Wait! Before You Accept That Job Offer!

When you’re seeking a new job, the last thing you want is to accept a position that’s worse than one you left, or that you’d rather be unemployed than have.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to decrease that chance. Here are some things to consider:

  • Does market research reveal the salary is within fair market value for the responsibilities? Not the title — the actual responsibilities you’ll have.
  • Have they communicated all benefits? If not, hold on acceptance until you know the full picture.
  • Do you have an offer in writing? I once accepted a verbal counteroffer of promotion from my employer and turned down the other job that was two pay grades higher. The promotion had been promised without first seeking higher up approval. I never received it.
  • Have you discussed the offer with a trusted adviser? Our judgment can be impaired when we’re eager to move from a current role, or move on from being unemployed. Seek counsel from an objective person.
  • Is the salary too high? Inflated salary can be a red flag. Years ago I accepted a job that was paying $20,000 above other comparable jobs in the area. Two words: crazy town. Don’t be afraid to ask why the salary is higher than other positions to see how they answer. Also, talk to people who work there and research the culture on glassdoor.com. Yes, you have to take some online reviews with a grain of salt, but you want to look for recurring themes.
  • Are the responsibilities of the job something you can picture yourself doing every day without it putting a grimace on your face?
  • Is your partner supportive of you accepting the position?
  • Do you have a solid understanding of the reporting relationships, hours of work required each week, amount of travel, dress code, ability to telecommute, schedule flexibility, and the culture and personality of your manager and key people you’ll be working closely with?
  • Is the position a dead end, or is there a career path?
  • Is the company and position aligned to your values? Working in an environment that goes against your values will be soul-crushing.
  • Will the position harm your resume? e.g. Is it a step down from your last role? If so, you’ll have to provide a plausible reason why you opted for this role in your next job search. Or, is the reputation of the company one that could reflect poorly on you?
  • Did you have any bad vibes about the hiring manager or team members? Don’t ignore your instincts. Bad co-workers or managers can make your daily work life unbearable. If they aren’t putting their best foot forward in the interview process, it’s not going to get better once you’re on the team.
  • How well does the position match your overall needs?
  • How well do you truly match the overall needs of the employer?

If after going through this process you determine the answer is “no” you’ll want to be quick to communicate your decision.  You should be sincere and to the point. Here’s an example:

Dear Niam,                                                      

Thank you for extending an offer for the Project Manager position at Acme company. After going through the process, I’ve become aware the position will not afford the direct contact with external clients I am seeking. Perhaps another opportunity that is a strong fit for us both will surface in the future. I appreciate your time investment.

Best regards,


Declining an offer can be hard, but if it’s not right you’ll be looking for a new job in no time, either by your hand, or your employer’s.

All the best to you!​

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