Declining a job offer is part of the job search process. But how can you ensure you do so professionally, and respectfully? Here are some tips.

Be Timely

Unless you are looking to weigh your options, or are waiting for another job offer before deciding whether you want to accept a position, you should be timely with your response. Informing the company as soon as possible, and upfront that you are not accepting the position is not only professional but courteous and conscious of their time. If you’re hesitant to decline because you feel negative or guilty about saying no, remember being honest and direct is always better than letting the process linger and making a company wait.

Demonstrate your Gratitude

When you do decline the offer, start first by sharing your gratitude for their time. From reading your resume, interviewing, offering you the position, and anything else that may have caught your attention. If possible, focus on a specific instance that occurred that you could thank them for, so they know that you’re sincere as well.

Clarify Your Reasoning

Next, explain and clarify the reason you are choosing to decline the position. Do not share that you have a better salary offer elsewhere. Do not apologize for declining a position. It is not necessary to apologize for your choice that is the best fit for you and your family. Do express that you have decided to take another position that is a better fit. However, if you don’t have another job offer and are still not interested in pursuing the position, you can say something like, “after careful consideration” or “after much thought” and express you’ve decided the role isn’t the right fit for you at this stage of your career. This is a polite and honest way of explaining your reasoning.

Be Clear That You Are Declining (If You’re Certain)

When you are declining a job offer, make it clear that you are not accepting the position. Try to avoid a response that may be misinterpreted. For some templates on how to decline a job offer via email, click here.

Suggest Keeping in Contact

Leave the conversation open-ended by suggesting keeping in contact (if desired). Then, finalize the conversation by saying something like “It has been a pleasure getting to know you, I wish you all the best” or ” Thank you for your help and I hope to cross paths in the future”. Something to close on a light and positive note will go a long way.