How to decline a job offer due to the salary - the right way

By Robert Half on 13 August 2019

If you plan to decline a job offer due to the salary, then it can be tempting to just walk away or type out a speedy rejection email.

However, being unprofessional today could burn bridges for you tomorrow.

You don’t know what valuable contacts the hiring manager may have, which could help or hinder your chances of getting jobs elsewhere. You never know when you may come across the hiring manager again in the future too, such as at another business, or at an industry event.

The organisation that has made you an offer may also have other jobs in the future that they may be happy to put you forward for, if you stay on their good side.

3 key steps to decline a job offer due to the salary

If you don’t know how to decline your job offer correctly, follow these three simple, yet effective steps:

1. Don’t rush into your decision

When declining a job offer, give yourself enough time to think carefully about your decision. This will allow you to think through the pros and cons of declining it. You should also research what a competitive salary looks like for your role and industry, to help understand your true worth. The Robert Half Salary Guide can help with this. Remember that if you decline a job offer due to the salary, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to retract it if you change your mind later.

At the same time, don’t take too long to contemplate your decision. If you decline the job offer, the hiring company will likely revert to their second or third choices. The longer you take to come to your decision, the more chance there is that their next choices will be in line for the role.

2. Communicate your decision

Once you’ve made your final decision, contact the person who provided you with the job offer. There are a few things to consider:

Choose your medium

Decide how you will communicate your decision with the hiring manager. You may feel more comfortable sending an email, which is fine. Calling the hiring manager can be more personal and can help avoid any miscommunications, although, be prepared to call them back or leave a voicemail if they’re busy.

Show your appreciation

Thank them for their time and job offer. Make sure you are genuine, so they understand it’s been a difficult decision for you to make.

Be clear and concise

Explain briefly why you have decided to decline the job offer. Remember to be clear about your reasons, but you don’t need to go into too much detail. Be honest and don’t just make something up. They will appreciate your openness and honesty. If you’re calling, be prepared for the question, “is there anything we can do to help change your mind”, where they may want to follow up with a new and improved salary offer.

Remain positive and professional

Although you plan to decline the job offer due to the salary, don’t talk negatively about the company or the offer. Remain positive about the role and be professional at all times.

Write down what you’re going to say

If you decide to call rather than email, write down roughly what you plan to say, so you ensure you cover everything you need to, remain concise and feel more confident when talking.

Make your decision official

If you declined the job offer over the phone, follow up with a quick email afterwards, to put your decision in writing, making it official. This should cover most of the points from your call and should be concise and unambiguous. Make sure you carefully proofread anything you write, before pressing “send”. Email this to the person who you spoke to on the phone and anyone else who has been highly involved in the recruitment process.

3. Keep in touch

Where appropriate, stay in touch with the people you have dealt with during the recruitment process. You never know when you might bump into them again, what contacts they have and what opportunities they may be able to pass your way in the future.

Figuring out how to decline a job offer effectively can be tricky, but with the help of these tips, you’ll be well-equipped to turn down the job, whilst keeping doors open for future opportunities.

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