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How To Decline A Job Offer

Published: Wednesday 17th June 2015

Male employee, looking down at a table, with both hands on back of his head


Being given a job offer is not necessarily the end of your job search. This is an opportunity for you to weigh up the pros and cons of the job and its contractual conditions and to try to negotiate if necessary. You might be dealing with multiple job offers at the same time, or you might realise the job you thought was right for you is actually far from perfect. 

Declining a job offer is not much fun, but it is necessary not to burn your bridges with an employer. How do you do it? 

Be Honest

If you feel the job isn’t right for you, it’s probably not. If the job doesn’t match your job description on too many points, you are likely to feel dissatisfied soon after accepting. During the interview you might have realised that the employer wasn’t right for you, or you might feel that you weren’t a good cultural fit for the company. One example would be if you were looking for a level of flexibility and realised during the interviewing process that this was not likely to be offered to you. If a job offer is non-negotiable to your terms, you have to be honest about how important these terms are for you. 

Be Formal

Declining a job offer is not a fun thing to do. It could even be considered rather awkward, after you have spent time trying to convince an employer that you are perfect for the job. It’s important to bear in mind that interviews are a two-way process and that just like the employer can decide that you are not the right fit for their team, you can decide that the opportunity wasn’t right for you after all. It is, however, important that you follow the rules of declining when you have made your decision. Formally declining is important to leave a good impression, as well as an open door for potential future collaboration. As soon as you receive the offer, acknowledge receipt of it and let the employer know you will get back to them. And as soon as you have made the decision, speak to the employer on the phone, followed by an email confirmation. 

Be Fair

Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to accept multiple offers at the same time to buy yourself a little more decision time. Leading a company on is highly unprofessional and you will burn your bridges if you do this. You should also expect that if you decline an offer because of the contract terms were non-negotiable, you might be asked to discuss these terms a little further. However, it’s important that you don’t continue to negotiate unless you are positive that the changes you are trying to introduce will make a difference for your decision. 

If you are looking for a new job, you could download our Zoek app to help you find your next dream job. The app can be downloaded on iOS or Android.

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