A job search can be a long and frustrating process. Of course, your ultimate goal is to end up with a great career, in an exciting place to work, with a fantastic salary. You might take a good job, in a nice place to work, with a decent salary. You definitely don’t want a crappy job, in a bad place to work, with a pathetic salary — but if you’ve been looking long enough, you may be tempted to settle for less than you need.
Taking the first job you’re offered might be the wrong choice. And if you happen to get more than one job offer, you’ll have to decide which to accept, and you’ll be left having to turn one down. Here are some tips to help you recognize when you should say no to a job offer — and how to politely turn down a job that’s just not right for you.
Salary: When enough isn’t enough
While there are many different reasons people might want a certain job, from a great benefits package to a nap room for employees, “making a lot of money” still tops the list for many. The salary is an important consideration for any job offer. Yours should be commensurate with your experience and the position you’re being hired for — if the company is offering significantly less than your last job with no subsequent perks or benefits to make up for it, or significantly lower than the average salary for that position, you should probably say no.
In addition to the salary itself, be sure to consider the job responsibilities. You might find that you’ll be making the same amount, but you’ll have a lot more responsibility and will therefore work much harder — without a raise to show for your efforts. Under these circumstances, it may not be the right job.
Responsibilities: When your get-up won’t go
Motivation is essential to long-term career satisfaction. Your initial reading of a position’s responsibilities should motivate you to perform, and the interview should reinforce that motivation on both your part and that of the employer.
If the actual responsibilities don’t seem clear during the interview, be sure to ask questions that clarify exactly what the job will involve. You don’t want to end up doing a job that you’re not qualified for — or conversely, one that will present little to no challenge and result in career stagnation. If there doesn’t seem to be ample on-the-job motivation or room to grow, it’s likely a position you’ll want to decline.
Culture: When you’re a square peg
Finding out about an organization’s culture before you accept a job offer is a must. A toxic environment is a definite don’t, but you also don’t want to work in a culture that is radically different or oppositional to your own working style — such as excessive formalism for creative positions, or a laid-back atmosphere that borders on indifference in a highly competitive industry.
Pay attention to cultural cues during your job interviews, so you can tell whether you’d be a good fit for this particular company. Asking questions such as why the person who held the position before you left, or how employees are rewarded for innovation or extra effort, can elicit telling responses that will help you decide how comfortable you’d be in the environment.
How to say “thanks, but no thanks” politely
If you find yourself with a job offer you have to refuse, it’s best to turn it down gently and graciously, no matter how strongly you feel about the offer. Here’s how:
- Offer your heartfelt thanks. Keep in mind that the recruiter or hiring manager has probably spent several hours reviewing your resume, researching you on social media, and interviewing you. They may have also talked you up to the team before offering you the job. Indicate that you know how much went into recruiting you, and you appreciate their efforts, by saying thanks for specific things the interviewer did, like answering all your questions or introducing you to key personnel.
- Give a brief, understandable reason. It’s rude to leave hiring managers clueless over why you’re declining the position — but if you get too specific here, you could step on toes fairly hard. It’s nearly always best to state that you’re declining the offer after careful consideration because you’ve decided to pursue other opportunities.
- Keep in touch. Even turning down a job offer is not a good reason to burn bridges. You never know when the wrong opportunity might become the right one, or you’ll get the chance to do a favor for a hiring manager by sending the right candidate their way — and you’ll build goodwill for your career along the way.
In the long run, holding out for the right job — and being able to say no to the wrong one — is the best thing you can do for your career. Consider your options carefully before you accept an offer, and don’t be afraid to turn down a position that could put you back on the job search path a lot sooner than you’d planned. Partner with The Armada Group during your job search, to find out how our team of staffing experts can find positions you'll want to say "Yes!" to.