Thursday, November 29, 2007

When Not to take a Job Offer - Part 1

handshakeFree Money Finance wrote a post the other day about when to not take a job offer. I actually think it is a pretty interesting topic. I'm touching on it a little bit earlier than I want but when I take into account that I just accepted a job offer, it makes sense to talk about why I took this one as opposed to other job offers.

As I started writing this post, I realized it really depends on the particular situation. Therefore, I'm going to write this post in a few different parts to address each situation. The situation I think most people will find themselves in is that they still are at their current job (company A) and they are looking for a change in scenery. For this exercise, I'm going to assume you are trying get as high on the corporate ladder as you can in the shortest amount of time. So given this situation, imagine you receive a job offer from Company B, should you take it? Here are situations I would not take a job offer.

You are not 100% sure that whatever is bothering you about your current job is not going to happen at the new job - Most people fail to realize that a lot of problems they have with their job is not specific to their team, company, etc. They fail to realize that whatever they hate about their current job is going to exist at their next job and so get stuck in a vicious cycle.

You are going to take significantly less money for the same role - This is actually an extension of above. If you are going to switch companies to do the same work, why would you take a pay cut? Pay is important. It isn't strictly about what it will buy you. It's the fact that it is a signal to you how important the job is to the company. If one company is going to pay you less, you have to wonder if it really is the same job.

You are going to take a lesser role - I have actually fallen trap to this. I was eager to leave Company A and took a position where my role would be less than what it was at the time (the money was about the same). While it worked out for me, this is generally not a good idea. If you want to reach the top of the corporate ladder, it is critically important that you have steady progression upwards. If you take a lesser role, and it doesn't work out, this will impact you as you look for a new job at Company C. Here is a little secret. Changing jobs is often the BEST time to go for a promotion. That's right. Often, it is easier to get a BETTER role going to a new company than it is at your own, so you should almost never take a lesser role. Keep looking if this is the case.

You haven't mapped out what you want in your career - If you don't know what you want, hoping to find it at your next job is the wrong way to find it. Changing jobs should be a very thoughtful exercise, you need to do it for the right reason. You should not jump from job to job hoping that someone will tell you what you should be doing. Nobody cares about your career more than you do. If you think you are going to find a manager who is suddenly going to tell you what you should be doing and how you will get there, you will be looking for a long time.

You haven't really tried to make it work at your current job - The grass isn't always greener. A lot of people just move from job to job hoping to find that "perfect" job. They don't actually realize that their current situation isn't all that bad, and haven't tried to work out the issues they have. Most companies and managers want to retain good people and don't want to see you leave. If it can be worked out, you should at least explore if staying is a legitimate option.

Despite all these reasons not to take a job offer, let me give you something to think about that was said by a friend of mine just last night. If the only reason you are at your current job is inertia, you need to get out. I can't tell you the number of people I have talked to who have told me that they are "comfortable" at their current job so they don't want to look for another. They only reason they are where they are, is that it is "too hard" to find another job or they are too lazy. That is the absolute worse reason to be at a job, and a sure sign you need to be looking hard to go somewhere else.

Those are my reasons not to take a job offer if you are deciding between your current job and a new one, can you think of any more?


  1. I have received a few offers in the the last year and a half and I turned all of them down because they all started off with, "Well, we'd like to start you out as freelance first...". Um, yeah, I have a full-time job with benefits. I'm supposed to quit that to work freelance for you guys? Thanks, but no thanks. This seems to be the norm now in my field (graphic design), which is not so cool.

  2. Yeah, don't blame you for not taking the job to start out as a Freelance. If someone doesn't want to offer you a full time job, I don't think you should take it.

  3. I'd avoid taking a significantly lesser role like the plague. It's not rank or prestige. It's the boredom. I'm sure everyone's had at least one job where you had spent more energy forcing yourself to concentrate than actually doing the work. After 2 months of that, you just pray to end each day with your sanity in tact.

  4. Thanks for highlighting my post!

  5. At any time during an interview when you realize the reporting manager speaking to you is shifty, not as bright as you'd like as your leader, or just weak, cut out as soon as you can. If you feel that way in less than one hour, imagine having to work with that person for a prolong period of time.