Is It A Mistake To Turn Down A Job Offer If You're Unemployed?

turn down a job offer

Lately I've received more calls than usual for job interviews. I'm very happy about this; but after one particularly promising interview today, I'm surprised that I'm also feeling a little unsettled.

I think this employer may be on the verge of making me a job offer.

You know how they say, "Be careful what you wish for?" I've been looking for a new job for almost three years now. So what's my problem? Maybe thoughts of a daily commute and working in an office again are making me anxious.

No, it's not that. What's really making me feel a bit on edge is the possibility of making a bad decision.

Starting a new job is one of those big life events. It affects not only your life, but the people and even the pets in your life too.

What if I accept a job and then a better one comes along tomorrow or next week or next month -- a job that pays more or has a shorter commute or lets me write more or offers richer benefits? This job isn't "perfect" -- should I wait for one that is? Is there even such a thing? I don't believe there is, but the thought can torment you if you think you've chosen the wrong job.

During my lengthy unemployment, as much as I've wanted it to end, I've created an interesting and fulfilling life. My daily routines and activities have become habits after all this time. It's nice to do part-time freelance writing at home and not have to dress up and commute every day. I've gotten used to my life the way it is. Working full-time outside the house would require a big adjustment, a big change. I just want to make sure that it's a positive change.

More: Is It A Mistake To Hold Out For A Full-Time Job?

Believe me, I realize how fortunate I am to be able to even consider the possibility of not taking a job because I don't think it's right for me. Is it foolish to think this way? If I receive an offer after 34 jobless months, shouldn't I just grab it? A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, isn't it?

Something that's affecting my thinking about this is the very fact I have had a promising run of interviews recently. There are things about a couple of the other jobs in the pipeline that I like better. Still, nothing's really "promising" until it's a concrete offer.

The only time I've ever had two job offers at once was when I first graduated college (more than a few years ago). I took the one that paid more and that choice undoubtedly set the course for my career.

Of course, I'm not 22 and just starting out anymore. On the other hand, because I'm not 22 anymore, I want to find a job with as many features that I like as possible. I suspect that things I dislike -- such as a lengthy commute or work I don't enjoy -- could adversely affect my physical and mental health more now than they would have 30-something years ago.

I'm looking for a job whose positives far outweigh its negatives at this stage of my life and my career. The employer, the work and I should be a great fit. I don't want to just "settle" for the first job offer that comes along. Yet I don't know for sure if I can afford to be so picky. What if another offer never comes along?

While I've been writing this, I've received an email inviting me to interview for another job. This is great!

It's great, but it adds to my worry, my concern about the consequences of making the wrong choice. But what am I worrying about? Right now, I have zero job offers!

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Get off your duff and get to work. The job may turn out better than you imagined but if you don't take it you will never know. If it is a real dog, keep what you have until something better comes along. Right now you are UNEMPLOYED and need to get back into the labor market even if the job is less stellar than you expect.

March 20 2015 at 9:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Laura Burton

I am looking for a part time job that makes you want to come to work everyday with a smile on your face and makes your spirit come alive. I want a job that matters. I am currently working full time but I am bored to tears on a daily basis. I need more but I'm not exactly sure what my dream job is doing but I am open. I need time to live my life as well as pay my bills. My back ground is in quality control, and customer service I earned a bachelors in Spiritual healing/ counseling during my time out of work. Please message me on FB if you have something that you feel would be a good fit. 6 hours or less a day 10.00 an hour or more. Does this job exist?

May 18 2013 at 10:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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December 10 2012 at 12:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Spark Hire

Great article Fran. It can be hard to decide whether or not a job is truly the best fit for you, even if you’ve been unemployed for awhile. This is why it’s so important to ask plenty of questions about the company culture in the interview, whether it’s in person or through online video. The more you know about the company, the more likely you are to know whether or not you’ll fit into the organizational atmosphere.

November 15 2012 at 8:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with Jeff. Its important to keep your skills current. You have done a great job during the lapse of a full time job. Now is the time to put what you learned to good use. Good luck!!

November 14 2012 at 6:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Eon Puzzle

Fran - Would you be interested in helping spread the word about Eon Puzzle? Based upon your author information associated with this article, your career situation may not be entirely foreign to the Eon Puzzle project director.
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November 13 2012 at 9:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Fran if you get offered the job take it. Theres an old saying a "bird in the hand, is worth two in the bush."
Currently you don't have a job. Provided this job is at or about the level you are looking for, you liked the interviewers and the company "sounds" right then take it. If you don't like it then give it a couple of months and then decide whether you want to stay. I'd say part of what you are grappling with now is that you are in a comfort zone, if you've survived the last 3 yrs at home, you've created a routine that you are reluctant to break away from.Have confidence in yourself, you'll be fine back at work and you'll be back earning.I'm sure you've enjoyed the break away from the office, you've earned a degree, go and use it, and spend a little bit of that money you earn on small present or gift for yourself. Good Luck!

November 13 2012 at 8:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jeff.ando's comment

Jeff, this is great advice and I appreciate it. You sound like you understand the experience of unemployment and of finding a new job after a long search. Have you been through this? Thanks.

November 14 2012 at 10:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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