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Why Declining a Job Offer Could Be the Best Decision You Ever Make

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Declining a job offer

When you’ve been job hunting for ages, you may be tempted to accept the first offer you get — even if you sense it’s probably a bad fit. In a tough economy, you may feel lucky to have even been offered a position. But sometimes, it’s better to just say no.

Granted, if you’ve been living off your credit cards for awhile and you’re about to be evicted, you can’t be picky about where your next paycheck comes from.

But if you want to make the next big step in your career, you can stand to be a bit more selective. (Click here to tweet this quote.) Go into each interview with an evaluative eye, and value yourself enough to turn down the wrong job.

Look out for these eight warning signs. If you notice several of these red flags throughout the interview process, think twice about accepting that job offer.

1. The hiring manager doesn’t respect your time

You arrived early, dressed the part and delivered smart, well thought-out answers to every question. But did your interviewer fare so well? Did they leave you waiting for 30 minutes? Did they constantly check their phone throughout the interview? Did they act as if they’d never seen your resume before?

It’s not a good sign when someone comes unprepared to an interview and fails to show you basic courtesy. If the hiring manager is late, unprepared and distracted, imagine what it’d be like to work with this person every day.

2. Everyone seems miserable

We all have our bad days, but a general feeling of misery hanging over the office should give you pause.

It’s OK to ask the interviewer what they like about working there; if they struggle to come up with a reason, it could mean that none exist. Encountering employees who seem unhappy, angry or bored is a red flag.

3. You’d be stepping backwards, not forwards

If you’re changing careers, you may have to accept a pay cut as you build new experience and skills. But be careful about how big of a step back you’re willing to take.

For example, if you’ve worked as a managing editor for the last few years, you probably shouldn’t accept an editorial assistant position just because you’re desperate for a change of scenery. Unless it’s guaranteed you’ll move up the ranks quickly (and get that in writing), the step in the wrong direction will raise a red flag on your resume.

4. The company seems unstable

Do your due diligence to research the company, both online and by asking your network. You want to know if this organization recently laid off a big portion of their staff or is struggling financially.

Find out if this is a job you’re still likely to have six months down the road. And don’t be afraid to address these concerns in the interview.

5. The company has a bad reputation

Whether because of a scandal or poor business practices, if the company isn’t well-respected in your industry, you don’t want that scarlet letter on your resume. Could working here could hurt your career advancement down the road?

Again, milking your network for information and online research (Glassdoor is a great resource) can usually tell you a lot about how the company operates and perceptions past and present employees have.

6. The company’s morals don’t match your own

Respect your beliefs enough to turn down a job that goes against your morals. If you’re a staunch anti-smoking advocate, don’t take a job at an advertising agency whose main clients are cigarette companies. If you’re a Democrat, don’t take a job on a Republican’s campaign.

Working for a company that goes against your values will make every single work day difficult. You’ll also send mixed signals when you’re job searching down the road.

7. The recruiter seems dishonest

Maybe you discover that the job advertised is actually significantly different than the one you end up interviewing for. Or you’re offered a certain salary and benefits, then they change their mind at the last minute.

If the company seems like they’re trying to pull one over on you, do you really want to put your career in their hands?

8. The pay is simply too low

You should be willing to be flexible for a job you really want, but don’t undersell yourself or allow yourself to be taken advantage of. Know your worth — but be realistic about your prospects.

Get details about the full compensation and benefits package before accepting any job offer.

If you encounter any of these eight red flags as you’re interviewing for a job, think twice about the job offer on the table. Remember that you want your next job to be the right move for you professionally — not just another dead-end job you’ll want to leave in a few months. If a job isn’t the right fit for you, hold out and keep searching for something long-lasting.

Have you made the decision to turn down a job? What were the red flags for you?

Michelle Kruse is the Recruitment Editor and Content Manager for ResumeEdge.com, a resume writing and editing service, where she manages a team of over 40 professional resume writers. Her prior experience includes 10+ years of hiring and recruiting experience and a background in coaching and leadership development.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

  • jrandom421

    Unfortunately, if you’re receiving unemployment benefits, declining a job offer or lying about declining a job offer will result in the loss of your benefits.

  • Joselyn Lewey

    This is the first thing I read today, and its pretty funny that I just went to an interview at Comcast. The job title actually changed between the phone interview and the face-to-face interview. During the interview, I noticed a complete lack of a value that I hold very high. I was thinking last night that I would decline this job. Reading this helped reinforce that.

  • Joey CoCo

    I have turned down offers from managers who are not nearly as smart or experienced as I. I had one guy interview me with his tie loose and hanging down with sleeves rolled up – I turned him down before we started talking because it was a sales job and if a sales pro doesnt know anything else, it would be how to make a professional first impression in any business meeting. I have turned down offers when I know I was being hired as the EEOC token – I have learned how minorities can be manipulated in the job search and after the search.