How to Turn Down Other Companies When You've Accepted a Job Offer

Multiple job offers is a "good problem" - 4 steps how to tactfully turn down offers

If you’re in the fortunate position of having at least one, if not multiple, job offers, congrats! Getting to the offer stage rarely comes easily, so you should first take a moment to appreciate yourself for all of the effort that’s gone into getting you here. But what to do if you have multiple job offers? How do you tactfully communicate your decision to the ones you're declining?

Once you’ve finished celebrating, however, it’s important to first close the loop with any other companies you’ve interviewed with. This is partly out of respect, but also to leave a good impression.

Avoid burning bridges here because you never know who knows whom and when people will reappear in your network. This article will walk through some tips for keeping this messaging concise and effective. 

1. Make it timely

To begin with, email or call the other companies you’re interviewing with as soon as possible after accepting your offer. The longer your candidacy stays active, the longer the other companies will be negatively impacted when you ultimately turn them down (and the more of their time you’ll waste). So it’s courteous to remove yourself from the running in a timely manner. 

2. Be direct, but express gratitude

Beating around the bush won’t help anyone in this situation, so be honest about explaining the decision you’ve made and that you won’t be proceeding in their process.

Even if you’ve had a frustrating experience with a company, there’s no use in overindulging in negativity—particularly once you’ve accepted another offer

In addition, show gratitude to everyone who’s been involved in your interview process. The recruiter, hiring manager, and anyone else you’ve met with collectively spent hours on your application, so be sure to thank your point of contact for the time spent.

You can also highlight any specific things you liked about the role, company, or team to make the point you’re not just sending a generic email to every company you’ve interviewed with. 

3. Briefly explain your reasoning

It can be helpful feedback for the team to know why you’ve accepted an offer, so help them out by providing a short statement summarizing your thinking. This might be something like:

  • There's a compensation package you can’t turn down
  • You’ve found a role more in line with your career goals because it involves more (fill in the blank) than the role in question
  • The company you chose is smaller/larger/in a different industry and is a better fit for your background/career goals
  • You’ve taken a role with a company that has a more flexible work from home policy (or shorter commute, etc.)—particularly if you have a family or other reasons it would benefit you to be closer to or work from home.

While a brief statement should suffice, use your judgement to decide whether it’s worth elaborating further. If you’ve spent a lot of time with the team, or you came through a personal referral, you may feel it’s appropriate to provide more details about your decision.

If you do elaborate, do so because it helps the hiring team in some way (perhaps they’re not offering enough salary or they’re positioning the role in an unappealing way). Don't do it because you feel guilty for going with a different offer.

4. Maintain the relationship

The job market is a small world, regardless of your location or industry, so finish off your email or phone call with a mention of staying in touch in the future. Keep it open-ended and positive, which might look something like:

  • One last thanks for their time
  • That you hope to stay in touch as you really enjoyed meeting them
  • That you look forward to seeing how the company grows
  • You're happy to refer anyone in your network to them.

Again, it’s fine to keep this short and sweet, but don’t overlook the importance of a nice sign-off: You never know who you might work with in the future. So even though they may be disappointed you declined, you’ll want to leave a lasting positive impression. 

If you have to turn down other offers, it's best to follow these tips

Keep it professional, concise, and positive, and you can't go wrong. These four tips will help you navigate this "good problem," and leave the door open for communication should anything change.

One way to stay in touch with the declined companies is to share the job posting with your network. Introduce a person from your network open to work to the recruiter. If you see an article or news item relevant to something you discussed with the hiring manager, feel free to forward it to them with a short note.

Remember, networking is most effective when you help others without asking for something in return. Good luck with your new role!

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Revised Nov. 30, 2021

About the Author

Napala Pratini

Napala is a consultant to early-stage technology companies. Prior to going independent, Napala led marketing initiatives across both consumer and B2B fintech for employers including NerdWallet and Earnest. In past lives she was a ballet dancer and a cancer researcher.