How do you decline a job offer without closing the door example?

Declining a job offer can be a difficult decision, especially if it’s an opportunity you were excited about. However, turning down an offer doesn’t have to close the door completely. With care and professionalism, you can decline an offer now while still leaving room for potential opportunities down the road.

Why might you decline a job offer?

There are several common reasons why someone might choose to turn down a job offer, even one that initially seemed promising:

  • You received a better offer from another company
  • The compensation or benefits package wasn’t up to your standards
  • You had concerns about the work environment or company culture
  • The role or responsibilities weren’t the right fit
  • You decided the location or commute wasn’t ideal
  • You want to pursue other opportunities or feel it’s not the right move for your career

None of these reasons necessarily close the door to ever working with that employer. Even if the specifics of the initial offer weren’t right, things could align better in the future.

How to professionally decline a job offer

When declining an offer, it’s important to do so with courtesy, honesty, and professionalism. This helps maintain a positive relationship with the employer. Here are some tips:

  • Thank the employer for considering you and express appreciation for the offer.
  • Explain the reason(s) you are declining the offer, keeping things positive.
  • Provide a reason even if asked to reconsider, but say you will keep the door open.
  • Leave feedback about what would have made the offer more appealing.
  • Express regret if the role or company was of interest to you.
  • Notify them promptly so they can move forward with other candidates.
  • Follow up any conversation with an email confirming your decision.

Being transparent and constructive can help the employer understand your position. But take care not to criticize them or burn bridges.

Sample email to decline a job offer

Here is an example email to politely and professionally decline a job offer while keeping the door open:

Dear [name],

I wanted to let you know that after careful consideration, I have decided not to move forward with the [position] role at [company]. I truly appreciate you taking the time to interview me and extend an offer.

After assessing the opportunity as a whole, I realized the commute would be quite difficult from my current location. While I’m disappointed I won’t be joining [company] at this time, I remain enthusiastic about the work your team is doing.

Please feel free to keep me in mind for any other relevant opportunities that may arise in the future. I had such a positive experience learning about [company] throughout the interview process.

Thank you again for the offer and consideration. I wish you and your team the very best.

[Your name]

This email clearly communicates the reason for declining while remaining positive. It also leaves room for future opportunities with that employer.

Tips for gracefully declining a job offer

Here are some additional tips for declining a job offer with care and consideration:

  • Have a conversation in person or over the phone if possible, rather than only email.
  • Keep your reason vague if it relates to salary, workplace culture, or other sensitive topics.
  • Avoid disparaging the role, company, or person you interacted with.
  • Express that you know the decision is right for you at this time.
  • Suggest the company stays in touch for the future if interested.
  • Recommend someone else you think could be a great fit if possible.
  • Wait to post publicly about declining an offer until after you’ve notified the employer.

Being thoughtful in how you communicate your decision can go a long way. It keeps the relationship positive on both sides.

Can you ask for time to consider the offer?

Yes, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for more time to consider a job offer before officially accepting or declining. A few days or a week is generally reasonable. This allows you to:

  • Carefully weigh the offer details and ensure it aligns with your career goals.
  • Discuss the decision with family or trusted mentors.
  • Consider other offers you may be awaiting.
  • Request any clarification about the terms of the offer.
  • Determine if there is flexibility in areas like salary or start date.

Simply respond that you appreciate the offer and would like [x amount of time] to further discuss the opportunity before making a final decision. Most employers will understand and grant additional time.

What to do if the company won’t let you think about it

In some cases, an employer may require an immediate decision from candidates and won’t grant additional time. Reasons could include:

  • They have another strong candidate ready to accept.
  • They need to fill the position urgently.
  • Company policy requires immediate acceptance/rejection.

If this occurs:

  • Ask if there is any flexibility on the timeline.
  • Inquire about specifics you need to make a decision.
  • Ask when they need a final response.
  • Trust your instinct if you feel pressured into accepting.
  • Decline if you aren’t comfortable accepting on the spot.

While not ideal, declining under this circumstance is understandable. The right employer match is worth waiting for.

Is it OK to accept then later decline an offer?

Ideally, you should only accept an offer when you are fully committed to that employer. However, circumstances sometimes change.

It’s generally fine to decline after initially accepting if:

  • You notify them very soon after accepting with an explanation.
  • No major decisions have been made yet like rejecting other offers.
  • You haven’t already started formal paperwork or background checks.
  • You express appreciation for the opportunity and apologize.

However, declining late in the process could damage your reputation with that employer. Weigh this carefully before accepting an offer if you’re still exploring other options. Communicate openly with the employer about your timeline and considerations.

Will declining ruin your chances in the future?

Not necessarily. Declining a job offer won’t automatically exclude you from working for that employer down the road. Here are situations where you could still have future opportunities:

  • You declined for a reasonable, positive reason – Explain that while the timing/fit wasn’t right now, you remain interested.
  • You declined professionally – A courteous, constructive rejection note keeps the relationship intact.
  • Your circumstances changed – What didn’t align before may work at another point in your career.
  • The role evolves – A different position could become available that’s a better match.
  • The hiring manager changes – A new decision maker may not hold past declined offers against you.

Do avoid: rescinding acceptance late in the process, disparaging the company in your rejection, cutting off contact completely.

Is it OK to ask for feedback if you decline?

It’s reasonable and beneficial to ask for feedback after declining an offer, as it can provide valuable insights. However, carefully consider how you frame this request.

DO ask:

  • If there were any reservations related to your background or interview performance. This allows you to improve for future opportunities.
  • For suggestions of other roles or departments that may be a better fit based on your skills and interests.
  • To stay connected on LinkedIn or schedule a feedback call in a few weeks/months.

AVOID asking:

  • In a way that seems argumentative or confrontational.
  • About details like salary/benefits, unless necessary to explain your reasoning.
  • In a way that pressures the employer to reconsider or justify their decision.

With a thoughtful approach, requesting feedback can strengthen your candidacy for future positions. But be mindful not to cross professional boundaries.

Sample scripts for asking for feedback

Here are some sample scripts for politely asking for feedback after declining a job offer:

Email request:

I wanted to thank you again for the [position] offer at [company]. Although I’ve declined at this time, I remains very interested in opportunities with your team. I would greatly appreciate any feedback you may have on my candidacy. Please let me know if there is anything you’d suggest I focus on to improve as an applicant for future roles.

Phone request:

Hi [name], thanks for taking the time to speak with me. I know I’ve declined the [position] offer, but your team and mission remain of interest. Would you mind providing any constructive feedback based on my interview process? I want to make sure I’m putting my best foot forward for other roles in the future.

In-person request:

I wanted to follow up on my decision to decline the offer and see if you had any feedback based on my application. I really appreciate the consideration for this opportunity and want to make sure I’m presenting myself as strongly as possible for any future openings here. Please let me know if you have any suggestions!

The key is to ask politely and emphasize continuing interest in the employer. This makes them more receptive to sharing useful insights.


Declining a job offer is often a difficult decision, but doesn’t have to close the door with that employer forever. By being professional and constructive in your communication, you can preserve the relationship for future opportunities. Focus on expressing appreciation, explaining your reasoning clearly, asking for feedback, and keeping things positive. With care and honesty, it’s possible to say no to an offer today but yes down the road.

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