Should You Take the Job When You Only Have One Offer?

If you only have one job offer, how do you decide whether to accept or decline? There is no universally correct answer to this difficult decision. Rather, the answer varies on a case by case basis.

First off, you have an offer – congratulations. A company is impressed enough that it thinks you would add value, which is a testament to your skills and abilities.

To accept or not to accept? That is the question.

How do you decide? The best tool you can utilize in your decision-making process is a pro and con list that will invite self-reflection. Write these thoughts on paper, as opposed to keeping them in your head. Now is the time to consider your motives, goals, likes and dislikes, as well as your career path. For many individuals, this deliberation process is easier said than done. To jump start your brainstorming process, consider the following questions.

  • Will the position be advantageous for your career goals and intended path? What are the pros and cons?
  • Hypothetically, if you had another offer, would you still choose this one? More importantly, why would this offer be your choice?
  • Do you need to find a job immediately to ensure your survival and well-being?
  • Will you put forth your best effort in the role?
  • Do your supervisor and coworkers seem like people you could envision yourself spending time with and learning from?
  • Are there any red flags?

Have you written down your answers?

Okay, good.

Accept the offer if…

You are excited about the company or role.

Receiving a job offer is a reason to celebrate, especially if it is a company and role that you could see yourself enjoying. Research the company and role to understand if you could thrive in the environment. If you are enthusiastic about the offer and role, there is no reason to have commitment-phobia.

If you had multiple offers, you would still choose this opportunity.

If you had multiple offers, you would be weighing them against one another. However, receiving a single offer should not change your thought process. Play devil’s advocate and hypothesize. If you had another offer, would you still choose this one? More importantly, what is your rationale that would lead you to accept this offer. What criteria does this position meet compared to your ideal job?

Your survival is dependent on it.

If you absolutely cannot live without an immediate source of income for a few months, your well-being and livelihood are of utmost importance. While you will most likely find a job that is a good fit, life is uncertain, and this process could take a few months.

Decline the offer if…

You aren’t passionate or excited about the role or company.

If you are going to spend your days in the office daydreaming about working for another company, you’d be better off declining the offer than pursuing a role that you are not truly passionate about. You are taking the place of another individual who would have truly dedicated him or herself. If you accept the offer, the company deserves your best effort to excel in the role and will expect you to be excited to be there. It is not fair to you or them if you are pining over what could have been.

You feel like you’re settling.

You never know when a company could reach out or where an opportunity could be waiting. You shouldn’t feel like you’re settling when you accept an offer. You don’t want to begin a new job feeling resentful or disappointed. These feelings are not an equation for success in your role or for your future. If you feel like you would quickly jump ship as soon as you received a better offer, save yourself and the company some time and decline the offer.

There are red flags.

Is there a reason to give you pause like extremely low compensation or company horror stories? Do not ignore red flags simply because you need a job.

You hastily accept in a panic.

The worst possible scenario is that you panic and accept a position in haste. If you don’t think the job is a good match, it may be best to forego it and wait for other possible offers. Some people, especially recent graduates and younger job seekers, forget that finding a job and accepting an offer doesn’t mean the hard work is over. You actually have to work at the company and spend many hours of your day promoting the company’s mission. If you think the role will be a bad fit, it could be worth waiting to find an opportunity that could be a better match.

Accepting a position is not a decision you should make an hour after receiving your offer. At the least, you should dedicate a few days of careful consideration because a new role is a significant step in your life. Be realistic about whether you would be truly happy in the role and whether it would be a step in the right direction for your career. Consulting with trusted mentors or friends for advice can be a useful tactic, but you are the one who will be working at the company, and you should trust your judgement. The only correct answer is the one that is best for you.