It’s Okay to Say No: Declining a Job Offer

Posted by Ashley Jones

To accept, or not to accept, that is the question. There’s much to consider when it comes to job offers, similar to other significant decisions we make in life. We often wade through various relationships waiting to find the right one to ultimately commit to. Or we search through countless properties until we find a home in which we can see a future. So why settle for a cleared job that’s not the right fit? In a world where most of our waking hours are spent on the job, do yourself a favor and consider all the factors when evaluating your offers.

The end goal in any job search is getting an offer and starting your new position. But what if you don’t want the job that’s been offered or you have more than one to consider? This is the time to use your research skills and evaluate carefully. Here are a few things to contemplate once you’ve been offered a job and tips to help you decline with grace and professionalism when necessary.

Company Reputation

Before you interviewed, you researched the company and the individuals you met with. Now it’s time to dig a little deeper and get a full understanding of the company’s reputation and standing in the community. What do people have to say about the company’s key leadership and how is their employee turnover rate?

Your network can greatly aid your efforts and help you fill in the blanks. Perhaps there are rumors of a merger or they’re about to lose a major contract. These all play a part in understanding the future of the company and the longevity of your employment with them. This might not be the best job to accept if the company is in turmoil or poor financial standing.

Culture Fit

Culture plays a big role in how well you’ll thrive. You won’t find much satisfaction in your new role if the work environment is not compatible with your work style. Perhaps you need a flexible schedule but the job requires stringent hours. Or you need order and stability but they lack organization and established practices. Is this the right company for you to succeed in? You know how you work best. The environment you surround yourself in should support that, not hinder you.

Career Advancement

Many cleared job seekers look for jobs similar to what they currently have or a position that is one level higher. While you may need more experience before climbing the ladder further, will this job help you grow and reach your goals? Talk to the hiring manager to find out if there are opportunities to grow and move forward in the company. You’re not asking for an immediate promotion, but trying to understand the possibilities that the future hold. If there is limited potential for advancement and career growth is important to you, it may not be the right fit.


Determine what’s important to you and consider how the salary and benefits offered form your total compensation. In order to get your full value from a cleared employer, you’ll often need to negotiate. But this is not always doable to the extent you need. Is the offer within the range you’re looking for? If you want to change a lot of the offer or the salary is not even close to what you need, don’t waste time trying to negotiate numbers that are miles apart. Ask yourself if is this is really a good match.

Contingency Offers

It’s okay to accept contingency offers, but don’t accept more than one on the same contract. While you might be very interested in the position, keep your job search going while you wait for further notice. And don’t accept a contingency offer simply because it’s not binding. Don’t waste time and paperwork unless you have a true interest.

Guidelines for Saying No

If you come to the decision that the job is not the right fit, it’s okay to say no and decline the offer. While many people decline offers via email, give the hiring manager a call if you can reach them. Follow these tips to decline professionally.

  • Be timely. It can be awkward declining an offer once an employer has invested in you, but don’t put it off due to discomfort. You can ask for 24 hours to make a decision once they’ve made an offer. Whether you are accepting or declining, give them the courtesy of sharing your decision in a timely manner so all parties can move forward.
  • Say thank you. Be gracious and thank them for their time. You can decline an offer without burning bridges by communicating your appreciation for the consideration you have been shown. No apologies are necessary. Simply be considerate and give a heartfelt thanks.
  • Give a reason. Be honest but tactful when you share your decision to decline their offer. You never want to be insulting or say something rude—even if that’s your true motive for saying no. You might explain simply that the job is not the right fit or you’re accepting another offer.

Though it can be difficult turning down a job, it will serve you best in the long run not to settle. Consider the goals of the company and how they match yours. Does the job you are considering truly support them? You might consider taking a job you don’t really want, in the hopes of finding something better soon after. However, job search requires a lot of attention that you may no longer have the time to give if you accept the first offer that comes your way. And hopping from job to job without good reason can serve as a red flag to companies you pursue in the future. So don’t just accept anything. If you have concerns about the job in question, ask the employer or hiring manager about them. If they take issue in addressing them, that’s a good indicator that it’s not the right fit for you and it’s time to move forward with your hunt.


  • Ashley Jones

    Ashley Jones is ClearedJobs.Net's blog Editor and a cleared job search expert, dedicated to helping security-cleared job seekers and employers navigate job search and recruitment challenges. With in-depth experience assisting cleared job seekers and transitioning military personnel at in-person and virtual Cleared Job Fairs and military base hiring events, Ashley has a deep understanding of the unique needs of the cleared community. She is also the Editor of ClearedJobs.Net's job search podcast, Security Cleared Jobs: Who's Hiring & How.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2019 5:36 pm

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