By Caroline Levchuck
Employer caution has extended the hiring process by weeks, even months. You may interview for a position several times, in person and by phone. No matter how long the process is and how well you've gotten to know your potential colleagues, it's still perfectly acceptable to turn down a job offer. In fact, there may be many valid reasons you should politely decline an opportunity, assuming, of course, that you're not in dire financial straits.
1. The Word on the Street
Is the company's stock price tanking? Or is there talk of a merger? Both of these things could indicate that layoffs loom large, and the position you accept today may not exist in a few months. To calculate your risks, speak with industry experts, do your due diligence, and consult with family and trusted friends. If you still want to accept the position, try to obtain an iron-clad employment contract.
2. A Revolving Door
A certain percentage of employee turnover is normal. However, high employee turnover should raise a red flag for any potential worker. Research a company thoroughly before accepting an offer. Also, be sure to listen carefully during the hiring process. Do interviewers keep referring to folks who've left the company or mentioning a total lack of redundancy? These could be signs people are leaving faster than replacements can be recruited.
3. Money Isn't Everything -- It's the Only Thing
If money is a major factor in your decision to accept a new job, think twice before you do. In fact, think three times. Even four.
Depending on your personal financial situation and how much more you'd be earning in a new job, money may not buy you on-the-job happiness or professional fulfillment. It may not even guarantee career advancement. Assess your finances. Revisit your career goals. Look at the situation with a big-picture view of your future. Making a move for a modest increase may not be worth it if there's more long-term potential with your current employer. Also, be sure to calculate your entire compensation package to make sure that you're not forfeiting a valuable retirement or insurance plan for a bigger paycheck.
4. All Work, No Life
There's a time in almost everyone's career when they have to put their nose to the grindstone and work almost to the point of burnout. If you're just beginning your career or starting a second one, this may be what lies ahead for the next few years. However, if you're a mid-careerist with a family and personal obligations, it may not be wise to accept an 80-hour-a-week job. Consider the impact your new schedule will have on you and your family. Will generous vacation make up for the longer hours? Is flextime available so you can still attend family functions? Can you work from home? Forfeiting invaluable work-life balance benefits without assessing the consequences can have a devastating impact on your personal life.
5. A Bad Reputation
Going to work for a company with a reputation that's been sullied by a corporate scandal or that isn't well-respected can, in turn, sully your resume. Investigate any potential employer's standing within its industry. Solicit opinions from within your network as well as that of an executive recruiter. You may learn that it's better to be a top salesperson at an admired organization rather than a VP of sales at a suspect one.