How to Decline a Job Offer Due to Salary

April 10, 2019 • Rehack Team


When you’re interviewing for jobs, there’s a lot of pressure to land an interview and get that final job offer. You want something that will help you pursue your passions while also being able to meet your bills and spend a little extra money on fun activities. The right job for you is out there, but what happens when a job offer is given with a salary that’s lower than what you were expecting? Here’s how to properly decline a job offer.

It’s hard to realize that you can’t take a job because it pays too little, especially if it’s a job you really want to do. The good news is that there’s a strategy behind working with the salary that’s initially offered with the job. You don’t necessarily have to take the first number that’s given, and most employers know that people are going to negotiate.

Not sure how to decline a job offer due to salary? Have you ever negotiated a pay raise before you’ve even been given the job? Read on to learn how to do just that without needing to shut down a future with the company you want to work for.

With the right strategy, you can get your future employer to raise your pay to what you believe you should earn, without having to give up the offer and look for employment elsewhere.

Negotiate With Facts

If you have a lengthy history in the job you’ve been offered or valuable experience that qualifies you for the job, it’s time to put that to good use. Look over your work history and figure out what points are most important to why you should be paid a higher salary.

Make a list of those experiences. Maybe you led a team to a major milestone at your old job, have years of experience in what you do or have valuable ideas and game plans that will make you an important player in office culture.

After you make that list, write down what you earn now. What would your salary be in your current or previous job that would be equal to the skills you bring to the workplace?

You can base that improved salary on the average pay for your position in your industry. An employer will be more willing to work with a competitive rate than an outrageous one.

You should also take into consideration what you’ll need to do to start your new job. Will you have to move, and how far would that move be?

On average, people who move in the US pay $2,300-$4,300 to relocate. If your potential employer has already said they can’t cover the cost of your move, mention that an increased salary will help get you there.

Know When to Stop

Decide your minimum salary as soon as you can. It should be higher than what you earned in your last position, competitive with similar roles in your industry and able to cover the cost of living where your new job should be. If your potential employer continually insists that they pay what’s below your minimum salary, it’s time to stop negotiating.

Sometimes when you stop negotiations, it gives your potential employer time to step back and reconsider how they’re willing to meet you in the middle to get you on board. This could end up being just what you need to squeeze those few extra dollars into your salary, or it could be when both parties realize that things aren’t going to work out.

Write Everything Down

You never know what’s in store in the future, which is why you should always try to turn down job offers in writing. In case the employer comes back to you in the future, you can refer back to your standards that were outlined in previous correspondence.

Start with an overview of your rejection draft. First, you should say that you’re thankful for their consideration for the role. Follow it up with a statement about how you can’t accept the job due to the salary. There won’t be any confusion by your potential employer as to why you’re rejecting the job offer, which is why you should always be straightforward.

There are a few different times when you may need to decline a job offer. The first one is before you’ve accepted the offer while you’re still in the negotiating phase. The second scenario may be that you’ve accepted the offer, but you’ve done the math and you won’t be able to live on what they’ve said they’ll pay you. Both of these kinds of rejections should be written in a professional template, much like how it’s smart to follow a resume template when putting your work experience on paper.

Reject Before You Accept

Follow this template if you haven’t accepted a job offer yet. It’s direct, which your potential employer will appreciate. There’s no need to sugarcoat anything, as both parties understand that this is strictly business.

“Dear (Name of Recruiter),

Thank you for your offer. I feel as though I’d be an excellent fit for this position and could grow in it. However, the offered salary isn’t enough to give me reason to leave my current position. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you’d like to discuss this further.


(Your Name)”

This template leaves the door open in case they’d like to renegotiate your salary. It’s important to mention that you would do well in the role they’ve offered, since employers are always looking for employees who can start in a job and grow from it. Growth benefits everyone involved.

Reject After You Accept

It’s okay if you need to reject a job offer you’ve already accepted. Nothing’s set in stone until you start on your first day, and even then, most employers offer a standard 90 day period where they expect the possibility of a new employee leaving. Send this rejection template to get right to the point.

“Dear (Name of Recruiter),

Thank you for the job offer for the position of (Position Title). While I believe this role would be a great fit for me, it’s come to my attention that the salary isn’t where I would need it to be. I look forward to the opportunity to talk more about this at your earliest convenience.


(Your Name)”

The truth is that even if you accepted a job offer, you don’t owe an employer anything. You have the freedom to decline a job offer at any point, especially if it’s in regards to salary.

Try these templates to get your responses in email, so you can refer back to them later if you need to. Always be honest and straightforward with a potential employer and they’ll respect you much more for it. In the meantime, use your connections and other resources to get your name back in the field so you can keep the interviews coming.