How to Write the Perfect Refusal Letter

Larry Barkdull
Award-Winning, Nationally Recognized Writer

In order to make this type of negative message easier to write, both the Refusal Letter and the Rejection Letter need to be short, congenial, and to the point. This article will give you some valuable tips on crafting a professional, courteous, and effective letter.

The Refusal Letter

Imagine this scenario: you've been offered a desirable position and you've accepted it. Now it's time to write a Refusal Letter to any other companies that may have offered you employment. You should notify them as soon as possible so they can resume their employee search. It is a mark of professional courtesy to send a Refusal Letter.

Here are some guidelines for your Refusal Letter:

  • Say "Thank you." Graciously thank the employer for his/her time, interview(s), offer of employment, and any special considerations that may have given you during the hiring process.
  • State your refusal clearly. Don't use a buffer to begin a negative message. Experienced employers can anticipate what's coming anyway. Be courteous, but get to the point quickly.
  • Explain your reasons. The more specific the reason for refusal, the better. For example, tell the employer that you have accepted another offer because it more closely matches your educational degree, your career goals, your desired job location, etc.
  • Close the letter courteously. Close the door on your relationship gently by ending on a note of goodwill. Who knows? You may be approaching this same employer for another job down the road.

Rejection Letter

If you are writing a Rejection Letter for another reason, your goal should be to make the reader feel that he/she would do the same thing if the situation were reversed.

  • Get to the point. It is better to deliver the message of rejection in the beginning rather than placing it farther down in the Rejection Letter.
  • Be brief—don't verbally attack the point. You want to be straightforward, not argumentative. Briefly state how you came to your decision. This will help the reader realize that you were trying to make a decision that was best for everyone.
  • Make the ending short and sweet. Depending on the circumstances, conclude with a statement of goodwill. However, this is not always necessary. In some situations, positive endings actually annoy readers and sound condescending. The professional wording and tone of your Rejection Letter are the most important considerations.
  • Close the letter courteously. Close the door on your relationship gently by ending on a note of goodwill. Who knows? You may consider this applicant for another job down the road. A friend of mine turned down a company twice. The owner said, "Good people like you are hard to find. We hope you apply again. Three times is a charm."
  • Final Note: As a mark of professional courtesy, send your Refusal or Rejection Letter in a timely manner—as soon as you officially accept the position you have chosen.

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