In a perfect world, no, you should not accept a job offer you don’t truly want. However, life is messy and sometimes that may be the only option to get to where we want to go. There is absolutely no shame in accepting a job you don’t really want because it either gives you experience or compensation you need, but there is also no shame in turning down a job offer for a job you don’t want. While this can be a tricky situation, below are a few tips to keep in mind when deciding if you should accept a job you don’t really want.
When you should accept a job you don’t really want:
If you really need it.
Most people have worked a job they weren’t entirely thrilled about, whether it was their first paying job in high school or a job that served as a stepping stone to the job they really wanted. Needing the money, benefits, or any other incentives a job you don’t really want might offer are reasons in itself to accept the opportunity, even if you’re hoping it’s only temporary. Not only does it provide you with what you need, but this job can give you working experience. Any job you work can leave you with positive experience that can help enrich your professional career later on, so consider different ways this job can be impactful in your professional journey.
If it’s the stepping stone to a job you do want.
If your dream job is to become a CEO of a major company, you can’t get there the day after your college graduation. So, every job you take theoretically will not be what you really want. However, if you are offered a job with a clear path of opportunities to get you to where you want to go, take the job! With a lack of experience, you don’t have much room to be picky. Big professional aspirations are certainly attainable, but you need to have a clear understanding of what kind of experience you need to have prior to being qualified for your dream job. Accepting a lower position job in the field you aspire to work in can open up the correct experience to forge a path to your dream job, so don’t dismiss a job you don’t want too quickly if you can see it opening doors to a future position you do want.
When you shouldn’t accept a job you don’t really want:
If you have the security to turn down a job offer you don’t really want, there is no shame in being picky until the right one comes along. Here are a few reasons you may want to turn down a job offer you don’t really want.
If the company culture doesn’t match.
If you go through rounds of interviews for a job description you think would work well and by the end you just feel like you would not fit in well with the culture you’ve seen throughout those interviews, it’s okay to turn the offer down and communicate that concern with your interviewer. If you don’t see a good cultural fit from the beginning, it’s better to explain this reason you decline the job now rather than accepting the job and leaving quickly after.
If you don’t see an opportunity for professional development.
If you’re applying for entry level positions, chances are that you’re hoping to develop professionally and maybe even eventually be promoted in the future to a more advanced role. If during your interviews you discover that either the company does not frequently promote these positions or has little to no room for development, it’s okay to communicate this concern with the hiring manager as a reason to decline a job offer.
If the compensation or benefits are not what you expected.
Differing expectations in regards to compensation and benefits is a reason that many job offers are declined. Since you usually won’t know the details of your salary or benefits until the job offer is made to you, it’s not unusual for you to decline the offer for this reason. If you are honest with the hiring manager about what your expectations were for the salary and benefits of the job in contrast to the reality, they should be understanding… and might even be able to make adjustments to accommodate your needs!
Deciding whether to accept a job position you don’t really want can be tough but doesn’t need to be an impossible decision. Go into the interview process knowing what you are looking for in a job and be as honest as possible to your interviewer from the beginning. Keep in mind that a lot of work goes into offering a candidate a job, so be respectful and grateful for the time the company gave you and the opportunities they offer. This way, whether you decide to decline the position or not, you don’t leave the employer thinking they wasted their time.
Do you have any tips or stories on deciding to accept a job you don’t really want? Let us know in the comments!