The Art of Politely Declining a Job Offer

by Sarah Steenrod, Director of Undergraduate Career Consultation & Programs

You’ve finally accepted a job offer – CONGRATULATIONS! It’s time to celebrate!

BUT…before you do so…Hold up!…Wait a minute!


Take some time to reach out to any employers you have received offers from or if you are choosing to remove yourself from a company’s candidate pool. It’s better to do this sooner rather than later, as it could help another candidate have an opportunity you are no longer interested in.

You might be saying to yourself, this all sounds good, but what is the best way to go about doing so? We thought you might ask, so we went ahead and pulled together some tips:

Pick up the phone. It is likely that a recruiter has gone out of their way to provide you with information and answer any questions you have had throughout the recruiting process. Show them the same respect and personalized approach by reaching out to have a conversation.

Be very appreciative. Declining an offer can be very intimidating to job seekers. Before cutting to the chase, it always helps to lead in to the conversation by showing your appreciation of their time and interest in you.

Avoid the one liner. Whether in an email or over the phone, nothing feels more like a “slap in the face” to a recruiter than when a student sends them a one line message declining the offer.

Be transparent. It can be very helpful for a recruiter to know why you decided to go with another company or opportunity. Students can either feel free to provide some information about their decision making process and why they chose the company they did or be prepared for questions about their decision. Recruiters often have to report back to their team when offers are declined and it can be helpful to have some context. Some factors may be out of their control, such as a geographic or industry preference, but other factors could be within their control, such as offering housing or relocation assistance.

Keep in touch. A company you decline today might be your target five years from now. It’s always good to keep in touch with people you met during the process. Chances are if they liked you well enough to want to hire you, they will have an interest in keeping in touch as professional colleagues.

Remember – It’s a Small World. Recruiters often change companies and they rarely forget when they’ve been burned. They’re human, right? You should be in good shape if you do the right thing, tell the truth, and always say thank you! Not only are you representing yourself, you are representing the Fisher College of Business and The Ohio State University. Feel free to reach out to the Office of Career Management and schedule an appointment if you would like to discuss anything more specific to your situation 292-6024.

Again, congratulations on accepting an employment offer!



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