So you just got a job offer — the one thing every job seeker dreams of hearing — and your gut is telling you it’s not the job you want. But so far you haven’t gotten that other offer you DO want. Maybe you can wait, but maybe you can’t … or maybe you just aren’t sure. What should you do?
Should you hang tough and wait for the offer you’ve been hoping for? Should you take the job anyway, since life isn’t always perfect and sometimes you really do need to compromise? And are there ways to keep your bridges open even if you say “no” to the offer?
First make sure you consider the offer you got carefully
Sometimes what sounds good on paper isn’t all it seems to be. And the same is true about jobs that don’t sound so exciting on paper. You might be surprised by what’s really behind the curtain. So here are some articles that offer additional perspective and advice on how to decide:
Although there may be no doubt in your mind about whether you want a job, this is the time to do some snooping and hard thinking even for what seems like a sure thing. I’ve had dream jobs that turned out to be nothing but gloss — and vice versa.
What if you’re waiting to hear from your first choice job
Sometimes, waiting is the right decision for you, especially if you seem to be a finalist. But remember that even a strong maybe could still turn out to be a “no” – so you really need to think about how a “no” will feel, and if it’s truly worth it to you to let a second-choice job go.
Turning down a so-so job can be a smart move in many cases, assuming you can survive without the “job in the hand”. But you also have to be prepared to jump right back into a determined job search if you wind up with nothing after taking a chance on your dream job.
If you decide it’s right to turn the job down
So after all that, let’s assume you know in your heart that you need to let this job offer go. Well, since you’re going to turn down the job anyway, it might be worth asking to speak with the hiring manager (or the person you connected with most) and explaining honestly why you’re turning it down.
It could even spark a discussion of added elements you might want too see in the position you were offered or other positions / opportunities you might not know about. You have nothing to lose if you’re letting it go anyway, and you leave them knowing what you really want, just in case.
Not only are you opening doors to a possible re-write of the current job to match you better, but you are helping them remember to think of you again should something more suitable turn up. A good back-up plan, just in case.
Now about that other job you really want…
If you do decide that turning down the 2nd-choice job is best for you and your career, make sure to let the HR manager for the job you want know how much it means to you. Reaffirm your strong interest, ask if there’s anything else you can provide, and also ask if you may check in every now and then.
To follow up, send a brief, pleasant note every 3 to 4 weeks (unless they indicate otherwise), always asking if it’s ok to continue to keep in touch. Remember to add any new skills, experience, or accomplishments acquired in the interim that they might be interested in.
And if you do wind up taking the offer-in-hand for whatever reason, be sure to stay in touch with the company you really want anyway. You never know!
ABOUT WAITING FOR ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE: Unless you have a guarantee that the position will still be there after restructuring (and there are no guarantees here), organizational change can take unexpected turns. The position may still be there, it may change in some way (for better or worse), and it may even disappear. And if they advise you that it will take more time, that can be weeks, months or even a great deal longer.
Some more posts to help you while waiting