The dilemma of taking a job you don’t want

Receiving a job offer is usually a joyous occasion: you’ve aced the interviews, and some team is eager to have you to join their firm. But even in a tough economy, there are times when the call instead triggers a sinking feeling, anxiety or worse, because it is not the job you hoped for when you started your search. Only you can know if the economic tradeoff is worth the motivational challenge of taking a job that you are not happy about starting. However, even for the unemployed, before saying “yes” automatically, you should consider these six questions: More

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The dilemma of taking a job you don’t want

Posted 2/6/12

Receiving a job offer is usually a joyous occasion: you’ve aced the interviews, and some team is eager to have you to join their firm. But even in a tough economy, there are times when the call instead triggers a sinking feeling, anxiety or worse, because it is not the job you hoped for when you started your search. Only you can know if the economic tradeoff is worth the motivational challenge of taking a job that you are not happy about starting. However, even for the unemployed, before saying “yes” automatically, you should consider these six questions:

• What do I not like? Making your reservations crystal clear can help determine what is fixed and what is potentially negotiable. Not many people like a long commute, but how much will that affect your quality of life? If you would be taking a salary cut, are there any payoffs on the other side (larger bonus, less commuting time, a culture you like better)? You had a “negative vibe” about the manager – what caused it exactly?

Companies usually behave like better versions of themselves during recruiting, so pay attention – you may learn more than is made explicit. For example, one candidate recently described a 20-interview process to get her offer, definitely a signal that the culture is consensus-driven, and that she would be answering to a lot of masters in the matrix-reporting structure.

• Can I be successful? It is worth weighing first whether you can succeed in the role, or whether this is the reason you have misgivings. If you cannot succeed (not enough resources, no training, wrong reporting structure, manager who has a terrible reputation or a personality that immediately aggravated you), then you should think twice before accepting.

While you may be able to improve your reporting relationship or increase the available resources through negotiation, especially at the director level or above, you are not likely to be able to affect the manager’s personality/style. A client recently turned down a position because his title would not have put him on par with his internal customers, and he knew that without being seen as a colleague he would not have access or credibility, and would have to bring his boss into every customer discussion. You definitely want to avoid finding yourself in a year trying to market yourself again with bad/no references, having been fired, or laid off with minimal severance.

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