Licensee Badge
Submitted by wroschek on


Is there any advice on a professional way to turn down an offer after I have accepted it?

I accepted an offer and have not yest started my new position. Since the acceptance, I have received another offer that meets many more criteria for my desired growth and professional advancement: greater responsibility, better fit personally (with people, reputation, and vision), does not require a relocation for my family, etc.

Is it as simple as "I have accepted another offer and am calling to decline your offer"?

This is the first time I've been in this situation and I'm grateful for any help/recommendations that the MT/CT community has to offer

Thank you,



mark_odell's picture

Not great, at least you are doing it now and not after you started though.

Main point is be quick.  They are currently planning what you will do when you start and will need to sort out a replacement.  The sooner you do it the better.

As for the actual words, I don't suppose it matters that much, they aren't going to change the facts.  Just be polite and apologetic.


Chief Executive, Connect Support Services Ltd. - London based cloud & traditional IT services for SMEs -

wendii's picture
Admin Role Badge

There is no professional way to do this, because a professional wouldn't do it.

Therefore, we have no recommendations, since we don't recommend you do it.


wendybruce's picture

 I had been looking for over 2 years - a professional colleague I'd known for 15 years offered me a very nice position, close to home, well-within my capabilities, fairly compensated.  I accepted verbally then came the offer from a former client, they had created a position just for me, willing to do whatever it took to get me.  Slightly more $ but a lot more commuting.  For me it came down to which one was I just "doing my job" and which one was an exciting, learning, growth opportunity.  I'm late in my career and surprisingly opted for excitement.

I called the first offeror and explained "it's like I'm planning to marry the boy next door, he is perfect for me, and I know we will have a long and happy life together, but my heart belongs to the bad boy down the street with the motorcycle".  She told me she'd take the motorcycle ride too, but if I ever fell off, she'd like to talk to me.  16 months later she reached out to me next time she had an opening, and so my advice is - be sincere, be prompt, be gracious you may be saying no now, but there's no need to bolt the door.

I'm in HR and if a candidate turns me down post-offer, I find it incredibly valuable to know why - perhaps there was something to learn about our hiring process, our comp package - or perhaps there were more insightful questions we could have asked in the interview.  Turn it into a learning session and hope to offer something of value - if they ask for it.



Jenninmi's picture
Training Badge


I second Wendii's response.

Is there a "professional" way for the second company to tell you, after you have accepted and resigned from your current job, that they found someone better "so never mind and good luck with the rest of your life?"




Doris_O's picture

What Wendii said.

From the perspective of a hiring manager who had 3 college students do this recently: if you accept an offer and then tell me that you are taking a position elsewhere, you have eliminated yourself from consideration for any positions I have in the future. I simply can't take the risk of hiring someone who has proven to be unreliable.

In the case of the college students I had hired, I get it. They are young. They are still learning what it means to be professional. It's unfortunate, because I hire college students and alums quite often.

dan west's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

This is wrong on a lot of levels.

First, you are breaking your word. This has the potential to follow you for the rest of your career. As one manager mentioned above, you will not be considered for any position with her ever again. That's not just the company she is at now, that's every company moving forward.

Second, it's unethical. If you expect a company to treat you well, why would you do this to the company? 

If you have to do it over again, I recommend that once you accept a job offer, stop interviewing everywhere else. What you just did is the equivalent to dating when you're already engaged.




ms321's picture

So this has just come up for me. I got the offer you can't refuse kind of offer a week after my other . The one that sets you up for the next step in your career. I've talked to my network and everyone balked at me being ethically torn.  

The MT line is clear and I see several supporting statements made above.  I think the "good luck with the rest of your life" is the harshest.

There's some extenuating circumstances. One has a much more expansive role.  Second, the company I accepted the offer had already hired someone over me that didn't work out. Post offer / Acceptance I've got a better understanding of why and have serious concerns I would be walking into a weak organization versus a very strong one.  Lastly, there's a 30% difference in compensation.

Does the ethical line disappear when all things are not equal and the situation begins to change? 



ProcReg's picture

This is not a good situation to be in. There's not a professional way to do it.

That being said, my job search/interviewers have taught me one thing: Professionalism in the workplace is dead. :( I want to be a professional, but the bar has been set so low, the example I have is so bad, that at some point, you need to take care of yourself.

Do what you need to do. But it needs to be like a band aid. Right off.

"It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed." - Theodore Roosevelt

"Public opinion is a weak tyrant to that of private thought." HD Thoreau Walden

rhsanborn's picture

I'd take some caution with thinking that professionalism in the workplace is dead, and failing to be professional can set you up for disappointment later. I work in healthcare and interact with individuals at many other hospitals and healthcare related companies in my area. I get calls every few months from people I know that go like this, "Hey, soandso is applying here, and he said he worked at company X, you used to work with company X, do you know him? Do you have any input?". You really don't want to be interviewing for a job 4 years from now and have the answer be, "Don't waste your time, we interviewed and offered him, he accepted, and then a week later he withdrew his acceptance. He really put us in a bad spot."


ms321's picture

As a follow up, I wanted to let the community know that I did end up rescinding the offer. One, I was genuinely contrite.  It was one of the hardest things I've done for me personally and made sure they understood this wasn't a decision I took lightly.  Second, I was prepared for the question tell me why....? Third, I didn't make it about the company.  We left the call on amicable terms.  I can't say that this will be everyone's experience.  

Overall, this can't be completely black and white.  There's got to be some line that says if you have an offer that you can't pass up you have to deliberate it and make the best decision for you, your family and career.

I do know that I will ensure that this does not happen again.  It's a horrible decision to have to make but I can't have been more glad that I decided to make it. 


wroschek's picture
Licensee Badge

So it has been a few weeks since I originally posted the question. After a cross-country move and settling my family into our new home, I have stayed with my original acceptance. There is no right way to do the wrong thing, and staying true to my word was the right thing to do.

Thank you for all the candor in your responses, I truly appreciate the MT community and realize how valuable it is to have you every time I lean on you and you continue to come through in great ways.



Asergay's picture
Licensee Badge

No second offer yet, so this is speculative. I can offer the recruiting firm a candidate they've already met (it's one of my references).