US job losses due to COVID-19 have reached their highest level since the Great Depression. With news like that, you might wonder if it’s foolish to even consider turning down a job offer.
However, it’s still a case-by-case decision. Sometimes it makes sense to settle for a position that seems less than ideal. Other times it’s worth holding out for a job you’ll really love.
How can you decide what to do when an employer presents you with something less than your dream job and they’re waiting for your answer? Try these tips for accepting or rejecting a job offer without derailing your career.
Evaluating a Job Offer:
- Set goals. It’s easier to analyze a job offer when you have a clear vision of your career path. Goals enable you to think long-term and focus on how any position can prepare you for your next step.
- Weigh the evidence. What are the pros and cons? Identify your priorities. Maybe you’re willing to accept a longer commute in exchange for tuition reimbursements that would enable you to complete a degree.
- Consult your feelings. Emotions matter too. That sinking sensation in your stomach could be minor jitters or serious misgivings.
- Talk it over. What would you tell a friend in the same situation? Ask someone you trust for feedback. A third party may be able to see things more objectively.
- Sleep on it. Recruiters and employers may be pressuring you for a quick decision. If possible, give yourself at least one night to mull things over and gather more information if needed.
- Maximize your options. Money troubles are sometimes unavoidable. However, if you can build up your savings, you’ll have more flexibility for extending your job search until you find an opportunity that truly excites you.
Rejecting a Job Offer:
- Choose your medium. Any channel from email to a personal meeting can be appropriate depending on your previous interactions. When in doubt, you may want to reply to a job offer the same way that it was delivered.
- Show appreciation. Express your gratitude. Let them know that you appreciate their time and consideration.
- Use tact. Most companies will want to know why you’re turning them down. You may be able to provide them with helpful feedback without being too critical. It’s okay to keep it brief.
- Be prompt. Avoid causing any further delay. Sending your response in a timely manner will help the company to move ahead with its hiring process.
- Stay in touch. There could still be valuable opportunities in the future. If you see such potential, let the company know that you’re interested in hearing about other developments and invite your contacts to connect on platforms like LinkedIn.
Accepting a Job Offer When You Have Reservations:
- Offer to negotiate. You’re in a stronger position to negotiate when you’re happy to walk away. Ask the company if they can increase the starting salary or allow you to telecommute some days.
- Exceed expectations. Regardless of your feelings, it’s in your interest to deliver high performance. You’ll be more likely to gather impressive achievements for your resume and strengthen your professional network.
- Keep looking. At the same time, fewer employees stick with one company for long these days. Feel free to use your new position as a steppingstone on the way towards other opportunities.
Keep in mind that overnight success is rare. Most careers involve progress and setbacks. Clarifying your criteria will help you to weigh the trade offs when you receive a job offer, so you can decide what works for you.