How To (Politely) Turn Down A Job

How To (Politely) Turn Down A Job

There are several reasons you may need to turn down a job. You may be lucky enough to experience the dilemma of receiving multiple offers. Or you may decide that a position just isn’t the right fit for you after the interview. 

There is also a possibility that you may need to turn down a job offer (maybe even a promotion) inside your firm. The reasons can be that you love your current role and your team and you want to maintain your status quo. The job might come with management responsibilities that you don’t want to take on. Or you simply think that the job is not the right fit for you.

Regardless of the why, there are a few things you will need to consider. The following tips will help you respectfully turn down a job but in a way in a way that doesn’t burn any bridges. And so that you you may still be considered in the future.

First: Do a Final Check!

02 Do a final check

Take some moments to reflect if you are really not interested in the job. After all, once you turn down a job offer, there is little chance an employer might consider you again. 

To be certain that you’re not interested in the opportunity, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Why am I not interested in this job? If there is anything you can negotiate with the employer, then do it. Negotiate your salary, working hours, benefits, location, etc. 
  • Is the reason I’m not interested in this job likely to change anytime soon? Is it something that will be changed in the near future and it’s worth turning a blind eye to in favor of all the benefits? 
  • Will this opportunity help me accomplish my future plans?

Then, In Order to (Politely) Turn Down a Job Offer

Step 1: Send a Timely Response

03 Step 1- Send a Timely Response

Declining a job offer might feel a little awkward. Therefore you may feel tempted to procrastinate when it comes to sending your response.

But the best thing you can do is let the company know your decision as soon as possible. That way they can continue with their search. And you can return your focus to jobs that actually do interest you.

As soon as you’ve made up your mind to turn down a job, contact the person who sent you the offer. You could make a phone call, but it’s usually best to have a documented response. So an email might be preferable.

Step 2: Don’t Forget to Express Your Appreciation

04 Step 2- Don’t Forget to Express Your Appreciation

Start your email by expressing your appreciation for the job offer. 

It’s still an honor to be chosen, especially when there were other candidates on the list. Yes, interviewing potential candidates is part of the job, but this person likely spent several hours reading your resume, going through your social media profiles, and sitting down with you for interviews. He or she also may have gone out on a limb to talk you up to other members of the team.

So, a heartfelt—and specific—thank-you for that time and effort will go a long way.

A simple phrase like, “Thank you very much for offering me the position of [position title] with [company name]” is usually sufficient.

Step 3: Provide a Reason 

05 Step 3- Provide a Reason

It’s the right and respectful thing to do not to leave a hiring manager in the dark about why you’re declining the position. That said, there’s also no need to go into detail. You don’t need to talk about the red flags you saw in your potential boss. Instead, talk about the amazing perks of the job you did accept. Or moan that you’ve spent the past week agonizing over your decision.

The best approach is to be brief but honest about your specific reason for not accepting the position, saying something like:

  • After careful consideration, I’ve decided to accept a position at another company.
  • After much thought, I’ve decided that now is not the best time to leave my current position.
  • While this position seems like a great opportunity, I have decided to pursue another role that will offer me more opportunities to pursue my interests in marketing and social media.

Bonus tip: Be as transparent as possible 

To avoid the awkwardness, you should be as transparent as possible in the interview process about what you really need to make the position acceptable to you. Then, if the offer does not meet your stated requirements, it won’t be a surprise to the potential employer when you decline.

However, If You Want to (Politely) Turn Down a Job Promotion

When it comes to a job promotion, the situation is a little different. While in most cases, a promotion is a welcome and often anticipated there are some situations in which it’s not the right career move. 

Step 1: Focus On The Positive 

Step 1- Focus On The Positive

Above all, focus on the positive when you decline the offer. You’re not saying “no” to the position you’re being offered as much as you’re saying “yes” to what you’re already doing presently.

For example, if you are a salesperson, speak about your passion for sales and your aim to be the top salesperson. Convey your belief that your strengths are more suited for excellence in sales as opposed to management.

In another example, if you are a software developer, you could emphasize your interest in problem-solving and troubleshooting through hands-on coding rather than managing staff.

Step 2: Be Straightforward With Your Boss

 Step 2- Be Straightforward With Your Boss

Even if a new job opportunity can potentially leave you overworked, unhappy, or unfulfilled, the idea of turning down a promotion is still inconceivable. There’s this fear of appearing ungrateful for the opportunity or as if you’re not serious about your job. While these are valid concerns, it’s OK to turn down a promotion if you decide it’s not right for you. 

One of the blunders the employees generally do is not telling their boss straightforwardly about declining the promotion. Either they are too scared to tell or instead tell it to their co-workers. 

Remember, your boss should be the first person to learn about your declination.

And here are seven valid reasons why turning down a promotion might be a step in the right—not wrong—direction.

Step 3: (If It’s Not The Right Time) Make It Clear That You’re Interested In Further Opportunities

Step 3- (If It's Not The Right Time) Make It Clear That You're Interested In Further Opportunities

You may be offered a promotion and feel that your skillset isn’t quite at the level it ought to be for the role. This is a valid reason to turn down a promotion. However, it’s worth considering if it’s just self-doubt. Often, a lack of confidence and belief in yourself can lead to you falsely thinking you aren’t ready for the next step.

It’s important to be career-ready if you want to climb the corporate ladder. And, sometimes, the best way to make yourself prepared for a new role is to do the job. So, if you find that you’re still suffering a skills gap, you can approach your employer for extra training. After all, they wanted you in the role. This is all worth factoring in before turning down a promotion.

Another option is to try out the new job

An alternative to just saying no is to try out a new position. You could offer to take on the role temporarily or help with some of the responsibilities associated with the higher-level job if your employer is in need.

If you are sure that you want to return to your current job, it’s best to agree on an end date for the larger role ahead of time. It’s also possible that once you take on the higher-level job, you’ll find it’s a good fit and will decide to take the promotion permanently.

The Importance of Saying No

The importance of saying No

Saying no doesn’t come easily to many of us. We want to live up to attributes valued in the workplace. We want to be team players and go-to people. Guilt and anxiety can prompt us to accept more work when we shouldn’t. However, Forbes magazine says that when you strategically and respectfully decline an assignment, you give your career a boost. Here’s why: You earn respect. 

Say you’re given an assignment outside your job description. The assignment could easily be done by someone else. So by accepting the assignment, you jeopardize the work you’re paid to do. Respectfully decline, and you earn respect by demonstrating your commitment to the job you were hired for.

In Conclusion

Declining a job offer is a big decision and it can be frightening. But when it comes down to it, it’s all about treating the company the way you want to be treated. 

You can be professional and kind and turn down a job in a way that you are still positively remembered by the company for future openings. But only if you follow the steps above!

Now, get out there and accept the job offer you really want.


Biljana Martinić

Captain of Red Hair Pirates. Song Sommelier. Dragonologist. Talks to animals and they often talk back. Shyness that is criminally vulgar. Bounty hunter. And a nostalgia consultant.

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