Should You Turn Down a Job Offer if You're Unemployed?
Last week I was at a networking meeting and one of the women there works as a recruiter helping match potential employers who have a need with people who need and want to work. You'd think in this economy and the corresponding levels of unemployment that she would be the holy grail for many. Not so. She explained that one of her biggest problems are people who come for interviews, get offered jobs, and then decide to decline because they would rather stay home and collect unemployment for a while. This situation has her nearly insane!
Her contention is that what these people are doing is illegal. After all, when you are collecting unemployment you have to answer all those questions like "are you able and available for work?" "did you decline any suitable work offered to you?". You agree to answering them truthfully under penalty of law. I guess the gray area comes in the interpretation of suitable work for you.
Of course the definition of this is unique to each individual and is a combination of factors such as someone's current financial situation, skills, and willingness to do different kinds of work for different pay than they may have been doing before. Before I share what I want to say next let me be clear that in no way do I advocate committing fraudulent acts. You need to be in integrity with the choices you make and obey the law. That said, sometimes it is better to say no to the wrong job. It doesn't serve you or the potential employer to accept a job that you're going to quit after a few weeks or show up and check-out at rather than contribute.
Some might think this heresay in an environment where job seekers outnumber open jobs 6 to 1 (link via Susan Ireland). For many living month to month any job offer is better than none at all. I understand this because if your basic needs are not being met or are being threatened, than you must do whatever you can to ensure you can meet them. Yet, if you have some leeway and can feel like you're more at choice, then it behooves you to jump into a situation that could backfire on you. The silly saying that beggars can't be choosers is only a limited mindset telling you to repeat the same horrible cycle over and over and over... because you don't get a choice, right?
Not everyone would agree with me of course. And the article "Unemployed? Any Job is Better than No Job" does just that.
If I lost my job I would be willing to take just about anything to help pay my monthly expenses and stretch out my emergency fund. If this meant working at a home improvement store for $10 per hour I would do it (and work 80 hours per week!). If it meant joining a landscaping crew and working out in the heat I would do it. You should have the same mentality.
I'm not talking about turning down jobs to sit home, drink beer, and eat peanuts though. I'm talking about using this time of transition (where, let's face it, things are and will continue to be different at least for the foreseeable future) to create something new, to invest in your growth (skills and personal), and consciously choose your actions. Those choices may indeed include working full or part-time in a position that helps you get your needs met or protect your capital/emergency fund for the short-term, but recognize the choices for what they are and don't turn into a martyr and a victim who wakes up 5-10 years from now miserable because you followed the crowd of lemmings.
Many job interviews entail a great deal of work and preparation. Some require candidates to complete projects as part of the interview process and you can't really decline projects that are part of the interview process because it is essentially telling your potential employer, "no I'm not willing to do what is necessary to work here". So again, make sure it is a job you would actually entertain before you put forth the effort and expend your and other people's time on an interview.
What do you think? What has been your experience? Taken any jobs that you regret? Would you turn down a job that doesn't fit you? Share your thoughts in the comments...
Paula Gregorowicz, owner of The Paula G. Company, offers life and business coaching for women to help you gain the clarity, confidence, and courage you need to succeed on your own terms. Get the free eCourse "5 Steps to Move from Fear to Freedom" at her website