How to Professionally Turn Down a Job Offer

Covid-19 has taken its toll on many job seekers. Whether you were looking for a new career or you’ve had to start searching for a job because you were laid off due to many businesses struggling at the moment, the job market has changed dramatically. People’s need for work has taken a turn in a different direction because their financial needs are out of alignment with their career goals. Regardless of the current times, one thing remains the same, declining a job offer can sometimes be difficult for both parties. Learning how to professionally turn down a job offer can help you strike a balance between maintaining a good impression and not burning bridges for potential future opportunities.

People have been pretty desperate for work so, what do you do when you get the good news that you’ve been offered a job, but are stuck between the pressure of feeling as though you can’t let an opportunity pass during the pandemic and whether or not the job is right for you? Here are some tips on how to professionally turn down a job offer.


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Turn down a job offer tips

It may be that the pay they are offering is not what you were hoping or aiming for.  Or maybe you decided the working environment or company ethics weren’t a good fit.  If relocation or transfer were on the table, maybe it’s not the right time for you.   Whatever your reasons to turn down a job offer, it’s best to make sure you get clear on your needs before you commit to a job.


Salary and Benefits

There is no problem turning down a job offer because you aren’t happy with the salary or benefits that they are offering. Probably, even more so during COVID-19, you can’t risk moving into a position that has a lower salary. You shouldn’t feel guilty about wanting more for yourself when it comes to salary and benefits, especially if you have been financially dependent on a specific wage or have been used to having the use of a company car or mobile phone etc.


Company Culture or Finances

A lot of people have had their finances completely destroyed during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Whether it’s through a COVID-caused drop in wages because you’re on a zero-hour contract, your business has had to cease trading, or because you are unable to receive help from the government, it is essential to make sure you are getting a job that meets your financial needs. Additionally, it’s important to make sure that the company culture is a good fit.  Your interview is the perfect time to ask a lot of questions about culture.  If there is anything you don’t like, then there is nothing wrong with deciding to professionally turn down a job offer.




Show Appreciation

If you do turn down a job offer, you should always make sure you show your appreciation, whether it’s thanking the recruiting company like HIRECLOUT or expressing your sincere thanks to the person/people who interviewed you directly.

When you decline an offer, make sure you let them know how much you appreciate the offer and the fact they chose you above other candidates. Whether you share your thoughts via telephone or send a follow-up email directly to your interviewer, it will go a long way to maintaining a good relationship with the company.  Maintaining a good relationship can open the door to future opportunities with the company.


Let the Company Know as Soon as Possible

A sure-fire way to ruin any relationship you have with a company is to make them wait too long for a response. Ok, you need to take the time to think about the opportunity presented to you, but if you wait too long, they might miss out on another ideal candidate who they were also considering.  Be thorough and timely when making your decision.

Think of it like this, if they decide to offer the position to someone else, wouldn’t you want to find out sooner rather than later so you can look for something else?


Tell Them Your Decision Over the Phone

With more people working remotely than ever before, we find ourselves using more and more digital modes of communication.  But, how you communicate with people speaks volumes about you and nothing can beat the impression of one-on-one connection.  Talking to them over the phone is going to leave them with a much better impression of you. Speaking with someone over the phone is more professional than emailing your decision as using email gives the impression that you’re taking the easy way out. Showing your willingness to speak to them directly after they took the time to interview you is far more beneficial in the long run and helps to preserve any connections you may have made.

Make that phone call first and then you can follow up with a letter or email after. You should not leave a voicemail with your response. If you need to leave a voicemail, try to let them know when you will be calling back.

Rejecting a job offer via call


Related: The 10 Best Employee Retention Strategies


When Can You Use Email?

Using email to correspond with the company is appropriate unless you are declining their offer.   The only time you should use email to respond to a job offer is when they have solely corresponded with you this way. Another way you can utilize email is to follow up after any phone call or to thank any other people within the company you have dealt with, such as members of HR, a secretary, or the company that helped put you in touch. Although they may be disappointed with your decision, it’s still polite.


Be Honest About Your Reason for Rejecting the Job Offer

‘Honesty is the best policy is the right approach to take when declining a job offer. If you liked the position but can’t accept it because you’ve been offered another position with better benefits or salary, then say just that. Providing additional detailed information allows them to revise their offer or become more competitive for other candidates. You might even find they try to fight for you because they feel that you are the right person for the position.


Compliment the Company

You should take the opportunity to compliment the company that you are turning down. Mention specific positive attributes that drew you to the company in the first place and about the experience you had during your interview. Let them know what it was that drew you to apply for their position in the first place.  This reassures them; they will then know that interviewing you wasn’t a waste of their time.


Leave the Door Open for Future Opportunity

Just because you are turning down a particular job role now doesn’t mean you wouldn’t like the opportunity to work for them in the future. Keeping the door open for future opportunities is good business. Indicate that you would like to stay in touch and would love to be thought about when a more suitable position becomes available.


Provide a Recommendation

If the position wasn’t right for you, but you know of an ideal candidate, provide a recommendation! Not only are you helping someone you know to gain an opportunity, but you are also making up for the fact you are turning it down yourself.  Companies don’t forget this.  In fact, people helping people during these challenging COVID-19 times have been incredibly important.

Providing job recommendation




Accepting Multiple Job Offers

Accepting more than one job offer is unprofessional.  You also run the risk of burning any chance of building bridges with one or more companies. In the long-run, this may damage your reputation. Competitors do talk, especially when it comes to headhunting and recruitment. Don’t damage your reputation and destroy your chance of a good career with or in your industry. Instead, you should take some time to consider the positions on offer and decline respectfully.


Being Brutally Honest

Although it’s essential for you to be as honest as possible, being too honest can be even more damaging. Instead of negative statements, try saying things like ‘ I didn’t think that management style was suited to me’ or ‘ I don’t think I fit into the existing team.’


Talking Negatively About the Company

No good will come from speaking badly about any company. It’s going to make you look unprofessional. Only when something serious has occurred should you speak badly about a company.


Ignoring the Offer

Ok, so it’s likely to be a difficult and awkward conversation when turning down a position. However, this isn’t an excuse to ignore them completely. Make sure you reach back out to a company that has spent time selecting you, interviewing, and then offering you a position. It’s polite and makes you look more professional.


Leading the Company On

It’s not beneficial to you or the company for you to lead them on. Make sure you give them an answer as soon as you make a decision.


Turning Down an Offer Too Soon

Make sure you take the right amount of time to consider any job offer that is given to you. This means you shouldn’t jump to a decision because you feel pressured during these challenging times. Striking the right balance is key to making the right decision.

HIRECLOUT can get you the right tech job



It’s important to remember that any job offer is an achievement!  But, if it’s not right for you, knowing how to professionally turn down a job offer can turn a sticky situation into a successful one. Yes, times are hard at the moment, and more and more people are feeling the desperation behind securing work and maintaining their financial circumstances, but this still shouldn’t be a reason to accept a job that isn’t a good fit for you.


Related:  How to Crush Your Second Interview (With Example Questions)