As a Job Seeker, You Need to Say ‘No’ to Bad Fits

The following advice may have been given to you by a family member or a well-meaning friend: Stop waiting for better opportunities. The one you have in front of you is the best opportunity.

Most job seekers play it safe and settle for jobs that are not a good fit. Rather than spending an extra month or two searching for a job, they accept the first job offer they receive to ease their current pain, which often leads to long-term pain.

After being unemployed for some time or anxious to leave your current job, taking the first job offer you receive is understandable. After all, who knows when the next job offer will come along?

However, accepting a job offer just because it is an offer may not be your best move. Regardless of your current employment situation, there are times when you should consider turning down a job offer.

1. The compensation is not right.

Obviously, you want to make ends meet. Ideally, your income should cover more than your bills. If the salary offered is insufficient to cover your basic expenses and you have not been able to negotiate a higher salary, you should walk away.

Do not become one of those employees who constantly complain about their salary, the salary they agreed to when they voluntarily accepted the position.

Of course, there are exceptions, such as if the salary is enough to cover your expenses—know what this number is—and you are committed to continue looking for a better-paying job. Ensure the salary you are being offered aligns with your lifestyle and financial situation. Ask yourself if your salary expectations are realistic, given your current skills, experience, and local job market.

2. The job does not offer what you want.

Job seekers have different “must-haves.” It could be working remotely a few times a week (hybrid), having flexible hours, three weeks of paid vacation, or medical and dental benefits. Whatever it is, if your “must-haves” are not in the job offer, consider turning it down.

Is there such a thing as a “perfect job offer”? Of course not. Compare your “must-haves” with what you would be trading off. (e.g., receiving a higher salary but working full-time on-site)

3. The job duties and expectations are vague.

A job title will tell you some things, but not everything, about the job. If you have gone through the entire interview process and still do not know what the job entails, especially what is expected, either find out more information or decline the job.

Never accept a “mystery” job. For starters, there is the possibility, a good possibility, that what you thought you would do and what you actually do differ so much that you end up unhappy. Worse, because you did not understand what the job entailed, you may be asked to do things you are not comfortable with or are not qualified to do. 

4. The company is a revolving door.

All companies experience turnover, regardless of their leadership team. According to Mercer, one of the largest sources of employer-reported data, Canada’s average voluntary turnover rate in 2022 was 15.5%.

While you can ask your interviewer about the company’s turnover rate, you probably will not get specifics. Instead, ask why the position is open. Was the person promoted within the company? Did they leave for greener pastures? Is this a newly created role?

My best advice: Find former employees on LinkedIn or via your network and talk to them.

5. The company has a bad reputation.

No company is perfect. There will always be at least one former employee who says the company “sucks, hates its employees, and destroys your soul.”

However, pay attention if multiple former employees say the company is a bad employer. It could be that there are problems in one department with one manager. On the other hand, the complaints could indicate a company-wide problem, tricking down from the C-suites.

Do more than just search the Internet and social media. As I had mentioned, find former employees on LinkedIn or via your network and talk to them. As well, read up on the company in trade publications and if you can get your hands on their latest annual report. 

6. Your gut is telling you to think twice.

Job seekers rarely listen to their gut, which is something they should do. 

During your interview, did you get a bad feeling? Did everyone at the company seem happy and content, or did you get negative vibes? Did it feel like your interviewer(s) were leaving out key details or hiding something during the hiring process? A few years back, I turned down a job that ticked all my boxes because when I asked if I could meet the team I would be managing, I was told my request would be against their hiring process. To me, this was a red flag.

Always trust your gut. If you have a bad feeling or something seems “off,” you are probably right and should turn down the job offer. Your gut is telling you that this is not the place for you.

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Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers “unsweetened” job search advice. You can send Nick your questions to artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

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