The good news is that you got the job.

Which, in this still-reeling economy, is quite an accomplishment. But the bad news is you’re worried that you might be settling for a position that isn’t the right fit for you.

So where do you go from here?

The honest truth is there are times when you’ll have to take any job you can get, even if you know it’s a bad fit. Maybe your home is about to be foreclosed, you can’t pay your rent, or you have a family depending on you for income. I completely understand that there will be times when finding ANY job is a priority over the PERFECT job.

However, there is also the flip side of that coin, which is taking a job just for the sake of having a job even if you have the luxury of holding out for something better. Maybe you’re frustrated because your job search has taken longer than you expected, or you graduated university and you’re the last of your friends to find steady employment. Those situations are not ideal, but neither is taking a ‘filler’ job that won’t benefit your career.

To help you, here are some valid reasons to reject a job offer…

Lack of growth 

Every job you have should add to your CV – and not just in terms of taking up space. If you’re not going to have growth opportunities in terms of roles, knowledge and new projects or responsibilities, it’s a fair reason to be hesitant about accepting the job offer.

Make a list of what you’re already good at and the skills you want to gain. Will this new job allow you to work on these skills, or do the things you already excel at in a new market or with bigger name clients and teams? Even if you’re looking at a horizontal job move, you should have the opportunity to take on more responsibilities or see a possibility of a promotion.

If you’re not growing, you will either get bored too quickly and not perform at your best, you will get too comfortable with what you know and passed up for promotion, or you will be looking for another job again soon. Be sure to take a critical eye to the job description and maybe even talk to potential colleagues to see whether it will be a good fit for you.

Warning signs 

The hiring process is scattered, your potential manager is already emailing you on off-hours, or the potential colleagues you met were inappropriate or rude. These signs are easy to dismiss – hey, maybe they’re just busy – but they should actually be treated as red flags. Busy or not, the way you’re treated from your first day of communication within the hiring process is very telling as to how you’ll be treated as an employee.

If you want to be in this job for at least a while, look for great interviews with multiple employees, a hiring process that includes thoughtful interview questions and emails, and signs that the people who work there are respected, happy, and taken seriously. If you fail to see that, I would think twice.

Timing

It sounds like quite a small thing, but sometimes the timing of a job offer just isn’t right. A lot of people turn down job offers to take that extended trip they’ve always dreamed about, or because they wanted to wait and see what other job offers they would receive. Of course, sometimes the company will want an immediate answer, which can force you into a quick decision, but if they want you enough, they will wait. And if they don’t, that could be another warning sign.

If you’ve been on the job market for a long time and unemployment is starting to bring too many negative consequences to your life, it may be time to take that offer. But if you’ve got more interviews lined up, you might feel more secure in turning one down if the timing is not quite right.

Money matters

If money is a major factor in your decision to accept a new job, think twice before you do. In fact, think twice. Even three times.

Depending on your own financial situation and how much more you would be earning in a new job, money might not buy you job happiness or professional fulfilment. It might not even guarantee career advancement. Assess your finances, revisit your career goals, and look at your situation with a big picture view of your future. Making a move for a slight increase might not be worth it if there is more long term potential in your current job. Also, make sure you calculate your entire compensation package just to make sure that you’re not forfeiting a valuable insurance or retirement plan for a larger pay check.

You have the wrong motives

People are motivated to either move away from negative things (long hours, bad boss, unhealthy work environment, etc.) or towards positive things (interesting projects, higher pay, opportunity to advance, etc.) Take a look at your motivation. Are you accepting the job offer because you’re fed up with your current job and simply want to get away from it or are you feeling inspired by the possible new opportunities? Actions motivated by inspiring ultimately will always be more powerful than those made out of desperation.

It sounds too good to be true

Promises of a fast track to success, good fortune, or if you’re made to feel particularly special with the potential to earn unreasonable money, well, chances are, it is in fact, too good to be true and you should move on.

The communication is unprofessional

Are they texting you as a means to communicate important information or are you getting late night calls? Do they use language that sounds over-inflated and unnecessary? For example “We’re so thrilled to have you as a part of our team and we look forward to you being the top seller ever here!!!” notice the use exclamation marks. This is not only unprofessional but it also indicates a lack of authenticity.

There are discrepancies

Have you noticed that things stated in the offer varied from what was discussed in the interview? Often terms of an offer including title, salary, benefits, and responsibilities will be different from what you were told earlier during the hiring process. This could suggest poor communication between the human resources department and the manager, or maybe even deception. Regardless, it’s a huge red flag as it could be a sign of things to come if you were to accept the job.

The commute is too difficult

Getting to and from work shouldn’t be the most exhausting part of your day. If it is, you’ll arrive at your job with crazy nerves and then get home in a bad mood. Test out the commute by trying out the route beforehand, at the time of day you’d be expected to set off. Are you focused or frazzled?

You don’t believe in the company

Let’s say that you’ve been using Apple products for the last decade, you love them, and you think how all brands fall short and you’re offered a job selling Android phones. Well, how do you set aside your personal beliefs and passion to sell lesser quality products? The passion factor should definitely not be ignored.

You don’t think you’d fit into the work environment or culture

What does the new workplace ‘feel’ like? For example, it’s quiet and slow-paced, but you much prefer loud and frantic, it probably isn’t the right fit. Ask plenty of questions during your interviews about what it’s like to work there. Make sure they show you around and introduce you before you accept the offer. If the fit doesn’t turn out to be right, you may end up getting squeezed out one way or another.

The company has a bad reputation

Unless you’re being hired to help revitalize a company, it’s usually not a good idea to make a move to a business that is not respected, well-liked, or looked at favourably by the public and industry insiders. If you have your suspicions, use your initiative to research the company. Is a merger about to happen or will there be cutbacks? Are stocks falling? These are all signs that trouble is brewing.

The company has a high turnover rate

Research the company, read online job forums such as Glassdoor, reach out to former employees via LinkedIn, and know what former employees say about the company and why they left. High turnover suggests a negative work environment and not one that you should be going to.

All work, no life

There comes a time in almost everyone’s career when they have to put their nose to the grindstone and work almost to the point of burnout. If you’re just beginning your career or starting a second one, this may be what lies ahead for the next couple of years. However, if you’re mid-career with a family and other personal obligations, it may not be wise to accept 80 hours a week job. Consider the impact your new work schedule will have on you and your family. Will generous holiday allowance make up for longer hours? Is flexitime available so you’re still able to attend family functions? Are you able to work from home? Forfeiting invaluable work-life balance benefits without assessing the consequences could have a destructive impact on your personal life.

Declining the offer:

If you do decide to reject an offer, it’s important to do so in the right way and at the right time.

Common courtesy means being polite, even if you know you don’t want the job. Plus, there may be other opportunities at the company which turn out to be a better fit. If you decline tactfully, you may have the opportunity to be considered later on for a different role.

Typically, it’s best to take some time to consider an offer even if you’re leaning towards turning it down. Write a polite email or letter expressing your gratitude for the opportunity to explore the job. If you found that the job didn’t tap critical interests or skills, but the employer was impressive, you may want to enquire about other more suitable positions.

Similarly, there are times during an interview when it becomes clear that the job isn’t for you. If you find the company appealing but the job, not so much, you could politely share your interest in other positions more in line with your strengths at the conclusion of the interview.

If nothing else, do a gut-level check. It more than often comes down to what you’re feeling in your heart and gut. If it just doesn’t feel right, then be strong and confidently and graciously decline the job offer.

 

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