How to Turn Down a Job Offer Gracefully
Usually when you’re looking for a new job like a mad man or woman, you apply for who-knows-how-many positions, and you interview at a few different places. And you find yourself in the enviable position of having more than one job offer on the table.
Whether you’re faced with an offer that you’d never accept in a million years or one that you’d consider (if not for the other, better offer you also received), here’s how to craft a gracious “thanks but no thanks.”
First, show your appreciation.
First and foremost, it’s important to thank the hiring manager for the offer and for their time. Yes, it is their job to interview you, but this person likely spent several hours reading your resume, checking your social media profiles, and sitting down with you for interviews. He or she also may have gone out on a limb to talk you up to other members of the team. So, a heartfelt—and specific—thank-you for that time and effort will go a long way. For example:
Thank you again for the interview last week—it was great to meet the team and see the offices. I enjoyed learning about the Operations Director position, and I appreciate this generous offer.
Next, give a good and brief reason.
The right and respectful thing to do is not to leave a hiring manager in the dark about why you’re declining the position. However, there is no need to go into detail about the red flags you saw in your would-be-boss or spill about the amazing perks at the job you did accept. The best approach is to be brief but honest about your specific reason for not accepting the position, saying something like:
While this position seems like a great opportunity, I have decided to pursue another role that will offer me more opportunities to pursue my interests in marketing and social media.
But if the position seems terrible and the only real reason you have is that you’d rather stand in an unemployment line than accept it, a simple, “It’s not quite the right fit for my career goals at this time” will suffice.
Lastly, stay in touch.
Offering some small pleasantries before you sign off is always a good idea because the job search world—especially in certain industries—is small. You can simply make a simple mention that you wish this person all the best in the future.
It’s been a pleasure getting to know you, and I hope that we cross paths in the future.
Again, thank you for your time and support, and I wish you all the best.
Turning down a job offer—no matter how sure you are that you don't want it—never feels great but it is an inevitable part of starting the job of your dreams.