Originally posted on Tim’s Strategy.
I don’t recommend that my customers say no to a job offer unless there’s a good reason. That’s why when one of my most promising customers told me she was reluctant to accept a job offer at a leading hotel corporation, I advised her to consider the circumstances.
First of all, she would be assuming a great deal of responsibilities. And second she’d be making 70% of what she previously made. Both of these factoids seemed the equivalent of doing hard labor in a rock quarry and being paid minimum wage.
I only needed to point out the disparity of salaries for her to decline the offer, even though she had negotiated a $4,000 increase. (Actually she’s smart enough to realize this.)
There are times when you should decline an offer. My customer’s story is just one of them. A ridiculous salary offer isn’t the only reason for declining an offer. There are three others.
Motivation. When pundits say you’re not the only person interviewing you, they’re correct. The responsibilities of said position have to motivate you to be your best. Motivation is a key factor in being a high achiever, and you don’t want to settle for less than being your best.
One of my best connections and an expert on motivation-based interviewing, Carol Quinn, states that motivation-based interviews is one of the best ways for interviewers to determine the potential of a candidate. So it figures that not only should the employer be concerned about your motivation; you would want to be motivated as well. Will the position challenge you to do your best and offer variety, or will it be a dead-end street?
Bad work environment. Another reason for not accepting an offer is sensing a volatile work environment. A former colleague of mine would often confide in me that where she was working was a toxic work environment. Management was distrustful of its employees and would often be abusive.
During an interview you should ask questions that would uncover the company’s environment. A simple one is, “Why did the former marketing specialist leave?” Or, “What makes your employees happy working here?” What about, “How do you reward your employees for creativity and innovation?”
Sincere answers to these questions will assure you that you are entering an environment with your eyes wide open, good or bad. Vague responses should raise a red flag. The best way to determine what kind of environment you may inherit is to network with people who work at a potential organization.
Security. A third reason for not accepting an offer is the financial status of the company. If you discover through discussions that the company is at risk of closing its doors soon, it’s not wise to accept the offer, even if you “just want a job.” This also goes for grant-funded positions. A position that will end in less than a year should make you consider if you want to join the organization only to be let go before you even get your feet wet.
Lack of goals. Some of my customers have told me that they’ve been taking temp-to-perm positions that have spanned over many years; and that they’re tired of the short-term stints. Additionally, their résumé resembles one that shouts, “Job hopper.” Your current unemployment can be a time to strategize about where you want your career to go, a time to experience clarity, not throwing darts at a wall of short-term jobs.
While I wanted my customer to land a job in a short period of job seeking, I would have kicked myself for telling her that a bird in hand is better than nothing. I have tremendous faith in her abilities and tenacity. She will be land soon. That I’m sure of.