Declining a Job Offer

Question:

Cheryl, I recently interviewed for a consulting position. Based on the company’s growth and projected hiring needs, I expect to be offered the job within the next day or two. However, this position requires more travel than I can handle right now, so unless they make me an offer I cannot refuse, I plan to decline. But, my personal situation will change in the next few months and I could then handle the frequency of travel this job demands. Is there a way I could decline this offer now, while still keeping my options open for later this year? I looked on the net for a sample of such a letter, but could not find one. Any ideas?

Answer:

Kathy, I searched in my favorite resources for a good sample of a decline job offer letter, but I couldn’t find one I could wholeheartedly recommend. So, instead, I’d like to offer you a template:

Paragraph #1

Thank the company for the offer and for the time/energy they have expended on your behalf throughout the hiring process.

  • Be specific – don’t just say thank you, but note what you found most helpful and professionally rewarding about their interviewing/hiring process.
  • Compliment their company. Offer positive comments about their staff, credentials, scope of business, and/or mission/vision/values. Again, be specific when you say nice things.
  • Paragraph #2

    • Regretfully decline the offer. Be gracious and courteous but direct. Language such as “I must regretfully decline” or “I am unable to accept” works well.
    • Do not say you have received a better offer. Rather, indicate a neutral reason for your decline.
    • In your case, something like this might work: I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept your employment offer at present. As you noted, this role will demand a fair amount of travel, and I am currently unable to accomodate much travel in my family life. With an opportunity to make suitable arrangements within the coming months, however, I believe I might be able to accomodate the degree of travel you require a little later this year. Thus, if it is agreeable to you, I would very much like to stay in touch with you in the event my situation changes in the coming months.

    Paragraph #3

    • Indicate what you most value about the company and the opportunity they extended to you.
    • What is it about them or the job that most interests you?

    As you can see, this is a simple and brief letter, with an emphasis on warmth and relationship management. Keep you content authentic and it will do the job for you!