good practice. 

A simple and heartfelt ‘thank you’ note like the one below will go a long way: 

A sample email on how to reject a job offer politely

decline job offer

2. Dial-Up Instead Of Emailing 

More often than not, people tend to misconstrue text messages and emails. To sound more personable and warm, it is better to decline a job offer over the phone rather than by email, especially if you have been conversing over calls regularly. This gives you the opportunity to discuss your reasoning in more detail. 

A polite phone call also shows the hiring manager you appreciate their offer and want to maintain a positive relationship with them.

Your talking points can include details like these: 

“It was great to learn about the job role and your company. Unfortunately, I cannot accept your job offer at the moment, because I have taken up another writing role that aligns better with my interests and career goals. However, I wish you the best of luck in finding the right candidate for this position. Let me know if I can recommend someone. Thank you so much for your time.”

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3. Be Honest But Brief 

Try not to ghost your hiring manager. It is important for them to know why you cannot join them, so that they can approach other candidates. At the same time, keep it brief. They would rather have you get to the point than be elaborate. 

Leave the details and frame the following: 

  • After careful consideration, I have decided to accept a position at another company as it better aligns with my goals.  
  • After much thought, I have decided that now is not the best time to leave my current position. I would like to work in my present company for a few more years.
decline job offer politely

4. Stay In Touch 

You may not need the job offer today, but it might be beneficial to you in the future. The world is round, and it is good to build your network by keeping in touch with recruiters. While declining the job offer, tell the hiring manager that you will get back to them if you need a job in their company later. 

The following lines may help you build a connection: 

  • It has been a pleasure getting to know you, and I hope that we cross paths in the future
decline job offer

Turning down a job offer, no matter how politely it is done, never feels great. But one has to close one book to open another. And saying no to a job will eventually lead you to the right one. Hence it’s important to actually know how to politely reject a job offer. 

Keep these tips and hacks handy for the next time you’re hesitating to decline a job offer. Meanwhile, if you know of more graceful ways to say no to your recruiter and how to decline a job offer, tell us in the comments below! 

Updated 4 October 2021

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A writer, a solo traveller, and a moody chef- that pretty much sums up Oindrilla's life. When not doing any of these things, she is found mothering her five pets, binge-watching Bollywood classics, and living the characters in her head. She believes that storytelling is the greatest catalyst of human bonds, and travels to explore and pen her thoughts down. Her life runs on daal-chaawal and chai, and mentally she is always in Himachal.

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