How To Decline a Job Offer Due to Salary (With Examples)

Updated January 30, 2023

Because companies often have budgets they must adhere to, some open positions may not offer a competitive salary. Therefore, some professionals may need to decline a job offer due to a low salary. While it's possible to negotiate a higher salary or better benefits for a position, some companies won't offer a higher salary.

In this article, we examine why a professional may decline a job offer due to salary and how to do it, including steps, tips and examples to help you decline a job opportunity due to a low salary offer.

Why decline a job offer due to salary?

Some professionals may need to decline a job offer because the salary that the employer is offering is too low to meet their minimum expectations. Professionals set minimum salary expectations for a variety of reasons, such as their personal cost of living or the market value for professionals with their talents. Some employers don't disclose the salary for a certain position until they're sure they found the right candidate, so you could discover late in the job application process that the salary for the position that you're interviewing for is too low to accept.

Here are some other reasons you may need to decline a job offer because of the salary:

Living expenses

If a salary is below your minimum rate, it's likely that you may not be able to maintain your lifestyle comfortably. In order to ensure your salary can cover your living costs, consider adding up your monthly expenses and subtracting them from the pay you would receive if you take the job offer. While it may not be a living expense, it's also important to consider your saving goals. If the gross pay you receive isn't enough to cover your living expenses and saving goals, you may not want to accept the job offer.

Competitive offers

If you apply to multiple jobs at once, you may receive higher offers from other employers. While these jobs may be more or less interesting depending on the other aspects of the positions, such as job tasks and growth opportunities, you may be more inclined to accept a higher-paying position. In some cases, your current salary may be higher than the rate hiring managers are offering, which you can use as a bargaining method or decline the offer and continue working in your current position until you find an offer with a higher salary.

Market value

By researching the average salary and benefits for a professional working in a similar position as you, you may learn that the offer is below the market value for a professional with your qualifications. If the salary a company is offering is below the average pay for a professional in a similar position, you may be able to use this information to negotiate a higher salary. You might also use this information to find another offer with a more market-appropriate salary.

Related: Tips for How To Write Your Expected Salary in Your Resume

How to decline a job offer due to salary

If you're considering declining a job offer because of its low salary, try to follow these steps:

1. Evaluate the offer

Before making your final decision, evaluate the job offer and consider both the pros and cons of accepting or declining it. For example, though the salary may be low, the job could offer better benefits such as health insurance or more paid time off. You may also still want to accept the job if you really enjoy the work or need a position right away. Consider your budget to evaluate whether you're able to accept the job offer.

Related: How To Reply to a Job Offer

2. Research the average salary for the position

To ensure an accurate salary expectation for your career, research the average salary for a professional working in your position. It can also be important to consider your experience and education qualifications, as professionals who have advanced degrees or high experience levels often can earn more. Researching the average salary for the job position can help you understand how the salary the employer is offering compares to the market value for the role.

3. Consider negotiating

If everything other than the salary interests you about the job offer, you may want to consider negotiating for a higher salary. To do this, contact the hiring manager and let them know you are considering the job offer. Try asking if the company has the budget to negotiate the salary and what range they can offer for the position. Then, you can use your research to propose a counteroffer.

If they accept your counteroffer, you can then move on to accept the job and start your onboarding process.

Read more: Advice on How To Negotiate, Accept or Decline a Job Offer

4. Respectfully decline the offer

If the employer is unwilling or unable to negotiate the salary, you may need to decline the offer. To do this, try to communicate with the hiring manager directly. Choose your preferred communication medium, either email, phone or in-person, to inform the hiring manager you're declining the offer. Consider a phrase such as:

"I appreciate the job offer, however, I must decline."

5. Consider explaining your decision

While hiring managers can't require you to explain your decision, you may choose to. If you decide to inform the hiring manager why you are declining the offer, try to be as polite as possible when explaining that you can't accept a job under your pay range. Providing an explanation may give the employer an opportunity to offer a counter offer. Even if it doesn't, it can still be helpful to explain your reasoning to the hiring manager.

6. Thank them and consider the networking opportunity

When declining a job offer, it's important to thank the hiring manager for the opportunity and the original offer. This is a polite and professional practice that allows you to stay in the manager's good favor. Even if you're not accepting a position at their company, job offers are often excellent networking opportunities. When declining the role, consider extending your interest in working with the company in the future if their budget expands. This can help you earn job opportunities in the future.

Sample responses for declining a job offer due to salary

Consider reviewing these sample responses for declining a job offer because of a low salary:

Declining the offer in person

You may choose to decline an offer in person if the hiring manager offers you the position during or after your job interview. If you're sure that you want to decline, consider saying something like this:

"I appreciate the offer and your time, but I can't accept this position at the salary you're offering. If the salary range is something that can be negotiated, please let me know."

Declining the offer over the phone

If the hiring manager offers you the job after your interview or if you took time to think about your answer before responding, you may want to talk to the hiring manager over the phone. To do this, call their workplace and ask to speak to them directly. Consider saying something like this:

"Hello. This is Will Swan. I wanted to thank you for the interview and job offer you extended to me yesterday. While this seems like a wonderful company to work for, unfortunately, I must decline the job offer, as the role doesn't meet my salary expectations. Thank you again for this opportunity. I enjoyed meeting with you. If the salary for this position changes in the future, I'd love the chance to reapply for the role. Otherwise, I wish you the best in your search for the right candidate. Have a great day."

Read more: How To Decline a Job Offer Over the Phone (With Examples)

Declining the offer via email

Communicating with the hiring manager via email may be more convenient and practical, depending on the position and your past communication with the employer. When declining a job offer via email, consider writing something like this:

Dear Sebastian,

Thank you so much for offering me the position of social media manager at SpotCheque. While I really appreciate the offer to work for such a great company, I, unfortunately, must decline at this time, as the salary isn't within my preferred range.

I had a wonderful time speaking with you during the interview. I wish you luck in your search for a candidate. Thank you again for this opportunity.


Related: How To Decline a Job Offer (With Email Examples)

Tips for declining a job offer due to salary

In order to help you decline a job offer in confidence, try following these tips:

  • Be concise. When declining an offer, respond concisely to save time and express your decision clearly.

  • Think it over. If possible, ask for time to make a decision. This allows you to consider the pros and cons.

  • Offer to stay in communication. Even when declining the position, offering to stay in contact allows you to build your professional network.

  • Consider other benefits. Even if the job doesn't offer pay in your salary range, it may offer equally valuable benefits.

  • Provide a salary range. Consider providing a salary range early in the interview process to save time and find jobs that are a good fit for you.

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