How to Decline or Reject a Job Offer (With Email Example Templates)

What do you do if you’ve received a job offer, but it turns out you need to decline or reject it? That’s a great problem to have, after all, since it means you have the luxury to choose between two job options that were presumably of interest to you. But like any rejection, the way in which you decline or reject the job offer is important. Read on for tips on how to do so gracefully, along with some example emails templates.

Why It’s Important to Be Respectful

The first principle to follow in your rejection letter is to always show respect. The recruiter or hiring manager you have discussed the job opportunity with has taken time out of their busy schedules to consider you for the position, and at the very least, you owe them the decency of showing respect and appreciation for that.

Think about it – after sending your resume in, the recruiter or hiring manager decided to take a chance on you based on what they saw on paper. They believed that there was a good enough chance that you would be a good fit for the job, and that you were genuine when expressing your interest in the job opportunity. The fact that they provided you with an offer letter indicates that they believe you to be a good fit for the job. But, by rejecting the job offer, you are, in a way, saying that they were wrong – and nobody likes to be told they were wrong.

When done with respect, a rejecting a job offer is not a big deal – the hiring manager or recruiter knows that not all job offers will turn into actual jobs filled. However, do know that they will surely be disappointed, if not because they genuinely believed that you would be a good fit, but now they have to return to the drawing board to find another candidate to fill the job.

Although it’s easy to be excited about the job you will ultimately accept, it’s also important not to burn bridges. You never know when you might be in contact again with a recruiter or hiring manager, and a quick but graceful job reject letter can go a long way.

Keep Your Rejection Explanation Simple

There is no need to provide a long explanation of you reasons for not accepting the job offer. Typically, a one or two-sentence explanation is sufficient, and if the interviewing process was sufficiently thorough, the recruiter or hiring manager should already be aware of the details for why you decided to reject the offer.

For example, if during the interview process, you had discussed your salary expectations, the hiring manager would understand your decision to reject the offer if they were not able to match your minimum salary requirement. In this case, a quick explanation is all that is needed – no need to go over the exact numbers and details again.

Avoid Personal Attacks and Provide Business Reasons Only

One of the keys to maintaining respect in your rejection letter is to keep the rejection impersonal, even if the ultimate reason is a purely personal reason. This isn’t dishonesty, as the job offer and job rejection are about a business relationship – you as the employee, and the company as the employer.

How can you do this? The key is to focus not on the person but the business situation. Did you not like your potential boss’ personality? Rather than presenting this as a problem with him or her, you could explain that you have different expectations for cultural fit.

In a similar vein, it may also be helpful to emphasize that you are rejecting the job position offer, and not the company overall (if this is true). In the case that there is a new opening at the company in the future, you may want to keep your options open.

Be Timely

Don’t make any rash decisions, but it is important that you get back to the recruiter or hiring manager as soon as you can. This again goes to respecting their time. The longer you wait to let them know, the less time they have to find a new candidate and fill the vacancy.

Finally, rejecting a job offer through email is fine, but depending on how you and the recruiter were communicating before, you may want to follow through via that communication medium. For example, if you oftentimes spoke directly on the phone, a voice call to follow up may also be a courteous gesture.

Example Email Templates

Now – the hard part. You might know what you want to say, but not exactly how to say it. Below, we’ve put together some example emails that you are free to use parts or all of in your job offer rejection letter.

Example #1:

Dear Sarah,

Thank you very much for the job offer for [job role name here]. After giving the opportunity much thought, I have decided not to accept the job offer.

Although I believe the career growth opportunities at your company would have been a great fit for me, the salary that the position offers is unfortunately less than what I am currently looking for.

I sincerely hope that there may be an opportunity in the future, and wish you the best.


[Your Name Here]

Example #2:

Dear Mr. Smith,

I sincerely appreciate the job offer letter for [job role name here]. I have made a decision to pursue another opportunity elsewhere at this time.

While I do find many aspects of the role appealing, I came to the conclusion that the position is not a great fit with my long term career goals.

Thank you for considering me for the position, and I hope that we may keep in touch.

Best Regards,

[Your Name Here]

Example #3:

Hi Josh,

I have reviewed your job offer letter. After careful consideration, I have decided to not move forward with this opportunity at this time.

As discussed during our interviews, due to family obligations, I have limited ability for extended work travel, and am afraid that I would not be able to commit to the travel days required by this role.

I am disappointed that this will keep me from accepting the job, as I believe all other aspects of the role are an excellent fit.

Please keep in touch and do let me know if any opportunities with less travel required may arise in the future.


[Your Name Here]

Example #4:

To Steve:

Thank you so much for the opportunity and job offer. After much consideration, I have decided that I will be pursuing other options at this point in my career.

I hope to keep in touch and if there are future opportunities at your company, I would love a chance to discuss them with you.

Warm regards,

[Your Name Here]