After searching for weeks (or months), you finally have job offer in your inbox.
The problem is, you decided that you will decline it. But how do you gracefully decline a job offer?
By following these steps of course...
Step 1: Get clear on why you are declining the job offer
When you evaluated the job offer, there was a reason why you decided that the job wasn't the next step for you. There are so many reasons why you might choose to decline a job offer.
You received and accepted a better offer (more pay, more growth, more mentorship).
After job offer negotiations, you couldn't get the offer to your minimum acceptable compensation.
The culture fit seemed off.
You are following your gut.
Be very clear in the reason why you are declining the job offer, both to support you and to help you communicate with them effectively.
Step 2: Send a message to decline the offer
Typically I'm the biggest advocate for live communications at critical junctures in your career - so why am I telling you to send this via a message?
When your decision is final (which is generally will be when you're declining the job offer, obvs), setting up a call to decline infers that the decision is not final.
That's why in this case, I think sending an email that is respectful and full of gratitude will do the trick - and save you both time and unnecessary effort.
When it comes to a providing a reason, I suggest following the Bambi rule: if you can't say anything nice, do not say anything at all.
I've included a few templates to help you craft the perfect message at the bottom of this post.
Step 3: Send thank you notes
You will likely be communicating with either the recruiter or the hiring manager in regards to your offer. After you decline, send a thank you note to the person you were not negotiating with, either the recruiter you were working with and the hiring manager.
This is still a relationship-building opportunity - and you never know when circumstances will change and all of a sudden they are hiring for your dream job.
Of course, if both were on the decline email you can skip this step.
Job Offer Decline Templates
Here's a few templates to get you started crafting your message to decline the job offer.
Accepted another offer
Thank you for this opportunity, however, I regret to inform you that I am declining the offer.
While Acme's values and mission really resonated, I did receive another offer that I accepted because it better aligned with my long term career goals.
I am enormously grateful not just for your time throughout the hiring process, but also for your invitation to join your team. Please also extend my gratitude to Jane, Chad, and Margo for the time they took time meeting me.
Declining due to compensation
As we discussed, my range exceeded your budget for the role, and after considering the offer you extended, I regret to inform you I have decided to decline the job offer.
Thank you for the time you spent getting to know me and helping me get to know Acme Corp. I look forward to following Acme's success and send my best wishes to you and the team.
Declining - no reason cited (i.e. you can't say anything nice)
Thank you for this opportunity, however, after considering the offer I am writing to inform you I have decided to decline the offer.
Best of luck hiring your next team member.
BONUS: Be ready for a counteroffer
If you have been in an embargo regarding an aspect of the offer, such as salary, they may boomerang really quickly.
They have decided you are their person, and after they extended the offer to you - and after they made the decision to make you the job offer (if they hadn't already), they have rationalized that you are the best person.
When you decline you may see the salary component skyrocket, equity flow like an uncapped fire hydrant, and any other ask you had they would not concede to be served to you on a silver platter.
If this happens, sometimes you may decide to accept it. For instance, if compensation was the issue, and they have solved it, hooray!
But also remember this is a signal to how promotions and compensation may be handled in the future - and how communication and collaboration works at the company.