Recently Forbes posted an article on "How to turn down a job offer." After wondering, "why would anyone do that?" you may look at this article as a sign of a recovering economy. If you are a job seeker, you do not have to accept a job offer if it isn't right for you. If you have multiple offers, turn to the Forbes article for advice on how to say "no." Before you start working on the way to turn down an offer, however, consider the reasons you might turn down what might otherwise be the perfect job.
Before you even start searching for a job, write up an inventory of things that are important to you. Identify your core values and choose a job accordingly.
If you have been offered a job or you are simply searching, keep the following deal breakers in mind so you do not end up making the wrong choice.
Even if the salary is attractive, if the benefits package is not, you may end up reducing your salary considerably by having to pay for your own medical, vision and eye care. If you want to save for retirement, looking at profit sharing, 401k and other similar plans is essential. An apparently large salary can be smoke and mirrors obscuring the real financial shortcomings of a job.
If community involvement, the environment, social justice, your faith tradition, and other values-based concerns hold an important place in your life, research the company's history of philanthropy, its commitment to the environment, the types of investments it makes and its overall stance on what you value. While these may not be directly connected to the job you will do for the company, if your values are odds with the company's, you may find yourself in an untenable position.
If you absolutely, positively must be on the job until 6:00, but your childcare provider closes at 6:00, you'll need to think of a solution before you accept the job. This may be an easy point to negotiate with your potential employer -- a solution could be as simple as a shorter lunch hour or earlier start time. Conversely, if you are considering a Monday through Friday nine-to-five job and you resist that type of lifestyle, this may be an issue for you. Additionally, if you are expected to be on call, work from home, do the graveyard shift, or work weekends, think about how much you want the job and whether or not it's a fit for your lifestyle.
Whether the job offer comes from a company in your home town or in a place thousands of miles away, location may be the most important consideration. In many ways, this is another aspect of benefits. How much time and money will you have to spend on a commute? If you need to spend three extra hours per day in your car, this may lead to job burnout. In the first month or so, you might be able to endure the hour and a half trip each way, but the grind may add up and the gas bill and auto repairs may significantly cut into your salary. If you really want the job and consider moving closer to work, how much will your cost of living increase to live near the office? If the job allows you to work at home, this can create its own challenges. Don't overlook them.
You should be paid a fair wage for the work you do, but do you know what that wage is? Do some research with salary data resources such as Simply Hired's Salary Estimator to get a general idea of average salaries in your field as well as more precise information on wages in your area. If your potential employer is offering substantially less than what you think you should be earning, you can take other things into consideration such as potential for raises and bonuses, the state of the job market in your area, and potential for job growth. You've still got to consider your bottom line, however. If the starting wage will put your budget in the red every month, and you're not able to negotiate a salary you're comfortable with, you're probably looking at a deal breaker.
Make sure you have a list of deal breakers in mind before you receive a job offer, but also keep an open mind in case the company offers valuable perks that may be worth sacrificing in another area. Certainly we can all put up with long days, late nights and even complex office politics, but some things are simply job offer deal breakers. By considering such job offer deal breakers ahead of time, you may already be putting yourself into an empowered mindset.
Nicholas White holds a PhD in rhetoric from the University of Arizona. He taught writing at Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, Long Beach State University and other schools over seven years. Dr. White has an ongoing interest in rhetoric and popular culture and an abiding interest in literature and film. He is also a contributor to Onlinecolleges.com.