Tuesday, April 12, 2011

When to Walk Away From Your First Job Offer

Picture this: while you are waiting to hear back from your dream job, you get a call for an interview for another nonprofit job.  You go into the interview knowing that even if you really want that dream job, you have to take what you can get.  But still, you are not expecting to be given a job offer after the first interview.  And that's when it happens: after the interview is done, the manager tells you he wants to offer you the position.  You are in shock, and aren't sure how to respond.  What do you do?

This is a scenario that happens very often to job seekers, and it is indeed hard to come up with an answer on the fly.  Luckily for you, I have some tips to help you decide whether or not to accept that first job offer. 

First of all, in this situation I would always ask for a day to think over the situation.  In most cases (with a few extreme exceptions), it is best not to make decisions without weighing the pros and cons; this is especially true when it comes to job offers.  During this period, you should identify anything about this position that is a potential deal breaker.  Are the hours too restraining?  Does the salary leave something to be desired?  Next, you need to analyze the results from your job search thus far.  If you turn down this job, are you confident a new opportunity will present itself soon after?  No matter how bad the position seems, you might want to consider taking it if you haven't had too much luck so far searching for non profit jobs.

Of course, you can go through all the pros and cons of the job offer you have received and still find that you can't make a decision.  In this situation, you need to dig a little deeper.  Research the organization some more; do they seem like they are on the rise or on the way down?  If you have an opportunity to work at an up-and-coming not-for-profit, you should take it even if it's not the job you have always dreamed of.  At the end of the day, however, the most important advice you can listen to is your gut.  If there is something inside of you that says you should definitely work at this company (or vice-versa), then you should go with it.  All decisions have their downsides and, ultimately, you are going to have to take the good with the bad.  If the decision ends up being a bad one, at least you have gained some valuable nonprofit experience.  Plus, you will have an even better idea of what you can or cannot do.

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