In the December 3, 2019 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter a reader gets a job offer that may deserve a NO.
After months of looking for a job, I finally got an offer using your methods. (Thanks! The interviewer said I was the best candidate she’s talked to in a long time.) But there’s a small matter that concerns me, and it’s not the money. The salary is good. But neither the interviewer nor the HR person would tell me who my boss will be. HR just said I’d be assigned to the manager who needed my skills the most. Then she said they need my answer by end of day tomorrow. Is this a trap? Should I take the job?
It may not be a trap, but it’s a risk in many ways — and not knowing who your boss will be is certainly not a small matter. Your story raises a bigger question. When should you say NO to a job offer?
There are many signals that might turn you away. I won’t tell anyone who needs to pay the rent or put food on the table to turn down a job offer. Take it if you really must, but consider the risks.
Here are three reasons to say NO to a job offer.
1. You don’t meet the manager you’ll be reporting to
You have no idea what you’re getting into if you don’t meet the manager. If the HR department (or a committee) does the hiring, you won’t be able to assess whether you and your new boss are compatible.
This cuts both ways. If the boss doesn’t meet you, it may turn out you’re not as qualified for the position as HR suggested. Your new job might be short-lived.
If the company won’t arrange a one-on-one meeting with the boss, it could mean the boss will shortly be gone. Where does that leave you? Ask to meet your future boss. Reconsider the position if the employer declines the meeting.
2. The job offer is low but you’re promised a raise “soon”
This is how companies seduce reluctant job applicants: with a promise of a raise “soon.” Will the company put the date of the future raise in writing along with the amount? Will it guarantee in writing a performance review in so many months? You have every reason to doubt the good intentions of the employer if it will do neither.
Compensation is what the written job offer says it is. Do not count promises as part of the job offer. Get it in writing.
(There’s another promise to watch out for: stock options. See What are stock options worth in a job offer?)
3. The details of the job are not made clear
It’s an old story: A person takes the job based on the description in the job posting, only to find that’s not the job. The actual work is something else. If all you get are vague answers when you ask about details, you may be accepting a broken job. The company may want you only for a short-term project or — even worse — “to fill head count.”
Ask the employer to list the main tasks you will be doing, and ask for a written definition of what exactly is expected of you after three, six and 12 months on the job. Or consider walking away.
Is the job offer really right for you?
These are just three of many reasons to say NO to a job offer. (See 13 lies employers tell about job offers.)
It’s important to pause when you receive an offer. Don’t get lost in the thrill of success. Take time to consider all the terms of the offer, the company that made it, the manager you’d be working for, the work you’d be doing, and — of course — the compensation. Like the proverbial car shopper, you must be ready to walk away from a deal that’s not really right for you.
Have you ever turned down a job offer? Why? What other reasons can you think of for saying NO? Have you ever accepted a job only to realize that the signs were clear that you should have said NO?