5 Reasons to Say No to a Job


28 April,2014

The whole point of any job search is to get a job — especially if you are unemployed or underemployed. With the current job market in the United States still slow and depressing, it makes sense to do what you can to make the most of your employment situation, and if you are offered a job, instinct says that you should accept it. As quickly as possible.

However, there are times when it’s better to say no to a job. Turning a job down might seem counterintuitive, and counterproductive, but it does make sense in some cases. Here are 5 reasons to say no to a job:

  1. Something Seems Shady

    The last thing you want to do is get involved with a company that could soon see legal problems or that appears to have ethics issues. Pay attention. Does something seem shady when you go in? If it looks as though you could end up in trouble with the law, or if you are uncomfortable with some of the practices of the company, or if you are being asked to do something you aren’t sure is completely legal or ethical, it might make more sense to turn down the job. You don’t want to work in an environment that you don’t agree with.

  2. Your Potential Boss Seems Like a Bad One

    As you go through your interview, pay attention to the way the boss treats you, as well as how s/he treats others in the company — particularly inferiors. You can tell a lot about someone by how they treat those over whom they have some authority. If the potential boss seems friendly enough to you, and is positively “sucking up” to his or her bosses, but is rude or dismissive of those “below” him or her, that’s a sign that you are going to have a terrible work experience. Pay attention to the red flags that indicate the boss might be a bad boss, and consider turning down the job.

  3. The Job Description Keeps Changing

    One of the jobs my husband applied for not too long ago seemed like a perfect fit. However, once he flew out for the interview, he was informed that the job description had changed. The new description didn’t fit with my husband’s strengths and experiences. If you find yourself interviewing for a job that is different to what was advertised, or if two different supervisors have differing visions of your position, that could be a sign to move on. You don’t want to be stuck trying to figure out what to do at a company that clearly doesn’t have good communication.

  4. Your Work-Life Balance Would Be Seriously Impacted

    Does it look like you’re going to have to work late every night? Is there a lot of travel involved? Is the commute a killer? All of these are indications that your work-life balance could be seriously off if you take the job. While you will likely have to work extra hours in nearly any job at some point, you want to be on alert for signs that it will be a constant stream of overwork. It’s one thing to work overtime one or two weeks before an important deadline. It’s another thing altogether to be working 70 hours a week all the time. If it’s important for you to have time with your family, and you are concerned about work-life balance, consider turning down the job.

  5. You Realize You Can’t Do the Work Well

    If you realize that you can’t do a good job, and that you’re underqualified, you might want to decline. You don’t want to oversell yourself, only to fall flat once you start.

    The reality, of course, is that you might need the job to survive. If that is the case, and you accept a job offer that you aren’t sure about, keep looking for another job, or working on your own side business efforts. Carefully consider what you want from a job, and look for that if you can. And, in the meantime, if you have to settle in order to meet your family’s needs, take what you can get and push forward.

It’s a tough economy out there, but you can still work toward a better job, even if you have to accept something inferior for a short time.