Job Rejection Letter: Turning Down a Job Offer

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Regardless of the reason you are not accepting a job offer, writing a job rejection letter is the right thing to do. Your first inclination is probably to verbally decline a job, but it is more professional to write an official letter. The purpose of the letter is to notify an employer of your decision to turn down a position.

This type of letter should stay short, concise, courteous and diplomatic. A job rejection letter should also be written immediately after you have made your decision to allow an employer to offer the job to someone else. How to construct your letter and what you say is as important as the letter itself. Use the following guide to write a top-notch job rejection letter to maintain a professional image, and keep the door open for future possibilities.

Planning your job rejection letter

Before you sit down to write a job rejection letter, take a few minutes to plan it. The first thing to consider with your refusal letter is determining the recipient. The recipient is the person who extended the job offer to you; most likely, you have had direct contact with this person at some point during the interview process. This person is addressed by name and title on the top line of your envelope, in the heading of the letter by name and title and in the salutation by name. Personalizing your job rejection letter matters because it recognizes the importance of the person to whom you address the rejection letter and establishes a personal connection.

The next thing to consider in your job rejection letter is the goal and scope. Ultimately, the purpose of your letter is to say no to whatever position was offered to you. Your refusal letter gives the reason why you are not accepting the job. However, you also want to express appreciation for the opportunity, and this is how your job refusal letter should open.

The scope of your refusal letter does not go beyond expressing appreciation and giving the reason why you are turning down a job offer. Whether you are accepting a higher paying position or one that better suits your career goal, be frank, to the point and honest. Always reference the title of the position that you are declining.

Writing the first draft of your job rejection letter

Once you have determined what you want to say and to whom you are addressing a job refusal letter, write a brief outline. An outline allows you to organize your thoughts and create a logical order of what you intend to say. Keeping in mind the goal and scope you have already established, you can complete a brief outline in a few minutes. Jot down a few brief points, and organize them in the order you feel best communicates your refusal. Remember to always start by thanking someone for the opportunity.

From the outline, you can flush out the words of your job rejection letter. For each point you created, flush the thought out into a complete sentence. Do not worry too much about grammar and mechanics in the first draft; you can edit and revise your first copy. Instead, focus on communicating your objective and the scope of the letter effectively to the person who reads it. Remember to include one sentence for each of the points you listed in your outline.

You should close your job rejection letter in a professional manner. After your final paragraph, close with “sincerely” or “thank you,” and include your name and title (when applicable) in print with room for a signature. Any additional information is also included under your signature, such as any included documents or copies sent to other people.

Reviewing and editing your job rejection letter

With your first draft written, you are ready to review and edit your job rejection letter. This is your final inspection. First, read through the letter to ensure your goal, or objective, and the scope is adhered to throughout the letter. Next, use the checklist below to ensure your letter is written well.

  • Use a strong, active voice. Make any changes to ensure this is the case.
  • Check for errors in spelling, grammar, mechanics and punctuation.
  • Maintain a consistent point of view, style and tone.
  • Transition well between paragraphs.
  • Choose words wisely by avoiding jargon, trite language, clichés and ambiguous words.
  • Check your opening and closing.
    • Make sure your opening starts with an appreciate statement and something positive
    • Make sure your closing restates your appreciation.

Tips for writing an effective job rejection letter

After reading the above guide, you are ready to write a professional job rejection letter. By following the guide and remembering the tips below, your refusal letter presents a professional image and stays effective.

Tip #1: Promptness matters. Write your job rejection letter immediately following your decision to turn down a position.

Tip #2: Courtesy goes a long way toward professionalism, keeping the door open to future possibilities and professional networking.

Tip #3: Goodwill is created by writing a job rejection letter. If the future finds you applying with the same employer, your attention to detail and professionalism are likely to be remembered.

Tip #4: Long, rambling explanations or anything negative should never appear in your job rejection letter. Keep things brief, to the point and positive.

Tip #5: Diplomacy is always the best approach if you are turning down a job offer in favor of a better one, so refrain from mentioning the details of another job you have accepted in a job rejection letter. You want to state what impressed you about the company and that you considered the offer carefully, but you decided to take the job that better suited your future goals.

Sample job rejection letter

May 27, 2012

Mr. Hiring Manager
Director of Hiring
Prospective Employer, LLC
1333 Job Lane
Chicago, IL 60614

Dear Mr. Manager:

Thank you for offering me the graphic design position at your firm. Prospective Employer, LLC is exactly the type of company I seek to work within to start my career. Your New Employee Transition program that pairs new workers with seasoned ones for mentoring and guidance is both attractive and impressive.

However, shortly after my interview with you, I received an offer for a similar position in Wisconsin, which removes the need for me to relocate. After much thought and careful consideration, I have decided to accept the position in Wisconsin.

Thank you again for the interview and the offer to work for your company. Under other circumstances, I think it would be the perfect fit. It was a pleasure meeting you and learning about Prospective Employer, LLC.


Ivanna Job