Congratulations, you’ve just been offered the job! That was the hard part, right? Maybe not. Determining whether to accept the job can be just as challenging. In today’s economy, it’s not uncommon to switch jobs every three to four years. Being able to evaluate whether a perspective job offer is a good fit for your immediate and long-term professional goals is critical.
In my 15+ years of recruiting, I’ve seen highly qualified job candidates ultimately turn down great jobs or accept the wrong job for myriad reasons – some good, some bad. When advising candidates on whether to accept or decline a job offer, I tell them to keep the following in mind:
Educate yourself about the company and the position.
During the interview process, express your expectations and desires about the job. Ask questions about the company’s future direction and its corporate culture to assess whether working there will be a good fit for your professional goals. If you’re on the fence after receiving the offer, ask the hiring manager if there is someone in a position similar to yours with whom you can speak to learn more about the company culture and opportunities for growth.
Be realistic about your prospects.
If you know you are a final round candidate for multiple jobs at once, you’ve got some flexibility when it comes to making a decision. However, if you only have one offer on the table, it can be difficult to compare that with theoretical possibilities. Honestly evaluate the applications that are currently underway and the likelihood you are to receive an offer. Don’t hold out for a better offer that may never come.
Let go of the idea that there is a single “dream” position.
No job will ever be perfect. Whether it’s a co-worker who rubs you the wrong way or a long commute, there’s a downside to just about every job. As objectively as possible, weigh the pros and cons about accepting this new position. If the salary is not as high as you were expecting, will you be learning a new, valuable skill or significantly expanding your professional contact base that could offset a lower salary? If the commute is longer than you want, are there opportunities for telecommuting or flexible hours? Talk to the hiring manager about how you can shape the job to better match your professional and personal needs.
Never take a job out of desperation.
Whether it’s a mismatch in company culture or lack of professional challenge, don’t be afraid to walk away from a job offer that just doesn’t fit your needs. If you feel like you’re taking a job out of desperation, you may resent the position and ultimately underperform. This could damage your industry reputation and hurt your candidacy for future positions. It’s better to be honest with the hiring manager about why you are declining the position than accept a job that ultimately will make you – and everyone around you – miserable.
Have you ever declined a job offer? I’d love to hear more about what considerations were made in determining whether to accept or decline job offer, and ultimately why you decided the position just wasn’t right for you. I invite you to share your experience below.
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