Declining an Accepted Job Offer: How To Do It Gracefully

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated June 30, 2022 | Published February 25, 2020

Updated June 30, 2022

Published February 25, 2020

Related: What to Consider Before Accepting a Job Offer: Everything You Need to Know!

From salary expectations to company culture, this video covers what you should consider before taking the next step in your career journey.

You completed a job search, applied for the job, had the interview and were offered the open position. However, after you accepted the new role you later decided it wasn't the best option for you. If this ever happens to you, it's important to know how to decline a job offer you've already accepted in a manner that's professional and courteous.

In this article, we discuss things to consider when declining an accepted job offer, how to do it gracefully and professionally, and we provide a job letter template and sample to help you write your own.

Making the decision to reject a job offer

Searching for a new job can be an exciting process, especially when you receive the offer of a job for a company that you had a successful interview with. You may have immediately accepted the offer because you were delighted at the possibility of working with them, but your circumstances changed, another job offer arrived in the mail or after thinking it through, you decided that the job was not the best fit. It happens. This said, if you've changed your mind, you need to contact the employer as quickly as possible and with the right etiquette.

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

Guide to writing a job offer rejection

Understanding the process of declining an accepted job offer can help you feel more confident. Here are the steps you should follow to write a letter rejecting a job offer you have already accepted:

1. Be certain about your decision to reject the job offer

You should take your time to consider your decision. You must make sure that you are absolutely certain that you do not want the job. It may be useful to write a list of the advantages and disadvantages of rejecting the job that you have already accepted before reaching out to the employer.

2. Check your contract

You may have progressed to the stage of signing an employment contract with your employer. If this is the case, you must read your contract thoroughly to find out what terms and conditions are listed with regards to terminating your employment. You may find that there is a time frame that allows you to reject the offer of employment.

3. Act quickly

While you should consider your position carefully and take the time to read your contract, it's important that you act as quickly as possible once you have made the decision to reject the job offer. Your employer will appreciate you notifying them promptly and will be more likely to respect your decision. They will likely need to find a replacement for the position that you accepted and may be able to offer the job to another candidate that was interviewed.

4. Think about alternatives

Consider what you might be willing to accept as an alternative to rejecting the job offer. Ask yourself if there is anything that the employer could offer you that may make you reconsider working with them. Think carefully about these possibilities before you contact the company. If you think a higher salary, fewer hours or different responsibilities will make you reconsider declining the offer, consider renegotiating the terms of your employment. If you think the job would require too much of a time commitment due to a long commute, consider asking about the possibility to work remotely. Or, if you decided that you are unable to work full time because you want to go back to school, see if they'll work with your schedule.

If your decision is based on personal circumstances, consider asking the employer if they can give you extra time to make a decision. Your situation could change and allow you to accept the offer.

Related: How to Negotiate Salary (With Tips and Examples)

5. Use a straightforward and honest approach

You should always be honest with the employer about your reasons for declining an accepted job offer, but use tact and avoid insulting the company. Keep a positive, professional tone and be concise.

6. Show gratitude

It is important to thank your employer for the opportunity that they have offered you. Let them know that you enjoyed meeting them during the interview and that you were impressed with the company. Focus on the positive experiences you had with them and the things that you liked about them. You may want to work with this employer in the future or find your interviewer working with a different company that you interview with so always remain positive and grateful.

7. Pick up the phone

While you may be nervous to phone or meet with your employer to deliver the job rejection to them, there are advantages to doing so. Calling the employer first is professional, personal and gives you the opportunity to explain your circumstances before sending the letter. This can improve your chances of preserving a positive relationship with them. Once you have had this conversation, you can send an official letter or email declining the offer.

8. Learn from the experience

After you have declined the job offer, take steps to learn from this experience and try to prevent it from happening again in the future. Before accepting another job, consider the offer carefully and ask for a longer period of time to decide if you need to.

Related: How to Reply to a Job Offer

Template

Here is a template you can modify for your own use to decline a job offer that you have already accepted:

[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[Your City, State and Zip Code]
[Your Phone Number]
[Your Email]

[Hiring Manager or Recruiter's Name]
[Company Name]
[Company City, State and Zip Code]

[Date]

Dear [Name of Hiring Manager],

Thank you so much for the offer for the position of [Job Title] to join [Name of Company].

I am very grateful for the time you have spent considering me and for offering me the opportunity to work with you and the team. I was impressed with [Name of Company] and can see why you have been so successful.

Unfortunately, after careful consideration, I have decided that I must decline your offer. My circumstances mean I am now unable to join you at [Name of Company]. [Offer a brief, honest description of the reasons you are unable to accept the role.]

I thank you for the opportunity and wish [Name of Company] continued success.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Example

Here is an example of a letter declining an accepted job offer using the template above:

Robin Leigh
206 North Street
New York, NY 10055
(555) 436-2221
Robin.Leigh@email.com

Jo Ellal
Brogan Accounting
100 Down Avenue
New York, NY 10031

January 3, 2020

Dear Mr. Ellal,

Thank you so much for the offer for the position of Accounting Trainee to join Brogan Accounting.

I am very grateful for the time you have spent considering me and for offering me the opportunity to work with you and the team. I was impressed with Brogan Accounting and can see why you have been so successful.

Unfortunately, after careful consideration, I have decided that I must decline your offer. My circumstances mean I am now unable to join you at Brogan Accounting. My mother has become unwell and I must return to Europe to help care for her. I plan on leaving the USA in the next few days and will likely be away for six months.

I thank you for the opportunity and wish Brogan Accounting continued success.

Best regards,

Robin Leigh

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