After a series of interviews, the good news is that you received the job offer. The bad news is that you are not sure you want to take it. How should a job seeker handle this? Is this career suicide?
It doesn’t have to be. If handled correctly this could be a very positive opportunity to move your career forward in the desired direction.
Clearly you sold yourself well during the interview process. The hiring manager is able to visualize you in the role and sees the value of your experience and skills. Thank them for the vote of confidence by making the offer. But, the interview process is an opportunity for you to assess fit while they are doing the same. If you don’t come to the conclusion that this is the right next step for you, listen to your gut and analyze your reactions.
While you may be flattered by the offer and it may include a salary increase or a new title, those alone are not reasons to accept. Is this the type of work you want to do every day? Do you feel comfortable working with this group of people every day? Do you believe in the mission of the organization? Is there an opportunity to learn something new and develop new skills in this position? Is the position enough of a challenge to keep you motivated? Does the opportunity enable you to play to your strengths? Is this a logical next step given your longer term career goals? Be honest with yourself and fully evaluation the opportunity.
If you conclude that you are not interested in the position for any of these reasons or more, be honest with yourself. Maybe it is your dream job but the demands of the job are too much to take on right now due to a new baby at home, a move, a degree to finish, or other personal issues. If you do not feel qualified or feel it is a not a good fit, acknowledge that to yourself.
Once you have determined logically not emotionally that this is not the best next step for you, it is important to notify the hiring manager or HR immediately. Thank them for their offer and their confidence in you. You do not have to share all the details of your decision but give them a valid reason for your declining the offer. You learned a lot in the process and just don’t feel this is the best step for you at this time. If you know a qualified candidate, offer a recommendation. Handle all your interactions professionally and with respect. The business world is small these days and you don’t want to burn any bridges for the future.
Once the decision is made, let it go. Don’t keep analyzing the situation and playing what if. You made the best decision at the time so move forward focused on your career goals and your future success.