When NOT to Accept a Higher Paying Job

Rejecting Money

I’ve had enough time in the recruiting profession to see how countless career moves worked out (two decades worth).  Just as important as getting things right, is not getting things wrong.  Although this list isn’t scientific or exhaustive; I wanted to share my top 5 reasons to decline an attractive career offer.

1. No Passion.  Behavioral economist Dan Ariely (link to Ted Talk on “What makes us feel good about our work?” –  here ) has extensively studied what motivates us at work.  To quote, “When we think about labor, we usually think about motivation and payment as the same thing, but the reality is that we should probably add all kinds of things to it: meaning, creation, challenges, ownership, identity, pride, etc.”

In my view, nothing can suck your soul dry faster than the monotony of performing a job that fails to inspire you.

2. Crazy Travel.  I’ve noticed that some of our most motivated job seekers that are currently employed have positions that require crazy travel.  In fact, it’s one of the few scenarios where we regularly see top performers accept a new role for less money.  Complicating the matter is the extreme difficulty with interviewing when you are in a different city each week.

3. The Company Has a Shaky Future.  Fortunately, with online research tools and sites it’s become easy to see if a particular company is struggling.  A factor that few consider before joining a floundering company is the mass exodus of talent that most companies in this situation face.  It’s going to be extremely difficult for you to execute with a team of B and C players that decided to stay put and see how it will turn out.

4. The Hardest Part of the Job Isn’t What You Excel at.  Self awareness has been strongly linked with life success.  It won’t matter how great they treat you if you can’t hit quota.  Get clear with yourself about what your strengths and weaknesses are.  Also, stop and consider that this employer may be willing to pay handsomely for a job well done because it’s a difficult job to do well.

5. You Love the Manager (but Wouldn’t Work There if They Weren’t There).  Do you know what’s worse than having a bad boss? Having a bad boss at a bad company.  Don’t put yourself into that potential situation.

Most of the reasons above could be put into a bigger category called “Look Before You Leap.”  I see far too many examples of sales professionals jumping from one role to the next without giving serious thought to what a great fit would look like.  The best time to do this is when you are happily employed and not considering making a switch.    A tip with your list building – if the research is right, money shouldn’t be #1 on your list.