Red Flags: When to Say “No” to a Job Offer

March 03, 2011 11:07 AM | Anonymous

Red Flags: When to Say “No” to a Job Offer

If you’ve been searching for work for a while, it can be tempting to accept the first job offer that comes your way. But there are times when passing up an opportunity is the best choice – both for your professional reputation, and your sanity. Here are some “red flags” that indicate you should look further before you leap to a new position:

Sagging morale. If your prospective employers’ staff members appear about as enthusiastic as the team that just lost the homecoming game, think twice before accepting the offer. Typically, there’s a reason for low morale – and it may be an unsupportive or excessively critical work environment.

High turnover. Be sure to ask your prospective employer why the last few people left the job you’re being considered for, and how long they stayed in the role. With these questions, you’re trying to make sure that it’s a viable position. If a string of others have been unsuccessful in the role, it may be because the employer has unrealistic expectations or provides mixed direction.

You don’t fit in with the culture. If you feel uncomfortable with a company’s corporate culture, you probably won’t be fulfilled on the job. The work environment affects how you feel on a daily basis, so make absolutely sure it’s one you can live with. If, for example, you strongly prefer a conservative work environment with set hours and established rules, you probably won’t be happy in an informal atmosphere with a “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants” way of doing business.

No rapport. How well you get along with your manager and team members will have a significant impact on your career, so if you sense that you and your potential colleagues have conflicting work styles or personalities, you should reconsider the opportunity. It’s OK if you and your potential manager have different styles – often they will complement each other. Just make sure they’re not at odds before accepting the offer.

No way up. Try to get a realistic idea of growth opportunities available within the company. For example, how have people before you moved up with the firm? Where did your prospective manager start out? If the answers to such questions don’t seem to support a policy of promoting from within, you may want to continue your job search.

Your instincts say ‘no.’ If your intuition tells you that something’s a little “off” but you can’t place it, do some additional research or ask more questions before accepting the offer. You may subconsciously have picked up on a problem that should be addressed.

If you decide to decline a job offer, do so graciously, and be candid – yet tactful – about your concerns. This gives the hiring manager a chance to address them; he or she may be able to provide information that will put you at ease. If you decide to keep looking, try to use what you’ve learned to further focus your search on companies that offer the type of corporate culture, work style and growth opportunities you’re seeking.

This article is provided by The Creative Group, specializing in placing highly skilled creative, advertising, marketing, web and public relations professionals with a variety of firms. The company has offices throughout North America, including Bay Area locations in San Francisco and San Jose. More information can be found at or by calling us at 888-846-1668.
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