It's job hunting season for those fresh out of college, so here is, what I would hope is, helpful info for anyone that's too eager to start working. When you're looking for a job and you hear those two magic words, "you're hired!" you drop everything and sign on the dotted line, usually. A part of looking for the right job is also knowing when to turn down a job as well. I've turned down jobs in the past for various reasons and it's awkward, I'll say that. But sometimes it's necessary. Especially if you're going to be working there 5 days a week for the next couple of years. That's a big chunk of your life on the line there. Everyone has their own reasons for turning down a job, and the following are a few of my own. Important note though, if you need a job, then take it, and take it fast.
Is The Offer Too Low?
Happens all the time, because 9 out of 10 times, you'll probably take the job anyway regardless of pay, with the promise of more money in a year or so. And let's be honest, in a year or so, no one's going to bring it up. You know what you're worth and you should stick to it. If that company couldn't afford you, they would not be calling you back. I've had friends turn down jobs where they thought they were being low balled, only to get a call a few days later saying they got a deal.
Many times companies rush you to sign paperwork as fast as possible and they mention your salary in passing in the hopes that you don't have time to think about it. I've had companies email me paperwork saying that I had 1 hour to sign it, because "reasons". And I did, because I needed the job. But now with several years more experience, I have a fairly good idea how much companies are paying and how much I'm willing to charge for my work.
One of the best parts about going to an interview is that you get a glimpse of what the company is like. Are there 20 employees in the front smoking cigarettes? That could be a warning sign. Are there managers firing people in the background? Also a potential red flag. Do you already hate your manager without even having worked a day? You get the idea.
I once got a job offer under the condition that I find a reference from the first company that I ever worked for. That company was sold off to another country and all the employees scattered around the globe, so no, I could not have done that. Everyday for a week the hiring manager called me telling me I needed this. So I kindly called back and told them thanks for the offer, but I'll be looking elsewhere. If this is what it was like before I even worked a day, then I can imagine how it would have gone after a week there.
During an interview once, the sole developer made an appearance looking sleepless and zombie like. He stated how they could really use the help and working weekends for months wasn't too fun. Way to sell my friend...
Because A Better Job Came Up
Say you already accepted a job offer and you get that call an hour later from that one company that you were hoping you would get. This one happened to me when I was starting off and it's probably the most awkward scenario. I got a job offer for a 6 month contract at a very recognizable company which I accepted because I needed a job, because food. The very next day I got a job offer for a full time job with full benefits at double the pay. That wasn't a difficult choice to make really, but I had already verbally accepted the first job.
You can be honest with the first employer as they probably won't match the new salary. I was honest and received a congratulations and sorry to hear you won't be joining the team. There was no way they were going to give me full time and double my salary. And this way you don't leave off on the wrong foot. Maybe years later you might apply again, and you don't want to be that guy that just never showed up or returned their calls.
Because You Don't Want To Drive 5 Hours Per Day!!
That was me during my first job hunt. I drove 2.5 hours to the company, did a fairly okay job, and when asked if the driving distance was okay, I replied with a "couldn't be better sir!". Oh, how we lie to ourselves. That was a total of 5 hours driving for the day. At 8 hours of sleep, and 8 hours of work, and 5 hours of work, that would have left me with 3 hours per day to live life. I got the job, and almost signed on the dotted line immediately, but had to decline the offer in the end after talking it over with friends and family. Was the company happy? Nope, not one bit, but It was the right choice definitely.
At the end of the day it's important to note that wherever you choose to work will become a part of your life for a while. It will be where you mainly socialize, problem solve, drive to and sleep when no one is watching. So be sure that you're paid fairly what you think your work is worth, that you're comfortable being there for most of your awake day and that you're not sacrificing too much of your own personal life in exchange. Getting a paycheck is great, but getting it for doing something you enjoy is always better.
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Walter G. is a software engineer, startup co-founder, former CTO of several tech companies and currently teaches programming for a coding bootcamp. He has been blogging for the past 5 years and is an avid BMX rider, bio-hacker
and performance enthusiast.