When is it Right to Turn Down a Job Offer?

Once you’ve gone through getting your CV in front of the right people, meeting with the recruiter and finally interviewing with the employer it can seem like the next inevitable step is to accept the job offer.

At Anne Corder Recruitment we pride ourselves on finding the right person for the right job. We understand each individual candidate’s ambitions and work hard to help them achieve those ambitions. So, in some instances, we know it’s right for a job seeker to turn down a job offer.

The most important thing – and the thing that makes a world of difference to whether a candidate is happy in a new job and the longevity of their time there – is whether it’s right for them to accept the offer.

In my experience as a recruitment expert, there are times when this does happen. I’ve put together a quick list of some instances where it may not be the right time for you to accept a job offer:

Are your motives for changing jobs right?

Perhaps you’re changing jobs as you relocate or maybe you’re looking to move away from something that is making you unhappy in your current role. Either way, you need to look at your motives for the change and see how they align with the job you’ve been offered.

You’ll want to see if this new job not only resolves the reason why you’re changing jobs in the first place but also aligns with your ambitions and other elements that impact on your job search. For example, if you want to move jobs to find better progression opportunities you will still want to make sure that the job offers the salary you require, that it’s commutable and that you will maintain a healthy work/life balance.

Draw up a list of ‘must haves’ in a new job and see how the proposed job offer lines up. Consider whether there is the opportunity for some things to change – for example, will you be given training with an eye to moving into a new role or will additional benefits be introduced when you complete a probationary period? If not, then perhaps this isn’t the right job opportunity for you.

Is it the right cultural fit for you?

It is difficult to establish what the company culture is before you actually start there. But I have given a few tips in a previous blog on how you can get an idea of what it’s like to work in an organisation before you accept the job offer.

Read my blog How to Know if You’re a Good ‘Cultural Fit’ for an Organisation

When you’re weighing up whether to accept a job offer or not make sure you do take cultural fit into consideration. If you don’t feel you know enough about the organisation to make a judgment or if you have any concerns do a little more research – see if you can speak to a current or former employee and speak to your recruitment agency. They work closely with the organisation and will be able to tell you the type of person they put forward to roles there, whilst also telling you why they think you would be a good fit.

Are you more excited about another potential opportunity?

When you’re job hunting it can be difficult to negotiate the timings of different applications. You may be going through the final round of interviews for one role when another employer has only just reviewed your CV. As a result it can be tricky to judge when to accept a job offer that’s on the table if you have other potential opportunities lined up too.

Remember, it is okay to stop and think about different job opportunities. Establish when the employer who has made a job offer needs to hear back from you and see if you can meet with other potential employers sooner rather than later. If you are, however, much more excited about another opportunity then tell your recruitment agency this – they’ll be able to offer advice on how to negotiate moving forward.

Are they following a professional hiring process?

There are several factors that should be ‘red flags’ to you during the hiring process, suggesting perhaps this isn’t the job for you. If an organisation is acting unprofessionally, then consider how much a continued unprofessional approach would affect your daily work life and job satisfaction.

A few to look out for are:

  • the organisation contacting you out of their office hours, this could suggest an unhealthy work life balance
  • the employer not wanting to go through a normal recruitment procedure involving an interview, instead they may want to offer you the job straight away but this doesn’t give you the opportunity to get to know them
  • they’ve avoided any reasonable questions you may have.

With this in mind, it’s often a real benefit for candidate’s to work with recruitment agencies to avoid an unprofessional hiring process. The recruiter will be acting as a representative of the employer but they will also want you to find a job that’s right. They’ll be able to help you make sense of what’s unprofessional from an employer but also what may just be out of character.

Deciding whether to accept a job offer or not is a big step, so make sure you talk to friends and family about the opportunity too. You should be excited to make the move and your ‘gut feeling’ can help hugely with this as well!

About the Author

Emma Plummer

Emma Plummer

Recruitment Partner

Emma blogs for the ACR jobseekers’ blog covering tips on how to stand out, managing the job-hunting process and more.