Are You Happy?
Sure, a six-figure salary is certainly an offer that's hard to refuse, but it's important to remember that salary isn't the only aspect of the job that will determine your happiness. Finding a job that you enjoy and can grow with is just as important. Similarly, finding a job that lets you showcase your skills and be yourself is equally important.
If the starting salary of a job is fairly low but the job seems to present a great and unique opportunity, think about the benefits of taking it. Can you see opportunities for advancement within the company? Does the company itself have a bright and rosy future? If your best friend were thinking of taking a job here, would you advise him to do so?
Most important, would taking this job cause you to depart from your original career path? Only you can decide.
When discussing money, imagine you're playing poker, and try not to reveal what you're thinking. Even if the salary seems barely above the poverty level, it wouldn't be wise to inform the recruiter of this fact. Similarly, if the offer is much higher than you expected, doing cartwheels around the room probably wouldn't be appropriate either.
Still, if there's a great opportunity but you just can't get past the low salary, you may want to take a while to think about it. Rather than start out a job with a negative attitude, it is best to shop around and wait until all the pieces come together and a more exciting job opportunity makes itself available to you. If you're unemployed, the temptation to jump at the offer is strong. But wait.
If you're expecting an answer from another company about a job you'd prefer to take, and you think they're on the verge of making a decision, buy time. You could say you want to talk it over with your family. If the job involves relocation, say you want to take an exploratory trip.
True, you'd be taking a chance because your hesitation may not sit well with the company. However, there's a good chance that you will get other job offers and perhaps better ones. If you take this job, two months from now you might be miserable, and the idea of quitting only to start another job search all over again might not seem an option down the line.
Cynthia jumped at a job offer from a small biotech firm that involved relocating from Boston to Montana. The corporate culture emphasized teamwork over individual performance, which went against her grain. When Cynthia quit, she was out her relocation costs and forced to start the job interview process all over again.
This is not to say you should wait until a job that knocks your socks off comes along. Realistically, there may never be a perfect job. But you should wait until a reasonable offer—and a job that you believe will take you on the right career path—comes along. Always trust your instincts. Figure out exactly what it is you are looking for in a job, and don't be afraid to wait until just such a job comes around. In the end, it is your overall happiness that matters, and that is certainly something that you should never negotiate.
Backing Out of a Job Offer
Let's suppose that you've accepted a job offer—one that you weren't perfectly happy with—and right away another, better offer comes along. You're expected to start the first job the following week. What do you do? You're sorely tempted to back out of the first job, but there may be unpleasant consequences if you do. You'll be throwing away the good relationship you've established with your new employer. And word gets around—it won't help your prospects in your industry if it becomes known that you made a commitment, accepted a job, and then backed out. In the long run, it may hurt your career.
Nevertheless, if you decide to do it, do it in a way that will cause the least damage to your reputation. Be open about it, and tell the first company you're backing out because you've received a higher salary offer from someone else. You never know; they may decide they undervalued you and respond with a counteroffer. Even if they don't, your honesty and frankness are the best tools you have to deflect any lasting damage to your career.