This week, we will discuss a topic that could impact your long-term career: what if you have to reject a job offer?

Having an offer you want to reject could be a good problem. It means that you have successfully managed the recruitment process and have options.

However, if not done diplomatically and professionally, it could harm your opportunities in the future. The world is small, and people remember.

The Scenarios of Rejecting an Offer

Two scenarios would drive you to reject an offer. Firstly, the initial offer does not meet your needs, and lastly, you have two or more offers from other companies.

In both scenarios, it is essential to clearly understand why you are rejecting the offer.

The second scenario—where you have other offers—is more straightforward because there’s a comparative choice to be made, but still, it is essential to know why you are taking one offer over the other.

The first scenario can be relative to your current position. We still need clear reasons to explain that you are not here to intentionally waste the company’s time.

The Reasons for Rejecting an Offer

We’d like you to please understand why you rejected the offer. We hope you have already considered your salary and benefits requirements, the desired work culture, job responsibilities, job title, reporting relationship, etc.

The second step is to be clear if it is a final decision or you are willing to negotiate. The company may not, but there are several scenarios where they might.

For example, changing the title from manager to senior manager could be possible in some scenarios.

If you have made a final decision, please let me know that your decision is final so that the company can stop pursuing the offer. This will prevent any frustration.

Once you are clear on your decision and reason, you should let the company know as soon as possible in a conversation (in person, on the phone, or on a video call).

Communicating Your Rejection

A couple of points: It is tempting to reject the offer in an email, but it is better to do so in a conversation because your tone of voice and clarifications can help salvage and build the relationship.

Being specific about your reasons will be helpful to the other party and could lead to a negotiation if that is what you desire.

If you are interviewing for multiple roles, it is tempting to wait to respond, even if you know that the position is not what you want.

Of course, it is okay to wait for some time before answering. We recommend that you do it in a week. Companies will appreciate a timely response, especially if you reject the offer.


To recap, almost every person will need to reject a job offer at some point in their career.

Could you clarify why you will not accept the offer and whether your decision is final? A polite and professional conversation with the HR or hiring manager will ensure the bridge is not burned.

You always need to find out when and where your paths might cross.

Learn more about developing a winning résumé, building a solid network, and other insights on professional growth from our regular Career Tips series.