The good news is: You got the job! The bad news is: You’re uncertain about accepting it.
Your feelings of elation and success may quickly dissipate if the position doesn’t turn out to be right for you – and you wind up back on the job search in a matter of months. This can label you as a job hopper, undermine your self-confidence, and derail your overall career progress.
Think It Through
It’s important to complete a thoughtful analysis of what your life will look like whether or not you accept the first job offer you’ve been given.
- Examine your motivations. Why are you changing jobs or careers? Define what you’re moving toward and/or away from. Clarify what you want more or less of, before making a decision on your next step.
- Paint a clear picture of your target job. Outline all its key characteristics. How will your life improve as a result of finding it – and how important is this difference to you?
- Compare the offer to your criteria. See how it stacks up against what you’ve deemed important. Consider how much financial pressure you’re under to accept – but don’t let this cloud your final decision to the point where accepting would make you miserable.
- Analyze the opportunity on its own merit. Is this a company that you really, really want to work for? Does the culture seem like a good fit? You’ll be spending a large percentage of your waking time at your job, so going there every day must be something you can look forward to with optimism.
To Accept or Not to Accept
There is no single magic formula to tell you whether or not you should accept a job offer. But there are some general rules of thumb. Consider accepting an offer when:
- Family and/or financial circumstances require it and you don’t see an alternative.
- You can gain something substantial from the experience and it moves you closer to your goals.
- You’re confident you can succeed.
- The opportunity is in a promising new area or puts you in the orbit of key contacts and influential leaders.
Consider rejecting it when:
- You have the financial means to hold out a bit longer.
- You’re confident in your job search plan and can honestly sense that it’s just a matter of time before you land your job of first choice.
- Accepting the position could potentially take a toll on you emotionally or physically.
- You sense a bad fit with the job, the people, or your values. Do not ignore these feelings.
Ultimately, listen to your gut. Then move forward purposefully and accept the bad with the good.
If You Decide to Decline
Saying “no” can be difficult and complicated. A lot goes into generating an offer. People have invested their time and may even have gone to bat for you. You don’t want them to think you’ve strung them along for nothing. But if you realize during the interview process that there’s a good chance you won’t accept, let the hiring manager know. Don’t prolong things or accept just for the sake of your ego.
If you’re unsure, continue the process. Express your concerns and dislikes along the way. This will keep dialogue open and could possibly help shape the final offer in your favor.