How to Politely Decline a Job Offer Over Email (with Sample)

Aug 5, 2020 | Job Search Strategy

A title graphic featuring a stock photo of a person extending a job contract to another person with an alternate version of the article's title: "How to Politely Decline a Job Offer Over Email (with Sample Email)"

It’s awkward, but sometimes you’ll have to decline a job when you get a better offer. Here’s how to politely decline a job offer over email (featuring a sample email you can use as a template!)

By: Matt Dupee | Resume Writer for Let’s Eat, Grandma

We’ve all been there, and it’s uncomfortable.

Say you had a great interview with your backup company, but then your top choice finally got back to you, and a week later you have two competing offers. You have to turn your backup down — that’s a tricky situation!

This blog will explain how to politely decline a job offer that you don’t want.

It is important to understand that it’s totally okay to turn down a job, even right now. It may seem scary to say “thanks, but no thanks,” especially as the world experiences the fallout from COVID-19.

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However, as long as you remain positive, prompt, and professional, this won’t ruin your reputation with the company. Don’t overthink the message — just be clear and decisive. 

(But wait… are you turning down one offer over another only because of the salary? A salary negotiation might be your next step. We have tips on that, too.)

3 Tips to Politely Decline a Job Offer Over Email

Just like a resignation letter, think of this message kind of like a break-up. You want to be polite, but you also don’t want to beat around the bush. Plus, you can basically say “it’s not you, it’s me!”

#1) Keep it short.

Just rip the bandage off! Don’t take more of their time belaboring the point with more than a few sentences.

#2) Show that you were grateful for the opportunity, but clearly state that you’re not taking the job.

It’s important to express gratitude, but it’s also important to use language that doesn’t cause any confusion.

#3) Give a reason, but don’t explain too much.

They don’t necessarily need to know who the other company is or if they gave you a better offer. They also don’t need to know what you found wrong with their company. Something simple and vague like “I was offered another opportunity that matches my career path” or “I was impressed with the company but found a better fit for my current situation” will do fine.

A photo of two professionally dressed men shaking hands, illustrating that you can remain on good terms with an employer after politely declining a job offer over email.

It is possible to remain on good terms with a prospective employer if you manage to politely decline a job offer over email.

A Word of Caution

Never go negative and never ghost the company. Even if you feel you will never work for the organization, we live in a small and connected world. By ghosting the person offering you the job or expressing negativity about the role, you risk this coming back to haunt you.

In a former role, I once interviewed a candidate for a clinical provider role. She completed two follow-up interviews and seemed extremely interested in the job. So I made her an offer… and heard nothing but crickets.

A few months later, a colleague reached out and asked me about a candidate he was looking to hire. Sure enough, it was the same woman. Small. World.

Example Email to Politely Decline a Job Offer

Dear <Name of person who made the offer>, 

Thank you for offering me the opportunity to work as <Position> for <Company>. Unfortunately, I will have to decline the offer at this time, as I have accepted another position that aligns more with my career path and professional goals.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude for this offer and the chance to meet your team, as well as my regrets that, after careful consideration, this opportunity is not the right fit at this time. I wish you the best as your search to fill the role continues. 


<Your Name>

Staying Open for a Comeback

As you saw from the above example, keeping the email brief, positive, and decisive will not only prevent misunderstandings, it will maintain your credibility with the organization. 

Many times, you may find the company will come back with a better offer! At the very least, you have an opportunity to reconnect at a later date if new roles pop up at the company that may be a better fit. By not burning your bridges, you leave the door open to future opportunities. 

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