I’ve been successfully self-employed for the past four years so I’m used to being my own boss, working on my own terms and being able to control – to a certain extent – the amount of money I bring in. So I have an extremely low tolerance when it comes to the type of work environments people want me to commit to. There are perfectly wise, legitimate reasons for turning down a job, even in a tough economy. Sometimes any job is not better than no job!
What are your priorities?
Before you even go on an interview, define what’s important to you in terms of the lifestyle you want to lead professionally and personally. For example, I’ve decided that working from home is extremely important to maintain the work/life balance I’m accustomed to. If a potential employer shows an unwillingness to compromise at all on this issue and wants me in the office at all times, that’s a red flag. I know many people who prefer going into an office – and I absolutely would, too, under the right (ie, flexible) circumstances – so this may not be an issue for you. But each person has their non- or slightly- negotiables. Figuring these out before you’re faced with making a decision about employment is imperative.
What are your – and your potential employer’s – salary expectations?
This sounds simple but if you’ve ever made it through a round of interviews without any talk of money or salary, you know that things can quickly get complicated. It’s a waste of time for you and a potential employer to get all the way through a series of interviews only to find out you’re not on the same page financially. Even figuring out the range in which the potential employer is operating can be helpful in determining if you want to move forward.
Again, don’t automatically assume that any job is better than no job. For example, I was recently recruited to interview for a position which payed three or four times LESS than what I make on my own! Yes, there’s the potential security of working for someone else (but even that can be a false sense of security!). But the reality was I would’ve had to maintain an intense client work load in addition to the job in order to bring in as much money as I wanted. This goes back to my point about priorities: That sacrifice of lifestyle (ie, working all the time!) just wasn’t worth it.
What are your Goals?
Maybe you know exactly where you want to be in your career. Maybe you’re just testing the waters and you’re not sure. These two situations can lead to very different decisions about what types of jobs to take or turn down. If you have a specific goal in mind and you’re offered a job that doesn’t really follow the trajectory of that goal you’ll have to decide what the best response is – the job may not be a good fit because it would get you off-track of your long-term goal. Or it may be that the future employer would be flexible in allowing you to integrate different tasks and duties into your daily responsibilities to make it closer in line with your goals.
If you’re not sure in what direction you’d like to head, accepting or rejecting a job can be less about long term goals and more about some of the other things mentioned above – lifestyle, work/life balance, salary, enjoyment and so forth. Even if you’re unemployed, it’s not always wise to take the first job that comes your way if you have specific standards and goals in mind.