5 reasons to decline a job offer

When to say no to a job offer

Not all job offers are created equal. Why you might want to think before you say yes to that new role.

Job offers aren’t like busses or Kardashian/Jenner babies, where you know it won’t be long before the next one comes along. Often it takes months of searching, applying, following up and going on interviews before you get to the job offer. So when the job offer does come along, you’d be a fool to turn it down, right? Not necessarily. Here are a few reasons you might reconsider accepting that job offer.

1. Your heart’s not in it. Are you saying yes to the offer because you really want the job? Or because it’s there? If you only recently started your job search, you might want to decline the job offer and hold out for an opportunity that truly excites you. Sure, you may think you can bail out after a few months if a better offer comes along, but that could create a question mark on your resume and hurt your professional reputation. (On the other hand, if the offer is the only nibble you've had after months of searching, accepting it might the way to go. And, hey, even if it’s not your dream job, you might learn to love it.)

2. The company gets a bad rap. Before you accept the offer, look the company up on employer review sites to see what others have to say about working there. Reach out to people in your network who have connections to the company and may be able to offer further insight. Pay attention to turnover rates, too. While a certain level of employee turnover is normal, exceptionally high turnover can be an indication of bigger problems within the organization – from poor management to lack of advancement opportunities to a toxic culture.

3. The culture isn’t a fit. Even if the culture isn’t toxic, it might not be the best fit for you. When evaluating a prospective employer, it’s important to consider the work environment and how it matches your own working style and preferences. If, for example, you prefer to work independently, you might be frustrated in a company that places a high value on collaboration. Or maybe you do your best work when you can be flexible with your work day; thus, you probably won’t be too happy at a company where “9 to 5” is strictly enforced.

4. The company’s future is iffy. As long as you’re researching the company, it’s also important to pay attention to its standing in the marketplace. Are stock prices going down? Is there talk of a merger? Have there been major changes in leadership in the past several months? These could all be signs the company is in financial trouble, so proceed with caution.

5. There’s no upward mobility. Before you accept the job, think about where you want to be in five or 10 years, career-wise, and if and how the company can help you get there. Make sure you understand the advancement, training and development opportunities your prospective employer will provide. If the potential for advancement is as limited as a “Real Housewives” star’s singing abilities, you might be better off declining the job offer and continuing your search.

Bottom line: When in doubt, speak up

Don't hesitate to talk to the hiring manager or the recruiter you’ve been working with about any second thoughts you’re having. If you don’t have the information you need to make a fully informed decision, you’re not doing yourself - or your potential employer - any favors. If the company values you enough to have made you an offer, they will be happy to address any questions or concerns you still have. If compensation is a concern, for example, the company may be willing to negotiate a better salary.

Accepting the job offer? Brush up your negotiating skills.