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How to Decline a Job Offer

Whether you decided to take a different position or the job you interviewed for just wasn’t the right fit, you’re at a point where you need to turn down a job. It’s not always easy to decline a job offer, but it’s a courteous and professional step in the job search process that will help you maintain a positive reputation even though you’re saying ‘no.’

Write your job offer rejection letter with these helpful tips and the sample letters below.

What is a job offer rejection letter?

A rejection letter for a job offer is a formal statement that you do not intend to accept a position. 

Even if you expressed your rejection in person or on the phone, it’s a good idea to send a follow-up letter or email stating the same. This formalizes the end of your candidacy. The employer can move on to other applicants, and you can move on to whatever’s next for you. 

Why it’s important to decline in writing

Sending a polite and professional letter to decline a job offer is a good way to maintain a positive relationship with the company. Even if this position wasn’t the right fit, you never know if there may be a more suitable one you want to apply for in the future. 

The relationship isn’t just limited to the company, either; you don’t want to burn bridges with the hiring manager, who you might run into at another company or at another point in your career.

When you should send a rejection letter

When you’re certain you won’t accept

Only send an offer rejection letter when you’re 100% sure you’re not taking the position. If there’s something that might make you consider, like a higher starting salary, you should instead respond by negotiating with a counter-offer. Once you send a rejection letter, there’s almost zero chance of going back and changing your mind.

As soon as you’ve made your decision

Don’t drag it out. Once you know you plan to reject an employer’s offer, it’s the professional move to let them know as soon as possible, especially before discussing it with anyone else.

What to include:

Your thanks

Begin by expressing your gratitude for the opportunity. 

A statement of your rejection

Be tactful, but state clearly that you’re declining.

A broad explanation

It’s appropriate to mention a general reason you’re turning down the job, without giving too many specifics.

What to omit when declining an offer

  • Too much information. Don’t go into intricate detail about your reason for not accepting or all the factors that played into your position. 
  • Complaints about the company/hiring process. It’s best to keep your letter straightforward and brief. 

Sample letter – general

Mr. Kolman, 

I appreciate you offering me the position with Highland Park School District. It was a challenging decision, but I have decided to accept a job at a private company that’s more closely aligned with my career goals.  

Many thanks for your consideration and best wishes for a successful school year.


Theodore Franken

Sample letter – salary based

Ms. Graham,

Thank you for offering me the event planning job at Princeton Productions. I’m very impressed with the company and the memorable events it organizes. 

I appreciate your willingness to negotiate with me on salary, but I’m unable to accept the job at the compensation level you’ve offered. I wish you the best in your search for the right candidate.


Tanya Hawkins

By keeping your rejection letter simple, direct and polite, you’ll protect your reputation while keeping the professional relationships you’ve built during the interview process intact.