Getting a job offer is always exciting. It means your skills and experience are valued and in demand, and you’re well on your way to growing your career into your dream job.
But, just because a potential employer makes you an offer doesn’t mean you should take it.
Accepting job offers that have below-average salaries, fewer benefits, and longer hours won’t contribute positively to your financial or professional advancement. Sometimes, it’s best to decline an offer and continue on with your job search.
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Financial Reasons to Decline a Job Offer
There are many reasons you could be searching for a new job. Maybe you’re a recent grad looking for your first official role, or maybe you’re an experienced professional craving career advancement through a higher salary or senior job title.
Whatever the reason, you shouldn’t accept just any offer that comes your way. Consider declining a job offer when:
1. The Salary Is Too Low
Salary is a major component of every job offer. It’s important for hiring managers and recruiters to make competitive offers that entice top talent. If they can’t or won’t, consider it a red flag.
Job offers that come in at the same salary or less than what you’re currently making won’t do anything for your financial freedom. Accepting less money will make your budget even tighter, causing you to cut back on spending and contribute less to your savings or paying off debt.
Research the average salary for your position and location in advance using LinkedIn or Salary.com so that you understand your professional value. Knowing what you’re worth will also come in handy if you choose to negotiate your compensation.
Consider other financial perks that the employer offers, such as better benefits, flexible work hours, or structured advancement. If the lower salary still doesn’t make sense as part of the bigger picture, continue your search until you find an employer that seems like a better fit.
2. There Are Few Perks and Benefits
Salary isn’t the only financial aspect of a job offer. Other perks and benefits are worth considering as well, like personal time off, health insurance, remote work, performance bonuses, company share plans, and 401(k) plans.
Before accepting a job offer, ask yourself:
- Which benefits do I use most from my current employer?
- Which perks do I value most?
- How do the benefits from a prospective employer compare to the ones I have now?
- What are my current job benefits worth?
- How are my benefits helping me to save money and how much?
Even with a higher salary, fewer perks and benefits in a new position can end up costing you more out of pocket.
For example, if you have a day care allowance in your current position but a potential employer doesn’t offer anything comparable, you’ll need to cover the cost of child care yourself.
Carefully consider not just the salary difference in a new job offer, but how the perks and benefits compare as well. On the surface, an offer may seem higher than what you’re making now, but once the added costs in missing benefits are pared away you may be left with less than you expected.
3. They Want More Work for Comparable Pay
Accepting a job offer that expects more work out of you for comparable pay can lead to burnout, poor work-life balance, and dissatisfaction.
If a potential employer expects you to travel more, work longer hours, or be available on evenings and weekends, you need to think about how that will affect your happiness and quality of life.
Unless they’re willing to pay you more for the extra work you’re putting in, it’s important to compare the heavier workload to your current priorities. For example, if your career goals are front and center and the additional hours will help you to advance more quickly, then this could be the right offer for you.
However, if family time, hobbies, or flexibility are at the forefront of what’s important to you, this role may not be a fit.
4. It’s Underhanded
Have you ever received a lowball offer after a job interview, then when you declined, been offered a higher amount? It happens all the time, and it’s usually from questionable employers.
If an offer you receive is underhanded, or you feel like a prospective boss is trying to take advantage of you, steer clear.
You should be paid what you’re worth based on your skills, experience level, and location. A lowball offer sets a bad precedent for the relationship you’ll have with a hiring manager or boss and says a lot about the work environment you’ll be a part of.
The chances of you being treated fairly as an employee are slim if the company isn’t even willing to make you a respectable offer in the first place.
5. Your Cost of Living Will Increase
Sometimes a job offer sounds great until you look into how much your costs will increase. New jobs sometimes come with additional expenses such as a longer commute, parking fees, or a move to a pricier location.
For example, if you currently work remotely, you don’t have to worry as much about where you live as long as you have Internet access. This allows you to live in the suburbs or a rural area as opposed to within the closest city, saving you money on property taxes and gas or public transit costs.
Taking a job that requires you to either work in-office or live in the same city could increase your expenses not just in getting to work or living in a costly property, but also for essentials like utilities and food, depending on where you were living before.
Regardless of how high the salary is, evaluate the costs associated with a new job offer before accepting it, including how affordable the city you’d be moving to is. You may find that you’re no better off financially than you were in your previous position.
6. There’s No Advancement
No one wants to wind up at a dead-end job. If the interview process led you to believe that promotions will be few and far between, you need to review your job offer with careful consideration.
No advancement typically means limited salary increases, fewer title changes, and little room for future opportunities within the company. It can also mean that your next move will be horizontal, stunting your career growth even once you move to a new employer.
Get a feel for growth opportunities during the hiring process by asking pointed questions about the role and opportunities for advancement. If it seems like the only way you’ll ever get ahead is if someone else quits or retires, it may not be the right job for you.
7. You Have a Better Offer
If there’s a better job opportunity on the table, take it. You’ve likely interviewed a handful of positions during your job search, and if you happen to get multiple offers, you may have to send rejection letters to more than one hiring manager.
Take your time and review each offer to see which is the best fit for your career goals, lifestyle, and financial situation. Accept the offer that makes the most sense for you and decline the rest.
8. The Company Is in Poor Financial Health
It can be hard to tell during interviews what a company’s finances truly look like, but pay attention to these red flags, which can indicate that they’re experiencing financial instability:
- They can’t meet the average salary for your position
- They’re only hiring backfill positions instead of growth positions
- Their stock price has experienced a significant dip
- They’ve had mass layoffs in the recent past
- They don’t have good answers to your questions about sales growth or profitability
- They’re a brand new startup with no investors and have yet to prove their product or service
While these issues don’t always mean a company is struggling financially, they are worth paying attention to. If you leave your current employer for another job, you want job security and a paycheck you can rely on.
A company that’s barely staying afloat won’t be able to guarantee either of those things to you.
From poor company reviews and lack of flexibility to a lower salary or scant benefits, there are many different possible reasons to turn down a job offer. Before you quit your job to take a new position, make sure to consider whether the offer is truly as good as it seems.
After all, your financial stability, career growth, and job satisfaction are directly impacted by the company you work for and the role you fill.
If you’re confident a job offer is a great match, accept it. But if it doesn’t feel like the right fit for you, decline it and keep searching for a better opportunity.