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How To Decline a Job Offer You Already Accepted [Tips + FAQs]

An employee thinking if he should decline a job offer he already accepted

You’ve received the job offer, but you’re no longer interested. What should you do if you accepted an offer but then changed your mind?

If you’re experiencing this situation — you’re not alone. In fact, a recent survey found that half of 3,500 respondents said that they accepted a job offer, but then backed out.

In this article, we’ll share tips on how to decline a job offer you already accepted. We’ll also list the top reasons for declining a job offer and answer frequently asked questions surrounding this complex scenario.

Common Reasons for Declining a Job Offer After Accepting It

After thinking it through, you might realize the job isn’t as great as you first thought it would be. Here are different reasons for declining a job offer you already accepted:

  • Better offer in a different company: You might have received a more appealing job offer from another company after accepting the first offer. This can include a better salary or work setup.
  • Change in personal circumstances: You might be experiencing unforeseen issues, such as health problems or relocation challenges. This can make the job offer you accepted impractical.
  • Policy changes: For example, you have accepted the offer with a flexible work schedule. However, the employer changed their policy and now requires you to work on a fixed schedule.
  • Misleading information: You discovered that the employer provided inaccurate information about the job or company during the interview process. For instance, there were false promises about job responsibilities or there was miscommunication on the probation period.
  • Negotiation failures: There might be negotiations on specific terms of employment like salary, benefits or work schedule that failed to meet your expectations. Alternatively, there is no room for negotiations at all.
  • Work environment concerns: After accepting the role, you might have discovered issues within the company, such as a toxic work environment or financial instability.
  • Professional reasons: You had a change in your professional goals or you realized that the job does not align with your career path.
  • Ethical or moral reasons: Discovering that the company’s values or practices conflict with your ethical or moral beliefs can be a reason to decline an offer you already accepted.

5 Tips on How to Decline a Job Offer You Already Accepted

While you can decline the offer you already accepted, it is still an uncomfortable situation that should be approached with careful consideration.

Here are tips you can utilize to handle this situation with professionalism and grace:

1. Choose the Right Type of Communication

It is often better to have a conversation on the phone first to let the hiring manager know about your decision.

Then, send an email to formalize the conversation and explain why you have decided not to take on the role.

This can help ensure clear communication and show respect for the hiring manager’s time.

2. Check Your Contract

If you have already signed a job offer, carefully review your contract to understand any legal implications.

Pay attention to terms regarding notice periods, confidentiality or clauses that specify penalties for backing out after accepting the offer.

However, keep in mind that a job offer letter is not legally binding, as it is only an invitation for a prospective employee to work at a company.

This type of letter outlines the terms of employment, such as position, salary and start date, but it leaves the details to be finalized in an employment contract.

Ultimately, you will only be legally bonded when you sign an employment contract.

Infographic saying a job offer letter is not legally binding

3. Decline the Job Offer Right Away

Inform the employer as soon as you have decided to decline the job offer you already accepted.

Prompt communication is key to maintaining professionalism and allows the employer to move forward with other candidates.

4. Use a Straightforward Yet Tactful Approach

Declining a role you already accepted requires a tactful, professional approach.

Be clear that you are declining the offer. Explain that, upon further reflection, you have realized that the position does not align with your career goals or personal situation.

Give a brief reason for your decision, especially if it relates to the job itself, like changes in work conditions or relocation requirements.

If the reasons are personal, mention that due to unforeseen circumstances, you are unable to proceed with the employment.

Avoid unnecessary details, such as unrelated personal issues, to maintain a professional and respectful tone in your communication.

Make it clear that your decision is based on careful consideration. This can help show respect for the time and the opportunity the employer offered.

5. End Your Message By Showing Gratitude

Make sure to thank the employer for the opportunity, and acknowledge the time and effort they invested in the hiring process.

Apologize for the inconvenience but keep it short. While it’s important to be sincere, it’s best to avoid overdoing your apology.

Conclude your message by wishing the company success and expressing your hope to cross paths in the future. This will help keep the door open for future opportunities and maintain a professional relationship.

How to decline a job offer you already accepted

Email Examples of How to Decline a Job Offer You Already Accepted

To help you decline a job offer you already accepted, we’ve created three email templates.

These templates are tailored for various situations, making it easy for you to clearly yet tactfully communicate your decision.

Email Example 1: Declining Due to a Better Offer

This template offers guidance on how to politely decline a job offer when you have received a more favorable offer elsewhere.

Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name],

I am writing to you regarding the job offer for the [Position Title] role at [Company Name] which I accepted on [Date of Acceptance].

After long and careful consideration, I regret to inform you that I must rescind my acceptance. I have recently been offered a position at another company that aligns more closely with my long-term career goals and personal circumstances.

Please understand this was an incredibly difficult decision to make.

I want to express my deepest gratitude for the time and resources the [Company Name] team has invested in my application. That said, I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you and the team.

It is my sincere hope that my decision will not prevent future professional interactions between us. I hold [Company Name] in high regard and would welcome the chance to cross paths in a different capacity in the future.

Thank you once again for this opportunity and for your understanding.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Here is how your email should look like:

Email template for declining a job offer due to a better offer

Email Example 2: Declining Due to Personal Circumstances

This example outlines how to respectfully decline a job offer due to personal reasons, such as health issues or a family emergency, that require you to reprioritize.

Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name],

I must inform you that due to unforeseen personal circumstances, I am no longer able to proceed with the employment offer, which I accepted on [Date of Acceptance].

This was unexpected, and after giving it some thought, I have decided that it would not be feasible for me to commit to the role at this time.

I am grateful for the offer and the warm welcome I received during the interview process. Please accept my sincerest apologies for any inconvenience or disruption this may cause to your team and the recruitment process.

Rest assured I would be open to exploring opportunities with [Company Name] in the future, should my circumstances change.

In addition, I’m willing to stay in touch and offer any assistance that might be helpful to your team.

Once again, thank you for your understanding and the opportunity. I wish the entire [Company Name] team continued success.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Here is how your email should look like:

Email template for declining a job offer due to personal reasons

Email Example 3: Declining With a General Reason

This template is designed for situations where you need to turn down a job offer without providing specific details about your reasons.

Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name],

I hope this message finds you well. I am writing to you regarding the [Job Title] position that I recently accepted.

After careful consideration, I will no longer be proceeding with the employment.

I want to emphasize my gratitude for the opportunity and for the time and effort you and your team invested in me throughout the hiring process.

That said, I would like to express my sincerest apologies for any inconvenience this may cause. Please understand that this decision is not a reflection of the company or the role, both of which I hold in high regard.

Thank you once again for this opportunity. I hope that our paths may cross again under different circumstances in the future.

Wishing you and the company continued success.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Here is how your email should look like:

Email template for declining a job offer with a general reason

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Declining a job offer you already accepted is not a walk in the park. It’s a decision that can have significant implications on your career path and professional relationships.

But with the proper approach, you can navigate this challenging situation to help minimize potential negative impacts and maintain your professional integrity.

OysterLink is committed to equipping you with the essential resources needed to help you make well-informed choices when considering new job opportunities.

OysterLink offers a comprehensive base of career guidance, encompassing how to write a CV, how to negotiate your salary and insights into the skills to highlight on your resume.

FAQs About Declining a Job Offer You Already Accepted

Still have questions about declining a job offer you already accepted? Find the answers below.

1. Is it rude to decline a job offer you already accepted?

No, declining a job offer you already accepted is not rude. However, it can be an uncomfortable experience, as changing your mind at the last minute will not be good news for the employer.

2. Would declining a job offer I already accepted negatively impact future job opportunities?

Understand that declining a role you already accepted can impact your future opportunities with the employer. However, using a direct yet tactful approach and declining the role right away might help reduce any negative impact.

3. What happens when you decline a job offer you already accepted?

After declining a job offer you’ve already accepted, the employer may respond to your email or answer your phone call, often seeking clarification or expressing disappointment.

They might also ask about your reasons for declining to possibly address any concerns.

4. Can I decline a job offer without experiencing any legal consequences?

If you’ve signed an employment contract, review the agreement and check if there are any legal consequences for turning down the job.

For example, some contracts specify a time frame for rejecting the offer.

5. Can I apply to the same company in the future if I decline their offer?

Yes, you can apply to the same company in the future. If you decline the offer respectfully and professionally, most employers will understand that circumstances can change.

6. How do I handle the situation if I received a better offer?

If you’ve received a better offer, communicate your decision to decline the initial offer as soon as possible.

While you can mention that you’ve received another offer that aligns more closely with your career goals, you are not obliged to — especially if it makes you uncomfortable.

7. Should I help find a replacement?

While it’s not expected or required, helping the company look for a replacement can help maintain a positive relationship with the employer.

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