After a long, challenging job search and a nerve-wracking interview, you're finally holding a formal job offer in your two eager hands. And the feeling couldn't be better. Everyone loves to be validated, and what is a formal job offer if not a strong message that you're needed, valued, and respected? These employers want you on their team, and they're willing to pay you for your effort and commitment.
But before you let that warm, glowy feeling push you into a decision you might regret, pause. Put your ego aside for a moment and focus on practical realities before you sign on the line. If you can answer yes to any of these questions, send your would-be employers a thank you note and respectful message letting them know that you have other plans in mind.
1. Are these employers unwilling or unable to offer the minimum salary you need?
You've researched the marketplace, and you know what your education, your talents, and your efforts are worth. These employers would like to accommodate you—they really, really would—but they just don't have the budget resources available for a long list of reasons/excuses: their new product launch didn't go well; their growth projections aren't meeting expectations; they just can't make it happen right now. But if you stick with them for the next few years and prove yourself, maybe they'll re-evaluate your salary and consider an increase.
These things may be true, but here's a simple fact: their budgetary struggles aren't your problem. If they can pay you what you're worth, they deserve your work. And if they can't, they don't. End of story.
2. Have you noticed at least three red flags?
One red flag may be a fluke. Two is a concern. But three is a serious problem—and it's also a reason to walk away. Whatever you consider a red flag (a racist or sexist remark during the interview, a moldy decrepit office, a three-month silence between the interview and the offer, etc.), respect your established standards and know that you can do better.
3. Does this job come with an insurmountable commuting problem?
A bad commute can ruin your relationship with your job. And a bad job can seriously undermine your quality of life, your health, your relationships, and a long list of other things that most of us consider pretty important. If you know that this two- or three-hour daily commute won't work for you and you just can't afford to move right now, let this offer go. You can and will find another one soon enough.
4. Are you facing strong objection from your spouse or family?
If you have to choose between your marriage and a job you haven't even started yet, your decision will be yours and yours alone. Nobody understands your life better than you do, and it's possible that this marriage is actually holding you back and this offer is the best thing that's ever happened to you. All we can say is this: we've seen lots of people make this choice, and the ones who put their human relationships first usually seem to end up happier.
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