Accepting and Declining Job Offers Webster University | Career Planning & Development Center

Information and website links have been provided as a convenience for users and the Webster University Career Planning & Development Center (CPDC) is not responsible for the contents of any linked site. This resource is not a comprehensive list.

In this guide, we will discuss information regarding accepting and declining job offers. Explore the resources below to learn more about the different stages throughout the job seeking sequence of events.

Getting Started

You have been offered a job, thoroughly examined your options, and you now feel confident in your decision. At this point you are ready to communicate your decision to the employer, but you might not be sure how exactly you should do that. Throughout your professional career you will likely encounter many situations in which you must accept or decline job offers. Regardless of your decision, there are several factors to consider in your response to an employer and many ways to professionally communicate your decision.

The content throughout this guide will help provide strategies and information regarding effectively communicating your decision to an employer along with providing examples of correspondence between a candidate and employer, which you may explore to help formulate ideas about how to engage in these conversations. Throughout this guide we will explore common topics of significance when accepting or declining job offers.


  • Reflective Questions
  • Communicating Your Decision
  • Examples
  • Additional Circumstances

Reflective Questions

Before you respond to an employer it can help to ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I have the information required to make an informed decision or would having any additional information increase my ability to feel confident in my choice?
  • Based on what I know about this company and on my previous interactions, does the company and position seem to align with my values and workplace expectations?
  • Do I feel pressured to reply too quickly? Would it be beneficial to ask the employer for additional time to decide?
  • Have I thoroughly evaluated my options?

Communicating Your Decision

Factors to consider regardless of your decision include:

Communication Channel

How will you be getting in touch with the employer? Has the majority of your correspondence been conducted via email, phone call, mail, or in person? Determine how you will be reaching out the employer to communicate your decision. Consider how direct you would like the communication to be. Some communication methods such as phone calls are a bit more direct than an email or a letter, but not necessarily always required of the situation. Determine the method that best suits the situation and with which you are most comfortable. If the employer noted any preference, make sure you adhere to it.


When communicating with a potential employer, make sure to maintain consistently professional language and tone. This is especially true when responding to a job offer, regardless of the decision you make. Use clear and direct language in any emails, letters, or phone calls. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and incorporate more of a formal language and tone rather than casual.

Expressing Appreciation

Be gracious, show appreciation, and make sure to thank the employer regardless of your response. Showing gratitude is considered standard professional etiquette. The employer likely invested a significant amount of time reviewing your application materials, meeting or speaking with you, and evaluating your candidacy. It is also in the best interest of all parties to maintain a positive professional relationship. You never know if and when your professional paths may cross again.


While each individual situation is unique and specific details may vary, there are some general guidelines that can be followed in determining the appropriate amount of time to mull an offer and communicate your intent to accept or decline an employer's job offer.

It is fairly common that along with the offer, an employer will provide a certain time frame or request a deadline for receiving your answer. Try to adhere to the employer’s timeline if possible, unless you deem the time frame to be unreasonable or anticipate the need for more time given other potential opportunities that remain fluid or unresolved. It is completely acceptable to check in with any other employer(s) that you may be more interested in regarding your application status or their hiring timeline. Depending on the circumstances, however, it may be necessary to make a decision without this information.

While different situations may warrant different individual details, in general, at a minimum, most employers will provide at least several days or a week for your decision. Anything less than a few days is fairly uncommon. If an employer sets an unrealistic timeline for your answer or pressures you into making a decision before you are comfortable to do so, that may be a red flag and it may be worth examining if it is truly an opportunity you want to accept. It may also serve as an indication of a quicker pace of the office, type of work environment, and what deadline expectations may be like. Chances are that if you are uncomfortable with the deadline for a decision, you may be uncomfortable with other deadlines or expectations of the position.

"Most employers will provide at least several days or a week for your decision."

An important consideration to keep in mind is that it is completely acceptable to ask for more time to make your decision. You may have several potential opportunities that you are still evaluating, you may be waiting on receiving a decision from other employers, or any other number of factors may warrant asking for additional time to decide. Asking the employer for more time is acceptable, but be sure to be clear in your communication and adhere to any self-imposed deadlines or actions you indicate that you will take. In general, employers want you to be confident in your decision too, even if that means taking some extra time to think about it.

"An important consideration to keep in mind is that it is completely acceptable to ask for more time to make your decision."

Consistent Communication

When you have been extended an offer, maintain consistent communication with the employer. Even if the employer stipulates a preferred decision date that is well into the future, make sure you stay connected in the interim. This is especially true if you are towards the end of an internship experience and the employer extends a job offer that wouldn't begin until a later date.

You may want to thank the employer for the offer and indicate a time frame in which they can expect a response (ex. Thank you very much for the offer. I am evaluating my different options and anticipate making my decision before the end of the week. Thank you again and I will talk with you soon).

Example Communications

Requesting additional time:


Thank you very much for extending the offer for employment. I am excited by the prospect of working at [COMPANY] and I am in the process of considering my different options and exploring potential opportunities. I expect to reach a decision by [DATE]. I was wondering would it be possible to inform you of my decision and respond to your offer by that date? Thank you very much and I look forward to hearing from you!



Additional considerations:

  • Employers will often be amenable to extended decision deadlines, as they too want their new hires to be fully committed and confident in their decision.
  • Alluding to the notion that other employers are also considering you or have extended employment offers can at times result in a new, more favorable offer. For more information about navigating the topic of compensation you can explore the CPDC's Negotiating Salary resource.

Accepting an offer via email:

Additional Considerations

  • If accepting a job offer via email, make sure that the subject line is clear.
  • Restate the salary amount or any additional information that was agreed upon. This helps serve as clarification of the specific parameters for all parties.
  • Address the email to the individual who initially extended the offer.
  • Once you have accepted an offer, it is good practice to inform any other employers with whom you have been communicating. Again, maintain professionalism and express gratitude.

Declining an offer via letter:

Additional Considerations

  • Offer a very brief explanation regarding why you are declining the offer. It doesn't have to be too detailed and should remain positive and professional.
  • Be sure of your choice and be confident in your decision.
  • Be swift with your communication. Once you’ve made your decision and are confident in it, do not delay in letting the employer know. They will likely want to know as soon as possible so that they can pivot to other candidates to fill the vacancy.
  • Don't feel bad about it. Not every position you are offered is going to match what you're looking for and you don't have to feel obligated to accept a position just because it was extended to you.

Additional Circumstances

Reneging or Revising Your Choice

Accepting an offer, then turning it down (also called reneging) is a practice that should be avoided unless absolutely necessary, as it can be viewed as unethical and unprofessional. However, if after careful consideration you determine that rejecting an offer after you’ve initially accepted it is the best option, these are some considerations to keep in mind (Again, the Career Planning & Development Center strongly advises students to not renege on job offers):

  • Ensure that you did not sign a legally binding contract and that there will be no legal ramifications for declining the job.
  • Be aware of the potential risks to your professional reputation involved with reneging. Employers typically prefer that candidates not abruptly reverse their previously communicated decision. You never know who an employer is connected to and employers may communicate with one another. If you are in an especially small industry, be aware of the possibility that other industry connections could become aware of this which could damage your reputation as a candidate in the future.
  • The best way to avoid the situation altogether is to thoroughly evaluate the offer and consider all of your options prior to making your decision. Making sure you are fully committed to accepting the job prior to responding to the employer is the best course of action. Remember, you can always ask for more time to make the decision if it is necessary to be confident in your choice.

Final Thoughts

Responding to job offers is a necessary step in the job seeking experience, regardless of whether you are accepting or declining an offer. While each situation is unique, consider these general guidelines which were explored throughout this guide:

  • There are multiple communication methods that you can use to communicate your offer including email, mail, phone call, or in-person. Determine and use the method that is most suitable for the situation.
  • Responding in a professional manner and expressing gratitude are essential aspects of any response.
  • It is important to either adhere to the employer's preferred decision date or to request (and be granted) additional time to make your decision.
  • For additional assistance or for answering any questions you have regarding accepting and declining job offers, schedule an appointment with your career advisor on Handshake.


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