When to turn down a contract?

Although it might sound strange to turn down the opportunity for work, sometimes it can actually be in your best interests to take a step back and consider the options you have available at that time.

Turning down a contract offer will generally depend on your personal circumstances, but whatever your reasons, you must always do so politely but firmly. After all, you do not want to burn any bridges; that particular client could end up having the perfect role for you somewhere down the line.

Why would you turn down a contract offer?

As previously stated, there are many reasons why you might consider turning down a contract offer and here are some of the most common reasons, whether you work through an umbrella company or limited company.


Some freelancers operate by taking on a number of projects at the same time. For example, if you’re a graphic designer or writer, you might be working for numerous clients over the course of any given month.

If this is how you operate, then it is crucially important to balance your workload properly. Although it might be tempting to take on more work for the extra income it will generate, you must also consider whether it will affect the quality of your overall work.

In this case, it’s probably wiser to turn down the extra work and stick to providing your existing clients with the best service possible. After all, delivering a sub-standard piece of work to a paying client may affect you in the long run.

The work isn’t right for you

As a contractor, you have the final say over which projects you take on. This is one of the major perks of working in this way. Not only does this allow you to take control of your career but it lets you pick the contracts that will help you develop as a professional.

You might be offered the opportunity to work for a client that will challenge you and give you something extra to add to your CV at the end of it. At the same time you may also have the option to take a job that, although suitable for someone with your expertise, will not give you as much experience.

In this scenario, it may be a case of turning down one contract in favour of another. At the end of the day, it’s your choice as you’re the boss!

The pay isn’t right

A client may be offering you a role at a rate which is lower than your market value. Again, this is a judgement call. If the pay is lower but the project may offer you other opportunities – such as a long term contract – then it may be worth taking on.

The same can be said if the contract will allow you to acquire new skills. In the long run this will benefit you and may be worth the temporary pay cut.

That being said, your income is important and if the client is offering a rate that you deem to be less than acceptable then you may wish to decline. Again, this is dependant on the individual and personal circumstance.