You applied for the position, received an interview and then they call with an offer. Suddenly you are not sure if this is the best next step for you or not. First of all, thank them for their offer. Then, ask for a day or two to weigh your decision.
When faced with this decision it is important to be very honest with yourself and aware of your skills as well as your development needs. While this may not be your dream job, does it help you develop skills and experience that will lead you to your dream job?
I encourage students to make a T account with pros on one side and cons on the other. Documenting they specific pros and cons of the opportunity can help the decision-making process.
Can you live with the things you can’t change?
You can’t change the company, the industry they are in or their location. If you have serious objections to the company and their mission you should likely decline the position. Unless there are options to work from home, location could also be a show stopper. If your concerns are about the stability of the company or their future direction, you may want to speak with them in more detail before reaching a hasty decision.
Do you love the company but not the job?
If this is a company you would love to work for long term, is it worth taking this position to gain a foot in the door? Is it often easier to move from within than to be hired from the outside. Are there particular skills and experience you could develop in this role that would move you closer to your dream job? If so this could be a great opportunity. Are there opportunities to network within the company from this position? It is possible to negotiate some additional responsibilities that would help you advance your career?
Are you ready for your dream job?
You may have a clear vision of your dream job but you may lack critical experience or skills. Be honest with yourself and solicit feedback from your mentor. Identify the skills you need to develop and the experience you need to gain. Use that as a measure to evaluate opportunities. If they move you closer to your dream job, that could be a valuable next step. Don’t cling to the possibility of landing your dream job if you do not yet have the skills and experience. If you are not being invited to interviews for any of those dream positions, there is a reason. Focus on building the bridge that will get you to your dream job.
Don’t forget fit?
At the end of the day, these are the people you would be working with every day and the work you would face each morning. Are you a fit? Would you be comfortable in this situation? You need to learn to trust your gut. Fit can be the most important part of the evaluation and it has to be a fit for the manager and the new employee. If it is not a fit, don’t waste your time or theirs.
Making the decision
Review the pros and cons you documented. Do the pros outweigh the cons? Are any of the cons show stoppers? Does this move you closer to your dream job or company? Communicate your decision to the company in a timely and professional manner. Don’t burn any bridges, they have another opportunity that is a better fit in the future.
Sometimes the next best step is not your dream job but an opportunity to gain or enhance critical skills while adding valuable experience. Don’t think exclusively short term. This could be an important investment in your long term career success.