How to Decide Whether To Accept Or Turn Down A Job Offer

Posted January 29, 2020, by Elesha

You got the job offer! Congratulations are in order! Or, are they? 

Whether the salary wasn’t what you wanted or you just had a knot in your stomach because something was quite right, there’s a reason you’re holding off popping the celebratory champers.

Didn’t respond to the job offer with a resounding “YES”? Don’t fret, here’s how you can decide whether to accept or turn down a  job offer. 

Is The Job Offer Right For You? 4 Questions To Ask Yourself 

How does this fit into my big picture career goals?

It’s exciting to get a job offer, but don’t lose sight of your short and long-term professional goals.

It should be clear how the position will help you grow your skills and deepen your expertise in your chosen field.

Will the on-the-job training or professional development on offer get you to where you want to be five years from now?

You’ll also want to consider if there’s the opportunity to work your way up to the position you’d like to have down the road if you stay with that employer.  

What does the remuneration package contribute to my financial and personal needs?

This might be your dream job on paper, but will paying the bills turn into a nightmare if you take the 7k pay cut? 

You also need to take into account the benefits of the total package, not just the weekly paycheck, which could include the opportunity for a bonus, subsidised gym membership or healthcare benefits, overtime, or a range on non-cash incentives. 

How much do you really need to earn to be happy? Think about your personal financial goals and if / how the new position will support them? Are you going to be able to take an overseas trip each year or hit the goal of paying off your mortgage early with the salary you’re set to receive?

It’s much easier to negotiate on your salary package before you start the job than it will be down the line.

If there’s something you’d like to negotiate on, speak up now. 

Am I going to be happy in this environment?

Does the workplace culture seem right? Who you work with and the physical environment you work in can have a huge impact on your day to day wellbeing. 

You might be happy as a clam with the actual day-to-day tasks of the role and the pay; but what about the team culture? What about the office space?

No matter how much you enjoy your work, if you’re surrounded by a toxic culture or working 10 hour days in a depressing physical environment this will suck the joy out of a job. 

Wondering how you can find out more about a company culture BEFORE you accept the job? Check out our tips here! 

Is there a lifestyle sacrifice I’ll need to make or a benefit I’ll gain by taking the offer?

You’re LOVING the sound of your potential salary but getting to your new office location is going to add an hour extra travel time into your day. How do you feel about being stuck in peak-hour every day?

Is there much domestic or overseas travel involved? Sure it sounds exciting, but if you’re not a great flyer or have family commitmets, regular travel and time out of your routine may not be feasible. 

Or, maybe the salary falls a little short of what you were hoping for but you’ll be able to work remotely 1 day a week plus there’s a childminding centre in the building.

You need to weigh up the impact of accepting the job will have on your lifestyle. 

Warning Signs You Should Not Accept A Job Offer 

You’re not exactly sure what it is you’ll be doing – even after the interview!

If the interviewer wasn’t able to clearly communicate with you exactly what you’d be doing day-to-day, it’s not a good sign.

The next step, of course, is to ask for more clarity but if you still feel the explanation is ambiguous, it could be your cue to say “Thanks, but no thanks.”

The employer has a high staff turn over

High staff turnover is often the result of the way a company or team operates – not in a good way!

Have you seen this role pop up on job search sites several times over the last year? Ask what happened to the two people in the position before you, did they move on to other roles in the organisation or leave? How long were they there for? These questions will give you a clue to the turnover rate. 

The work-life balance isn’t the right fit for you

It became clear in the interview process that getting ahead in the organisation meant late nights and lots of overtime.

Meanwhile, you’re looking to clock out on time most days to spend time with family and personal activities. This is a red flag the role isn’t right for you. 

Your stomach is in knots 

Never underestimate your gut instinct – if you left the interview with a knot in your stomach and actually hoped you wouldn’t be offered the job, it isn’t the role you’ve been waiting for. Back to the job hunt!

How To Turn Down A Job Offer (The Right Way!)

You blitzed the interview process and landed the job offer but deep down you know it just isn’t the right fit for you.

It feels awkward to get to this stage and turn the offer down but it’s worse to get stuck in a job you know isn’t right for you. 

Once you’ve decided that you’re not going to accept the offer, get in touch with the employer or recruitment agency – preferably via phone – and let them know right away. 

Calling is more awkward than emailing but the more gracious thing to do is speak directly with the person who would have been your manager, if possible. (If you do opt to send an email to turn down the job offer then check out this handy template)

If you have a clear reason for turning down the role that isn’t personal, for example, the salary is too low, you can explain that. 

Or if the reason for turning it down is more to do with reservations about the team culture or manager you can say something along the lines of  –

“Thanks so much for the offer, but after a lot of thought, I’ve decided to decline as I don’t feel the role is exactly the right fit for me.”

This approach works for changing your mind after accepting a job offer too, with emphasis on doing it as quickly as possible before your official start date. Don’t be a surprise no-show on what was supposed to be your first day! 


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