How to Say No To An Executive Job Offer And Still Keep the Door Open (+Sample Letter)

How to Say No To An Executive Job Offer And Still Keep the Door Open (+Sample Letter) was originally published on Ivy Exec.

How to Say No to an Executive Job Offer and Still Keep the Door Open (+Sample Letter)

You definitely need tact and skill to decline an executive job offer if you wish to avoid stepping on toes or closing the door on future opportunities. There are some common mistakes people make when declining job offers. These mistakes lead to burned bridges and make it much harder for them to find a job the next time they are in the market for one.

In this article, we will discuss the common reasons why people turn down job offers. We’ll show you how to turn down a job offer politely. Sample letters of rejection are also included later in the article.

Reasons you may want to decline an executive job offer

Before we look at how to decline a job offer, there are several reasons why you may want to turn down an executive job offer. Some common reasons to decline a job offer include:

  • Salary: This is the major reason why most people decline job offers. It’s understandable since this is also the primary reason most people are looking for a job in the first place. A salary that is below market rates is a perfectly acceptable reason to turn down a job offer. For a reasonable estimate of your salary, you should ask your friends who work in the same field.
  • Time: The timing of the job offer is another major factor. Even if the salary is attractive, some people will decline a job offer that comes at an inopportune time.
  • Other Offers: You might have also accepted a better, more convenient offer that arrived while you were waiting for the offer. This is a reasonable reason to turn down the job offer. Although, there are times when you may want to choose a lesser role at a bigger company over a major role at a small organization.
  • The Job Description: If the job description is totally different from what you were expecting, you may want to decline that job offer especially if the responsibilities require qualifications you don’t possess.
  • Contract Terms: A lot of people decline job offers if the terms of employment such as work hours, perks, benefits, insurance, termination, etc., are undesirable or unacceptable.
  • The Company Culture: The company culture is the sum total of shared values and behaviors in a workplace. Since you are likely to be clocking many hours at the organization, you will probably need to fit in with the company culture there. There’s no reason to accept a job offer from a company you won’t enjoy working at.
  • Location: It is wise to think about how far the office is from your home. If you can’t stand the commute during the interview period, chances are you won’t enjoy working there much. But then again, you might become used to the commute over time and even find gainful activity to engage in during that period. 

Is it unprofessional to decline a job offer?

No. While there are certainly right and wrong ways to decline a job offer, turning down a job offer without burning bridges is very professional. It is in fact recommended if the job does not align with your goals and interests. However, you should be wary of accepting a job offer only to reject it later. This could put you in the hiring manager’s bad books.

Also, there are times when it might be easier to work something else out than to decline an executive job offer. Before presenting your decision to the hiring manager to turn down their job offer, you should be absolutely certain that you want to. You most likely won’t get a chance to walk back on that decision if you change your mind.   

How to turn down an executive job offer without burning bridges

The following are some tips on how to turn down an executive job offer without burning bridges:

How to turn down an executive job offer without burning bridges

1. Choose the right medium

You should send your response to the job offer through the right medium. It’s a general rule of thumb to use the same medium through which the job offer was sent in this situation. 

If the job offer was made to you through a phone call, you should probably call them back to decline the offer. If they sent you an email, then you can definitely respond back via email. 

You should factor in your personal convenience and the specific circumstances surrounding the job. If you’re certain you’ll only be able to deliver a composed response through a written message, you should go for that instead. And in some cases, the company might specifically ask you to send an email so that they can have something down on file.

That said, a call might be better in some circumstances but an email should suffice if you can’t call.

2. Show appreciation for the offer

You should express your gratitude to the hiring manager. It is likely that the hiring manager spent many hours assessing your qualifications and conducting interviews. He or she may also have spoken positively about you to other members of the team.

If you show that you’re sincerely appreciative of the time and resources they’ve invested into making the position available for you, you’ll be keeping the door open for future opportunities. Regardless of how you frame your rejection letter, make sure you begin with a statement of sincere appreciation. 

For instance, you could express gratitude by saying:

  • “Thank you for the opportunity to work at [xyz]”
  • “Thank you for considering me for the position of [Job Title] at [xyz]”
  • “I am grateful for the opportunity to learn about [xyz] and the wonderful people who work there.”
  • “Thank you for taking the time to consider my application.”

Explain your reasons for turning down the offer (connect it with your career goals)

Regardless of what your exact reasons are, it is important to be as straightforward as possible to prevent any misunderstandings. 

First, you need to make it clear that you’re declining the job offer. It wouldn’t do you any good to send a message that leaves the hiring manager confused about your intentions. Keep it polite but unambiguous. 

Next, you should explain your reasons for turning down the offer. It’s not necessary to go into detail. Instead, give a brief and honest answer as to why you are unable to accept the job position. The hiring manager might appreciate this and see it as a chance for improvement. 

You can also include the things you actually like about the company. The same rule applies. Be as honest and brief as possible. 

In the case where the offer is completely awful and you can’t find anything positive to say about it, you can leave that part out. You can also tell the manager that the position is not currently a right fit for you.

As an example, you could say something like, 

  • “Thanks for the consideration for the job position, but after much thought, I’ve decided that it is not the right fit for me at the moment.”
  • “I’ve considered moving to Washington, and I’ve decided it’s not the most practical option currently.”
  • “I’ve considered the compensation package included in the offer but I’ve concluded that the salary does not meet my financial requirements at this time.”

Whatever reason you would like to add, as long as it is not insulting or derogatory. In some cases, the company might actually decide to work something out with you and adjust some of the job terms. 

3. Offer to provide a recommendation

If you can, recommend someone to fill the position you’re declining. If you happen to know someone who’s in the market for such an offer, you can refer them to the hiring manager. 

Chances are, they may not end up choosing that person. However, you will have shown that you’re interested in the success of the company and your goals just didn’t align with theirs this time. 

You’ll probably not have someone else to refer to for every job offer you decline but when you do, be sure to recommend them to the employee. However, you should be certain that the person you recommend is both qualified for and interested in the job position. Otherwise, the hiring manager might end up with another job rejection on their hands.

For example, you could include a statement similar to “In case you are still looking to fill this position, I do know someone who could be a good fit and I would be happy to provide their contact information”.

4. Maintain contact

If you’ve established a prior connection with the hiring manager, you can reference that while closing off and mention that you’d like to maintain contact with them. You can offer to stay connected on LinkedIn and perhaps send them an invitation on the platform. You can also provide your contact information and offer to contact them at a later time. This will help you build your professional network and will likely leave the door open for future opportunities. 

For example, you could say, “I enjoyed meeting you and everyone else at [xyz]. I would like to keep my options open about working at [xyz] in the future. Would it be okay if we connected on LinkedIn?”

Sample job offer rejection letter

A written job rejection letter is better since it allows you to be concise and direct when delivering your message. Here are some examples of how to decline a job offer due to different reasons:

  • Sample job offer rejection letter due to personal reasons

Dear [name],

Thank you for the offer to work in [company] as [position]. I was delighted to meet you and the team last week. 

After considering the offer carefully, I have decided to decline, as the job position isn’t a fit with my current career goals, and aspirations. [You can talk more about them]

I want to express my sincere gratitude for the chance to learn about the job position, the organization and the wonderful people who work there.

I wish you success in your search for the right candidate for the role. I’d love to be considered if a role that aligns with my goals becomes available. I look forward to hearing from you in the future. 

Best wishes,

[Your Name] 

  • Sample job offer rejection letter if you’ve gotten a better offer

Hi [Name], 

Thank you for your offer to work for [company] as a [position]. After careful consideration, I’ve made the decision to accept another offer for a position that is more in line with my current career goals and personal aspirations. This position offers [reasons such as pay, perks, work flexibility, etc].

I have enjoyed learning about the wonderful work you do at [company]. Thanks for considering my application and best wishes in your search for the most suitable candidate.

I look forward to hearing from you in the future. I’m also available to answer any questions you might have.

Best regards,

[Your Name]


A job offer rejection isn’t going to be entirely pleasant for all parties involved. That said, there are certainly ways to smooth out the kinks and handle the entire process gracefully and professionally. This will help make sure that it all works out in the end. 

In this article, you’ve seen how to reject a job offer politely. It’s up to you to decide what you want for your career and financial future. You should consider your personal values and aspirations as well as your needs and responsibilities throughout the job search process. You should choose for yourself first and be proud of the choices you’ve made.


By Ivy Exec
Ivy Exec is your dedicated career development resource.