Career & Education

How to decline a job offer

Carolyn Marie Smith

Sunday, January 13, 2019

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Dear Career Advisor:

I have received my first offer of employment, which a friend is urging me to take, but having reviewed everything, including my career goal, I no longer desire to accept. Would declining the offer verbally be adequate or do I have to write a letter? I don't know if there is such a thing as a rejection letter. If I am to write a letter would you please guide me in what to say?

Thanks in advance.

Loraine V

Dear Loraine:

Congratulations on your receipt of a job offer! This is indicative that your job search strategy is reaping rewards.

Don't be pressured into accepting an offer because it is the first to be received or because others think you should. An offer of employment should always be carefully considered before either accepting or declining. Be sure to evaluate the offer in relation to your current circumstances as well as your career goals.

If the offer of employment was made verbally then it would be okay to reject verbally. However, whereas it is okay to use the same method of communication used by the recruiter, sending a formal letter indicating that you are declining the offer is better for your professional image and your career footprint. Yes, rejection letters are not only sent by employers but by job seekers as well.

Consider these tips when composing your rejection letter.

Use full-block format as you did for your application letter.

Structure the letter in three brief paragraphs.

In the opening paragraph express appreciation for the offer indicating the specific job position. You could also express appreciation for the fact that you were allowed adequate time to consider the offer.

In the second paragraph, if honest and relevant, briefly affirm the organisation for something specific either about the company or the position. For example, the excellent customer service received from or observed among front line staff during the interview process. Indicate that having given careful consideration to the offer, you have to respectfully decline, as doing otherwise would not be in keeping with your mutual interests or be suitably aligned to your career goal.

End by again thanking them for the courtesy of the offer.

All the best in your pursuits.


Career Advisor

Carolyn Marie Smith is associate vice-president of student services at Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville, Manchester. Submit your questions to her at

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