Not every job you’ll get an offer for will be your dream job, unfortunately. We can’t always be picky about every opportunity that comes our way. Sometimes we need the money, and sometimes we need to gain experience so we can get that dream job down the road. But even with these truths, there are plenty of good reasons to decline a job offer.
We’ve previously covered red flags to watch out for in job descriptions, but things won’t always be readily apparent, and a good interview won’t always mean a good workplace. With any job offer, you’ll need to trust your gut on whether it’s the right fit for you. With a little help from the experts, we look into four of the most common and powerful reasons to decline a job offer.
The offering isn’t good
Ultimately, we work so that we can live our lives. We hope you can find a job that feels like a calling, but even the people with the best work-life balance need to eat. Generally, if a job is paying below market value or not willing to provide what you’re worth, you won’t want that job.
Monster’s Mark Swartz says that although there are sometimes good reasons to take a pay cut, it isn’t ideal. And it isn’t just salary, but the job title, the benefits package, and potential vacation time all fall under this category. If you feel you didn’t get what you deserved, it might be a while before you can schedule a change. This can lead to anger and resentment, making the position even worse.
Thankfully, this is something that can be fixed or acknowledged early in your interview process according to Indeed. Despite what others might say, don’t be afraid to ask about salary early in the process. If it’s not to your liking, you have options to fix things before declining the offer, including:
- Try to negotiate the compensation package with the prospective employer
- Request that a salary review is done a few months into the job potentially after probation
- Decide if the employee benefits on offer compensate for the lack of salary
The people aren’t great
But money isn’t a cure-all for everything, and plenty have left jobs that paid well that were otherwise unpleasant. If your bosses or coworkers don’t seem up to par, you may want to save yourself the headache and decline.
Jen Hubley Luckwaldt mentions the old adage “Workers don’t quit companies. They quit managers.” Studies consistently back this up, with bad bosses being a common reason for employee departures. Your direct supervisor should be one of the people in your interviews, so pay close attention to them. What are they like, and how do they describe their work style? Luckwaldt says that while you won’t be able to tell everything about them in one quick meeting, you should be able to get a good picture of whether you can work with them or not.
Your potential coworkers can be a great clue as well. What is the energy like in the office? Do people seem engaged with one another? Pay attention to body language and try to pick up on any clues you can.
“If the job is in Engineering, for example, it matters who is running Manufacturing and who is running Sales. If these latter managers are not competent, what the Engineering team designs may not be fully realized as viable products, and Sales may not be able to sell them.” Nick Corcodilos
The company isn’t a good fit
Most companies have good people, but if the culture isn’t great, it will trickle down. People want value in their jobs, and if a culture seems off or the company appears to be failing, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any value.
If you found yourself getting ghosted or the communication felt poor during the interview process, that’s a bad sign. The mission statement might not be something you agree with, or you might have different priorities. And sometimes, what works for one person doesn’t for another. A fast-paced office might be the dream to some and a nightmare to others. The company might not be bad—just not right for you. And that’s okay!
Beyond culture, there are many other signs a company might not be right for you. Beth Braccio Hering lists a revolving door of employees, a bad reputation, and no clear path to advancements as signs the company isn’t doing things right. Meanwhile, Ask The Headhunter’s Nick Corcodilos suggests looking up the company’s finances and trying to talk about them in the interview. It won’t do you much good to accept an offer if the company is close to bankruptcy!
The quality of life is poor
Sometimes a job might look fine on paper, but enough little things add up, and the job might be a poor fit for your lifestyle.
One of the most common reasons to decline a job is because of the commute. Maybe the job is amazing, but it’s just too far away to reliably get there or your kid’s school is in the complete opposite direction. You’ll have to ask yourself if it’s worth it.
“Getting to and from work should not be the most exhausting part of your day. If it is, you’ll arrive to your job with frayed nerves and get home in a bad mood.” Mark Swartz
Another example is if you can’t agree on remote or hybrid work model. If you’re looking for some sort of balance and the employer isn’t offering what you need, it’s okay to look elsewhere.
In the long run, it’s better to decline a bad job offer than to accept and quit shortly after. Constant quitting can affect your pay grade and career trajectory down the road. If the money, the coworkers, the company culture, and the effects to your quality of life seem poor, don’t feel bad about declining an offer. We hope that knowing there are good reasons not to accept a job and knowing your worth as an employee can help steer you to a job you’re excited about, not just one that pays the bills!