Getting a job offer feels exhilarating! After all, you’ve made it through the hiring process and survived some sleepless nights thinking about the possibility of a new job.

But the offer comes in… and it’s underwhelming.

Whatever the reason, you’re now wondering what to do next. And if you’re reading this article, you’ve probably already decided to decline the offer (graciously, of course!) or counter.

Learn strategies for a professional response using email templates for several scenarios.

Let’s go!

Respond Promptly and Politely

Feel free to use our email templates below on your job offer decline. Here’s the overview of the email:

  • First, respond promptly. While this has been a journey for you, the hiring organization has invested a lot of time. They’ve advertised the position, culled resumes, organized interviews, debated about candidates, and put together a salary and benefits package. Don’t make them wait an unnecessarily long time to hear back. 
  • Second, acknowledge the offer and include the company name and job position in your email response. Personalize it for the organization and individual. 
  • Third, express your gratitude for their time and effort. This is especially important if you have gone through multiple interviews or calls.
  • Fourth, briefly and politely decline the offer using phrases like “difficult decision” or “carefully considered.”

Depending on the formality of your process, you may also want to include a sentence about the opportunity for future connection. For example, will you see the hiring manager at a future networking event, or is there a way you can follow up with a resource they were interested in?

Whatever you decide, always end on a high note! Include something you found appealing about the company or learned in your job interview. Leave them with a positive feeling about you. You’ll never know when you might cross paths with this individual or company again, and you want to leave the door open for the future.

Declining the Offer Over the Phone

If you’ve made a connection with the hiring manager, it might be worth it to connect over the phone using the principles above.

Here’s a sample script to keep you in good standing with the hiring manager:

Hello, [hiring manager name.] 

[Insert nicety.]

I wanted to follow up on your offer for the [position name.] I appreciate the opportunity you’ve offered.

It was a difficult decision, but I’ve concluded that it’s best for me to [move in another direction / stay in my current position] and [insert brief reason why].

I hope we can stay connected through [LinkedIn / professional organization}.

Thank you again for your time.

If you cannot connect with a phone call or feel like an email would be more appropriate, it’s entirely acceptable to reply via email. Here are 3 examples you can modify for your situation.

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3 Email Scripts, Templates & Examples for Declining a Job Offer

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Job Offer Rejection Template When You’re Choosing a Different Field 

Subject line: Job offer – [Your name] [Position]

Dear [insert recipient’s name],

Thank you for offering me the role of [job title]. It was a pleasure to meet you and discuss a future at [company name] during the interview process.

After much consideration, I decided to decline the offer to pursue a position in a different field.

Again, thank you for your time and consideration. I hope we cross paths in the future.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

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Job Offer Rejection Template When You’re Pursuing a Position that Aligns With Your Passion or Goals

Subject line: Job offer – [Your name] [Position]

Dear [insert recipient’s name],

Thank you for your time and the generous offer as [job title] at [company name]. After careful consideration, I’ve decided to take a different position that aligns with my interest in [field].

On a more personal note, I wanted to add I thought the employee engagement activities you mentioned in the follow-up interview were incredible. I hope you won’t mind me borrowing them for our next [activity]. I look forward to seeing you then.

Thank you again for your time. I wish [company name] the best in finding a good fit for [position name].

Best regards,

[Your name]

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Job Offer Rejection Template When You’ve Decided to Stay in Your Current Position

Subject line: Job offer – [Your name] [Position]

Dear [insert recipient’s name],

Thank you for the generous offer as [job title] at [company name]. After much deliberation, I’ve decided to stay with my current employer. Unfortunately, new and extenuating circumstances don’t make this the best time for me to switch organizations. However, I would love to stay in touch about future opportunities at [company name].

You mentioned that you were looking for an outstanding [job title] during recruitment. I want to connect you with one of my colleagues through LinkedIn to see if they are a good fit for your needs.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to interview. I sincerely appreciate your time.

Best regards,

[Your name]

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If You Need More Time, Send a Brief Email

If you’re considering multiple offers simultaneously or cannot decide what to do, buy yourself some time by sending a quick acknowledgment email. It shows professionalism to the hiring manager. 

Try sending an email like the one below to the hiring manager:

Subject line: Job offer – [Your name] [Position]

Dear [insert recipient’s name],

Thank you so much for the generous offer for [position name]. I am carefully reviewing it and will respond to you by the end of the day on [day and date]. Your patience is greatly appreciated.

Please reach out if you have any questions in the interim.

Kind regards,

[Your name]

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How to Make a Counteroffer

Good employees have a lot of power in this current job market, with a record number of people leaving for positions with better pay, more opportunities for advancement, and more work-life balance and flexibility.

A recent Pew Research survey found that this and feeling disrespected at work were the top reasons Americans quit last year. The survey also found that 60% of those who switched jobs got paid more than if they had stayed in the same position.

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Tips for Countering a Job Offer Email 

Use these tips to counter for a better offer:

  1. Acknowledge the offer. Thank the HR or hiring manager. Mention your excitement at being selected as the right candidate for their long-term needs.
  2. Show appreciation and enthusiasm for the position and company. Try to mention a specific reason the opportunity is attractive—such as the company culture, compensation package, or future opportunities.
  3. Express your intent. Mention that you’d like to find a way to make the offer a better fit for you and your current career goals. 
  4. Request. Ask to set up a meeting to discuss the offer, preferably in person.
  5. Wrap up. Thank your potential employer for their time and effort.

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Email Template for Countering an Offer

Here’s an example:

Dear [insert recipient’s name],

Thank you for the generous offer for the position of [job title]. I’m excited about the possibility of joining the team. 

I would love the opportunity to discuss a scenario that would make this a better fit for us. Please let me know the best time for us to discuss this. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,

[Your name]

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How to Negotiate a Better Offer

After you’ve sent the email, arm yourself with strong negotiation strategies. Some of our favorites include:

Sit at an angle: Sitting at an angle rather than straight-on can appear less confrontational and negative and more open and receptive. This can help improve the perception that you’re both operating on the same team.

Meet in person: Researchers found that face-to-face contact fosters rapport and improves negotiating outcomes. Whenever possible, do your negotiation in person or at least on video chat.

Consider meeting over lunch: Researchers Margaret Neale and doctoral student Peter Belmi found that sharing food helps create more valuable deals in competitive negotiations. Read more at How to Negotiate: 12 Science-Based Strategies to Win.

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What to Do After Rejecting a Job Offer:

This is a great time to brainstorm your why. What is driving you away from your position or leading you toward a different career path, position, or company? 

Best-selling author James Clear talks about moving toward the next right thing instead of away from the last thing. 

“If something isn’t going well, then don’t run from it. Find something else to get excited about instead. Spend as much time as possible doing things that pull you in rather than pushing frustration away.”

—James Clear

Action Step: If you don’t know what is guiding your desire for change, take five minutes to think about or jot down a few things you like and dislike about your current position.

For example, your list may look something like this:

What I like about my current job:

  • The mission of our company is to help others live well with diabetes
  • Flex Fridays
  • My co-workers!
  • Bagels on Tuesdays

What I dislike about my current job:

  • Lack of positive feedback
  • My boss is incompetent and takes credit for my work
  • Unattainable sales goals
  • Inconsistent communication from management

After you work through the list, you may also want to think about which items you have control over and what you don’t, and what might change with a new position. Don’t miss How to Find a Job You Love for more food for thought.

Deeper Dive: If you have time to dig even deeper, consider these questions about your ideal work environment. 

  • Do you enjoy leading a team or being an individual contributor?
  • Do you geek out on quantitative analysis or thrive in creative processes?
  • Is it essential to have flexibility around your work location and schedule?
  • Do you prefer routine or like more variety?
  • If you could create a perfect day, what activities would it involve?

For example, a sample schedule of a fulfilling workday might look like this.

Ideal Work Day Schedule
8:30-9:00 Catch up on emails and review your to-do list
9-11:00 Writing and deep thinking time block
11-11:30 Team project meeting
11:30-12:30 Create a task list of follow-up items and do the easy ones right away 
12:30-1:30 Walk to lunch with a co-worker from a different department Work from home option: Walk the dog while listening to a podcast
1:30-3:00 Review a second project and work on associated tasks
3-3:30 Walk to a co-worker’s work state to discuss creative concepts to combat the after-lunch energy slump.Work from home option: Put on some favorite tunes for a dance break.
3:30-5:30 Follow up on any additional emails and items that can be wrapped up; Prepare a tasks list for the next day.

For additional action steps and questions to consider, learn about the components of creating a job happiness plan at Be Happy at Work: 10 Science-Baked Ways You Can Be Happier.

Want to learn more about the science of succeeding with people?

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Succeed with People

Master the laws of human behavior and get along with anyone, increasing your influence, impact, and income as a result.

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How to Reject a Job Offer: Key Takeaways 

A recruitment process that results in a job offer doesn’t always mean it’s a good match for you. Knowing how to respond professionally is vital. 

Specifically,

  1. Understand Your Why: Honing in on the factors or components that motivate and bring you happiness will provide clues on whether the offer is a good fit. 
  2. Be Professional: Regardless of the direction you pursue, always be positive and professional. You never know when you will cross paths with that individual or company in the future. Be sure the lasting impression is at least neutral, if not optimistic.
  3. Set Yourself Up for Success: If you try to negotiate for a better offer, set yourself up for the best outcoming using your body language, an in-person meeting, and data to support your position.

And when you do find the correct position and are ready to resign, read 18 Professional Email Tips to Craft Your Next Email (With Templates!) and reference the Resigning From a Job Email Template.

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