Climb the Ladder

The Right Way to Turn Down a Job Offer

You got a job offer! Awesome!




Ok so not all jobs are what you might have hoped them to be and that’s ok! There’s more fish in the sea. So what do you do when it’s time to say “Thanks, but…. No thanks”?

Try to negotiate first

One of the beautiful things about the job hunt is the art of negotiation. You never know what a company might be willing to budge on and what is set in stone. So ask! Be transparent about how you’re feeling about the job and what could really help you say “yes” to their offer. At the very worst, they would say no and then you decide whether to move on or not. Best case scenario, you’re able to negotiate a situation where you’re happy to work for the company and they’re happy to bring you on board. Win-win!

Always always always be polite

However, when it comes to turning down a job offer, the first rule is the golden rule: always treat others how you would like to be treated. Do your best to keep the relationship strong and their opinion of you high. Always emphasize your appreciation in being considered in the first place.  It doesn’t matter if you thought their offer was outrageously low or if the job was nothing like what the description said. It doesn’t matter if your interviewer was your ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. Be nice. Be polite. You never know where you or those who interviewed you will be down the road. You could end up interviewing with them again or they may be good friends with the next person who interviews you. Your safest bet is to leave the torch at home and let the bridges stand, even if you do have a few things on your mind you’d like to say.

Connect on LinkedIn

That said, maybe you had a great experience interviewing with the company but just found a better opportunity elsewhere! No hard feelings there. If you were offered a job at all, you know the company thinks highly of your skills and may even endorse you for a few of them on LinkedIn. It’s always a good idea to connect with people you actually know on LinkedIn but connecting with those who value and can endorse your skill set? Gold.

Tell the truth

You may be nervous about what to say to the hiring manager but, when it comes down to it, they’re a real person who has some sort of understanding of how life goes. If the compensation isn’t enough, it’s ok to say that, just in a respectful and professional way. You know, something along the lines of,


“Hi John,

Thank you so much for inviting me to interview the other day. I had a great time getting to know you and the company better- it truly seems like a great place to work. Unfortunately, after looking into our area’s cost of living and taking into account my own needs [/ the needs of my family, etc], I’m afraid I won’t be able to accept a salary of less than _______. If there is any room for negotiation, I’d love to talk more. Otherwise, I will probably have to turn the offer down.”


If you are going to turn down a job because of the compensation, the important thing is that you back up why you believe you should be paid more. Does someone with the same experience in the same position in the same area usually get paid more? Then say that- nicely. More on that in a future blog post.


Of course, you could be turning down the job for a number of different reasons. Maybe you realized you don’t want to work in a medical setting, maybe it’s too far from home, maybe the place gave you the heebie-jeebies. While you don’t need to give specifics about why you’re turning down the offer, be clear and upfront that it’s a no from you and that you’re going to be moving on to other opportunities.


Offer Referrals

The Muse gives the advice to offer referrals to others you know who may be a better fit for the position you were offered. By doing this, you’ll still stay on great terms with the company by sharing something helpful/of value with them. By doing so, you’re keeping the door wide open for future or even current potions that may be a better fit for you.

Rip off the band-aid

This goes hand in hand with being truthful. Of course, you may need some time to weigh your options between multiple job offers, and that’s ok, recruiters often understand that. But if possible, try to keep the company in the loop on where you’re at. And then once you know it’ll be a “no” for that company, tell them as soon as possible. They’ll appreciate your candor as well as your timeliness because getting a quick response from you may mean locking down their #2 candidate faster.


Was there ever a time when you thought you’d turn down an offer but it turned into a great negotiating experience? Share your own stories and tips below and share with a friend who’s always in a good mood on Mondays.



Ok so not all jobs are what you might have hoped them to be and that’s ok! There’s more fish in the sea. So what do you do when it’s time to turn down a job offer?

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