Best Practices: Writing a Job Offer Rejection Letter

Best Practices: Writing a Job Offer Rejection Letter

by Ronna L. DeLoe, Esq., March 2019

You've just received an offer for a job you interviewed for, but, upon reflection, you realize it's not the right fit for you. Ignoring the offer is not the answer, as you may run into the person who interviewed you later on in your career, which people in the same field tend to do. The most professional way to handle the situation is to write a letter declining the offer.

Woman in office sitting at desk resting chin on folded hands looking at laptop

Negotiating the Offer

If your primary reason for rejecting the job is a term such as salary, you can advise the hiring manager of the issue. You also can ask if the company will negotiate, such as by offering a more competitive salary or one in line with your experience.

Although the hiring manager may withdraw the offer if you try to negotiate, there's always the possibility she may consider your request. If a new offer still doesn't meet your needs, you can write a rejection letter.

Communicating Your Rejection

How you send a job offer rejection letter depends on whether the hiring manager or employer gave you her email address or whether she specifically asked you to call her. Because a phone call is a faster form of communication, calling the hiring manager or employer before sending the letter is generally a good practice unless she specifically told you not to call.

If you need longer to contemplate your decision, send an email or make a phone call to the hiring manager asking for extra time to think about the company's offer. Be sure to state when you will communicate your final decision so your request for extra time isn't open-ended.

Writing a Job Offer Rejection Letter

A professional job offer rejection letter is concise and contains only what's needed to let the company know you're not taking the job. Write the letter in a straightforward style, avoiding negative statements about the job, the company, or any of the people you met. You don't want to burn bridges, and there's always the possibility that the company might be a better fit for you down the road.

In the letter, thank the interviewer for taking the time to meet with you and for offering you the position. If you have positive things to say about the company, make sure to do so. You want to make a good impression on the interviewer or hiring manager because they could end up making you a counteroffer.

Although you should provide a reason why you're not taking the job, you shouldn't include too much detail, especially if it's personal. Some common reasons include:

  • Insufficient salary or benefits
  • Inconvenient job location, especially if you thought it would be at a different office
  • That you received a better offer from another company
  • That you've decided to stay at your present job for now, or your present job offered you more money to stay
  • Family issues that interfere with taking the job at this time
  • That the job isn't a good fit for your skills
  • That the job offer is not for the position you expected
  • That the work hours aren't convenient, such as in the case of working parents or those attending school

Although the following reasons may reflect how you feel, you should not include them in your letter:

  • You don't like the company, its policies, or the employees.
  • The job seems tedious or boring.
  • The location is too far or not in a neighborhood where you want to work.

Instead of mentioning the above three examples, which could come off as insulting, simply state that the position isn't a good fit for you.

Sending a Rejection Letter After Accepting the Job

Writing a rejection letter after you've accepted a job but before you've begun working is no picnic. Doing so puts all involved parties—you, the hiring manager, and your future co-workers—in difficult positions.

Sometimes you don't have a choice. Maybe you've received a better offer from another company or you realize you've made a mistake in accepting the job. While turning down a job offer after accepting it is unprofessional, it's better that the hiring manager knows about your decision as soon as possible. Keep in mind though that you may never be able to work for this company again.

Not replying to a job offer isn't an option. No matter why you're turning down a job you haven't yet accepted, sending a well-written rejection letter indicates that you're a professional who might be worthy of consideration for other positions in the future.