How to Turn Down a Job Offer - Sample Emails

how to turn down a job offer

Turning down a job offer can be a strenuous and difficult thing to execute, especially for recent graduates or those who have only had a few jobs.

You can be stressed about what to do, often seeking the advice from others. But if you are contemplating turning down a job offer, this guide has everything you need to know in order to make the best decision for yourself and do so in a professional manner.

Let’s get started.

When Do I Personally Know I Should Decline A Job Offer

Knowing when to decline a job offer is a tricky task. It will require you spending some time to contemplate what feels right and what feels not-so-right with the job opportunity. For example, if you are hesitating in jumping right in with the company, that’s an indicator.

There’s a variety of indicators that should tell you that you’re not willing to commit to the company. And when those indicators start to stack up, that’s when you know it’s time to decline the job offer that you received and move on.

For example, some of those indicators are:

Any of those above are common and also key indicators that should let you know to decline the job offer for now and potentially revisit it later. Declining a job offer professionally will always leave the door open for future opportunities at the same company.

When Should I Decline A Job Offer

Knowing when to decline a job offer is really important. After you’ve decided that you’re going to decline it, you need to know when the right time is. For the most part, the sooner that you can let the employer know, the better. It is a professional courtesy. The longer you wait, the more the HR team is going to find you unprofessional and potentially abusing any extension they might have given you on the job offer.

If you received a job offer and haven’t responded yes or no within the next 3-5 business days, it is too long. You can absolutely ask for an extension on the job offer if you need more time. But that might not mean that your employer is willing to do so. Or that the ask for the extension won’t make you look uncommitted to the job opportunity. These are the risks that you have to take when asking for an extension.

Remember, declining the job opportunity as soon as you know it’s not a right fit is the best route. Never keep the employer waiting for longer than 3-5 business days.

Related: How To Ask For An Extension On A Job Offer: Full Guide

Steps To Decline A Job Offer

The steps to decline a job offer are somewhat simple. Here’s what they are:

These things should be communicated by an email, a letter or sometimes by a phone call. Though, most of us won’t be willing to make the phone call. Instead, a nicely written email should be able to do the trick.

How Do You Politely Decline A Job Offer?

The best way to be polite about declining a job offer is to simply be sincere. The more that you can express your gratitude or express the fact that you hold the company in a very high regard, the better off it will be.

It’s important to remember that even though you’d like to be polite in your job decline, employers can sometimes be turned off by the fact that you declined their offer. This is natural, it happens. But it is a short-lived moment.

An example email body of being extremely polite looks like this:

I want you to know it was a very difficult decision for me. I truly hold [Company] in the highest regard. I have the highest of respect for the talent your team has. I spent hours speaking with family helping guide me in making my decision.

Can I Turn Down A Job Offer While On Unemployment?

This can be a tricky thing to manager. The short and skinny of this is that if you are offered a job and you decline it, it must be because the job was not considered “suitable employment.” This means, if you are currently on unemployment and applied for a job that you’ve had prior experience in, most likely the position will be for something that you DO have suitable employment for. You should consult an attorney if you feel as though you are concerned about how this might affect any unemployment benefits that you are currently collecting.

Can I Turn Down A Job Offer After Accepting It?

Turning down a job offer after accepting it is definitely possible. Though it isn’t advised. In most instances, those who are turning down a job offer after they accepted it should probably have turned down the job offer to begin with. That’s because they maybe felt as though the salary wasn’t high enough or that the job wasn’t the right fit.

If you refer to our notes on when you know you should decline a job offer, you’ll be more aware of the indicators that you should decline the job sooner.

If you are currently in this position, there are ways to get out of it. But for the most part, the employer that hired you isn’t going to hold you in the highest regard. If you’d like to learn how to decline a job offer after you’ve accepted it, read our full guide here.

Related: How To Decline A Job Offer After Accepting (With Sample Email)

4 Best Sample Email Subject Lines To Decline A Job Offer

Below are some of the best email subject lines that you can use when you are sending your job offer decline letter. When you do this, be sure that you are sending it only to the person that you have been interviewing with or speaking with most frequently.

3 Best Sample Emails To Use To Decline A Job Offer

Below are sample emails that you copy and paste directly into your email client in order to help you alleviate some of the stress that piles up when you are feeling like you need to decline a job offer.

Example one

Dear [Name] —

I want to thank you for all the time that you’ve spent with me. Meeting you and your team to speak about [Company] was an absolute pleasure. I really hold all of you in high regard.

At this time, I’ve decided that another opportunity is a better fit for me and my career path. I want you to know this was a very difficult decision.

I hope we can stay in touch and speak about future job opportunities.

Thank you so much,
[Your name]

Example two

Dear [Name] —

This is regarding the wonderful job offer that I received from [Company]. It was a very difficult decision for me to make but I have decided that another opportunity is a better fit.

I hold [Company] in a very high regard and the have a dear amount of respect for the whole team.

Thank you so much,
[Your name]

Example three

Hi [Name] —

This was such a difficult decision for me to make. I spent a long time meditating on the opportunity that you put in front of me. It is such a great one. But after a lot of consideration on my career path, I’ve chosen another route. I want to thank you for all the time you and the team put forth. And I hope we can stay connected and speak about future job opportunities that may come up later down the road.

Thank so much for everything,
[Your name]

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur,, SparkHire, and many more.


Help us by spreading the word