When You Should Decline A Job Offer




In a perfect world, you apply for the job of your dreams, get a job offer that’s $5K more than you expected, realize your co-workers are going to be your new BFFs, and find out the company vacation package includes a time-share in St. Bart’s for employees to use.

Unfortunately, that’s not always how it works. Sometimes the job offer isn’t right for you, and if that case it’s better to say decline than accept, even in this tough economy. Taking a position that’s ultimately not a good fit can stress you out, hurt your resume and network if you don’t stay very long, and keep you from finding the job you’re really meant to have.

So how do you know when to say yes to a job offer and when to say no? Check out the job tips below.

Decline If the Money Isn’t Right

This one might seem like a no-brainer, but especially in a down economy, you’d be surprised at how many people accept job offers that don’t come close to meeting their needs. If you’re really desperate for a job, you might be tempted to say, “Sure, I’ll find a way to deal with $15K less than I’m accustomed to making.”

The problem here is that it’s easy to become resentful of your new employer if you don’t feel you’re getting what you’re worth, which can eventually affect your morale and performance. (Not to mention it’s hard to perform well at work if you’re stressed about money all the time.) If the offer is lower than you expected, try negotiating for another number that’s more doable, more vacation time, flex time, etc. If your potential employer isn’t willing to negotiate, it’s time to just say no to the job offer.

Decline If You Don’t Actually Want to Do the Job

The point of a job interview isn’t just to see if the company likes you, it’s to also see if you like the company and the job. Every now and then, you’ll apply for a position you assume will have one set of responsibilities from the job description, and then during the interview process it’s clear the company’s expectations are totally different.

If this happens to you, and you’re not comfortable with the hours, duties, or expectations the hiring manager has for the open position, say no to the job offer. Just because it originally sounded like something you might want doesn’t mean it is – and that’s what the interview process is all about.

Decline If You Don’t Fit With the Company Culture

Maybe the job sounds great and the offer is fantastic. But you’re looking for a business casual, flexible work environment, and your potential employer is more of a ties-and-jacket kind of place. Or maybe you firmly believe in work/life balance, and your new boss is expecting you to start at 60 hours per week.

If this happens, you should seriously consider saying no to the job offer. Company culture is a huge part of your satisfaction levels; at the end of the day, if you don’t fit with the culture, you’re not going to be happy. And that could mean you’re back out on the job market sooner than you planned.

The morale of the story is that if you can’t go into a job feeling good about the package, position, and company culture, you probably won’t last very long. And why waste your time, or anyone else’s, when the job that’s really perfect for you is out there?

Have you ever said no to a job offer? Let us know in the comments below!

Doostang thanks our friends at myFootpath for this post!

About the Author:  Noël Rozny is Web Editor & Content Manager at myFootpath, a career and education resource for students of all ages.


  1. Daryn says

    I haven’t said no to a job offer per se but in the interview process when a what you mentioned – culture, work hours, family work balance, didn’t match, and we addressed it, I always wouldn’t even get an offer to refuse!?

    So what’s the best way to discuss those mismatched concerns. And feel it the flexibility of an employer without turning them off?

  2. Tiffany says

    I have turned down an internal transfer before based upon some of the things you mentioned. I had worked at the company for about 3 years when I was recommended to a position in a different department that would take what I currently did in IT and help turn the Acct department around. The problem was that the company insisted that I take a lateral move and stay at the same pay, even though the workload would increase by 2/3 of where it is now. Matter of fact, staying at the current rate of pay was actually higher than what they would offer someone new so they wanted me to feel like it was a good deal. What the department wanted, did not clearly match up with what they wanted to pay. I was the perfect person for the position b/c they wanted me to assisted with integrating the Acct departments needs with IT processes and services, and they knew that. I was not going to take on more stress for less.

  3. Julian says

    I recently turned down two job offers and two requests to advance to final interview rounds. In some instances, the money simply wasn’t what I expected, while in others I felt the position was a step sideways in my career, not a step forward.

    As stated in the article, I think it’s important to make your next move the “right” move (assuming you are forunate enough to afford being patient in your search). The last thing you want is to be back on the job market shortly after starting a new role.

  4. Jay says

    I took a job based on the compensation package, and disregard all the red flags, now I’m regretting the decision and truly believe it’s hurting my networking opportunities. Thus taking me off course from my career path.

  5. John Lemonis says

    I have said no to a job. They required me to be clean shaven. In todays society it is accepted to have a finely groomed beard or lining. If my having a thin beard has nothing to do with my job functionality, than why should I shave it? I was not even going to be a customer facing employee. I was to be in an office. I wouldve never been happy. I know shaving is not a big deal but Hey thats me and I dont want to have to shave daily just to work for someone else.

  6. Mikki says

    I recently turned down a job offer. The company was offering slightly less than I make now, and was unwilling or unable to negotiate on flex time, vacation time, etc. I even offered to start at the lower salary with a contracted increase annually to meet my goals after meeting performance goals. Although the job looked interesting, it wasn’t worth relocating my family for without a salary increase, so I had to turn it down. I do think that their lack of flexibility in negotiations was a bit of a red flag about working for them, too.

  7. Kathy says

    Having nearly 30 years of management experience, 20 of those in HR I had an interview that was quite promising. My experience and the requirements if the position were a perfect match! Can you imagine my horror when I was extended an offer for nearly $30,000 less than I expected. The prospective employer explained that “with the tough economy we expect to be able to hire at that rate.” Needless to say, I graciously turned them down!

  8. thespanish21god says

    I totally agree with the author for negotiating a better rate of pay for your field and past successes and accomplishments. Recently I went on an interview for an outside sales position selling technology products B-to-B and the base salary was LUDICROUS by todays standards if you adjust for inflation and cost-of-living in New York. To make a long story short, I told him how I felt about the compensation and he must have been impressed with me form the interview, that he left the room to renegotiate another offer and it was still not enough to live on for my current situation – living alone – and I lied and told him I had another offer for a starting base salary of $45K/yr and he again when out of the room to discuss it with his boss and when he came back he finally said ” My Manager is very busy right now – he actually wanted to bring him in to the negotiation process – and said to me call me back if the other offer doesn’t work out.” So I thanked him for the interview and told him I would if things didn’t work out. So it DOES pay to at least ATTEMPT to better your potential starting rate.

  9. says

    I did turn down a job offer while laid off. It was for an assistant controllership at a property management company. The company was roughly about the same size as the one from which I’d been laid off, but I felt the compensation for the position was too low. I’d actually glad I didn’t take it. Though it was about seven months later, and a lot of stress and tears, I am currently working at another company, doing property management. After my probationary period is over, I’ll officially be Director of Real Estate, and will take only a small hit in pay.

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