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Declining a Job Offer by Email

written by: Winston Smith•edited by: Ginny Edwards•updated: 4/8/2011

Learn how to decline a job offer by email in a professional and polite manner. Also learn when it makes sense to communicate this decision by telephone, email or an in person meeting.

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    You have just received a job offer following a job interview and, after carefully thinking about it, you have decided to decline the offer. If you decline the offer politely and professionally, you will be able to maintain your connection to the individual and organization that extended an offer of employment to you. In some situations, declining a job offer by email is a good option. In other cases, you may need to call or write a letter. Find out when it makes sense to decline an offer by email in this article and how to compose the email.

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    Should You Use Email?

    Ball point pen writing (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons) Even if you are excited about a job offer, always ask for at least a day to think over the offer. Ideally, the offer of employment should cover salary, benefits (including vacation time), work location and some information on your job responsibilities. You may also wish to discuss the offer with a trusted friend or family member to get some perspective. If you decide that the job offer is not suited to you, you then need to decide how to decline the job offer

    Using the Telephone

    Some interviewers and hiring managers prefer to speak to candidates by phone. This preference may be stated directly or indirectly during the job interview process. For example, if all of your pre-interview communication was by phone, then it is fair to assume that declining by phone is acceptable. Since declining a job offer can be emotional, you may want to write yourself some notes or a short script to help you stay focused before you call.

    Using Email

    If you get easily nervous on the phone or simply prefer to communicate in writing, then it makes sense to decline a job offer by email. Make sure you address the interviewer from a reputable email address, preferably one that uses your first and last name (e.g.

    Declining in Person

    Declining a job offer in person is a good option if you happen to know your interviewer (or the hiring manager) socially or from a different context. This option also makes sense if you are applying for an internal position at your current employer. Make sure to book a meeting room or otherwise meet in a discreet fashion.

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    How to Decline a Job Offer

    Once you have decided to communicate your decision by email, follow these guidelines and suggestions to stay polite and professional. Being polite is important for several reasons; it shows respect for your interviewer and their time and you never know whom your interviewer knows.

    • Write your email from your computer or laptop; resist the urge to write a quick message on a BlackBerry, iPhone or other mobile device. Typing errors are more common on these devices.
    • Begin and end your email properly: Your email should begin with a greeting and end with a professional sign off such as, "Sincerely, Mary Jenkins, CPA." As a courtesy, wish the interviewer well in finding another suitable candidate for the position.
    • Thank the interviewer for taking the time to interview you and for extending an offer of employment to you. If possible, mention one or two specific reasons you decided not to accept the offer.
    • Explain why you are declining the offer: For example, you may have received a better offer or an offer more suited to your needs. If you are interviewing for a job from another country, you may have the unfortunate situation of having to decline the offer due to immigration difficulties. In addition, you may not be able to accept the offer due to family responsibilities (e.g. "While the offer was appealing, I have to decline as I have elderly parents in Seattle to care for.")
    • Be positive about the company and the opportunity: "It was very interesting to learn about the financial analyst role at ABC Bank and understand how that role contributes to the company's success."
    • Be brief: your email should only be a paragraph or two in length.

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    Learning how to decline a job offer by email involves business writing skills; learn more about business writing in the resources below.

    Email Etiquette,

    Writing Guide: Business Email,

    Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Specious