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Just Say No? Sometimes You Should Turn Down a Job Offer

turn down a job

Just Say No? Sometimes You Should Turn Down a Job Offer

If you’ve been in the job market for more than…a minute, you’re probably imagining – no fantasizing – about getting that job offer. You can see yourself saying yes, and leaving the job hunt behind. But what about when it isn’t right? Do you know when to turn down a job offer? Yes, really, these times exist. And they can be hard to see in the moment.

turn down a job

Five times you should turn down a job offer:

1. Cash out. Money is not everything, but it is something. If you are doing all sorts of money management acrobatics to make a new job offer work financially, be careful. If you have been in the market for a while, it’s tempting to take the first thing that comes along, even when it’s less than you need.

Or, a job could seem amazing – you love the company’s mission, you think the people are interesting and smart, and the commute is great. But, that can fade fast when every month’s bills are due. Consider also jobs that pay enough…but not what you’re worth. If you go into a job feeling like you’re undervalued from the start…well, don’t, it’s time to turn down a job offer like that.

2. Culturally unfit. There are a lot of different views on a company’s cultural fit — whether it is inclusive or not, whether a company can preserve a great environment or has obligation to change one that doesn’t work.

But, that doesn’t matter here. The point is, you need to assess whether you can fit into the culture as it at this moment. If you are going to feel out of place, stressed, apologetic, or whatever else makes it feel like you’re just not one of them — you need to turn down a job offer that you can’t thrive in.

3. Mission impossible. What if the job pays well, the money is ok, but…you just don’t believe in what they are trying to do. Everyone has to be realistic about putting some personal opinions aside at work, but if you are fundamentally opposed to what they do – tobacco, animal testing, fast food, whatever – you’ll almost never be able to perform your best.

4. Time out. As with most things, timing is everything. This is especially important to consider if, for example, you’re in a job you like, and a headhunter reached out to you. While it might be flattering to be pursued, paid more, given more responsibilities, make sure it is the right time for you.

There might be a reason that you aren’t in the market. If you have other major personal priorities – starting a family, going to school at night, dealing with a health issue – be sure that you don’t sacrifice them. If you start a new job, you’ll have to prove yourself. On the other hand, a job where you have a long history and good relationships, you may find more accommodations for your personal needs.

And perhaps the most important reason to turn down a job offer:

5. Instinct. Yup, really. Sometimes, something just seems off. Maybe even a quick look around the office feels like people seem unhappy, bored, or stressed. Or, if you had a chance to speak to people, and they seemed weary or resigned. Maybe their glassdoor reviews are worrying. Maybe it’s nothing you can put your finger on – that’s ok. There is nothing wrong with trusting yourself and moving on.