Gracefully Declining That Job That Ain’t For You

Earlier today, I was staring at the 10 day weather forecast in NYC (rain, rain, rain and some more rain with a side of 35 MPH winds) and my mind started to wander to “good problems to have.” (Yes, I’m serious- hear me out.) I was like, “Well, we got very little rain this summer so it’s probably good for us, AND that means I’ll actually stay inside and finish that underwater basket weaving project I’ve been working on.”)

And then I thought about ‘good problems’ my clients have. The biggest? She gets a job offer she doesn’t actually want. And then I realized this has happened to 4 clients in the last week or two, and then I realized I had to write a blog post about it to share some tips/spread the love.

So what’s, so what’s the scenario, you ask? Maybe someone did you a solid by getting you the interview and you don’t want to ruffle feathers. Maybe you got a bad vibe from the whole process (that happens soooo much, you wouldn’t believe! Or maybe you would- in any event, listen to your gut in those cases.) So how do you gracefully say no?

1.  Phone- No Snapchat! I don’t even really know what Snapchat does for me, since I basically belong in the year 1870 minus the lack of women’s rights thing, so my point here is Pick up the phone and call the person who offered you the position. I always recommend calling once or twice and not leaving a message if they don’t pick up, but on the 3rd time, it’s ok to leave a short, gracious message. Something like, “I was so hoping to talk to you and thank you over the phone for the gracious offer. I’ve decided not to accept it, and wanted you to know. I thank you for your time.” (And no, this doesn’t supplant a handwritten or emailed thank you.) And you never have to accept or decline an offer on the spot, by the way. If anyone tries to get you to do that, that’s an electric red colored flag.

2. Grievances, Schmievances. Maybe their interview process is whack and left you cold. Maybe they handled it all weirdly. For example, a client went in to interview recently for one job and was offered a completely different job after the interview concluded. Whatever the case may be, there’s no need for a point by point rendering of your ‘issues’ with their protocol, process or people. Calling them out may take you completely off their radar for another position and will do nothing but burn bridges. The only exception is if you are, in the rare case, asked for interview process feedback. (Maybe they’re trying to improve actively and your thoughts will help them.)

3. You Can Say Why, Though. I’m not saying lie or anything. At all. On the contrary, if it’s not aligned with your career goals, say that. If you do not feel there is the growth potential you value, say that. If you’ve discussed your values in the interview (either obliquely or in a straightforward way) it’ll be easy to refer back to that part of the conversation. If they try to ply you with more dinero and it REALLY is about the career growth or job, then it’ll be easy to still turn it down. If it’s about the money and you’ve negotiated the ish out of the original offer but no more wiggle room is offered, you can speak to that. If they really want you, something tells me they’ll find the extra $5k. And if they don’t, there’s another offer out there for you.

4. Know Your Story. Above all else, know your vision. This work obviously comes before you even enter the job search process. You want to know what you value for your career, what your short and long term vision is and what impact you want to have. If you have that and your personal story down pat, then it’ll be easy to decline (politely) a position that doesn’t scream “YES!”

It’s not easy to turn down an offer. Two of my clients recently offered a position not aligned with their career growth and they used their emergency “lifeline” calls I provide to talk through their concerns. It’s hard to walk about from sure money, especially when things are miserable where you’re at. Remind yourself that if it’s not the right thing and you take it to plug some holes in the interim, you’ll find yourself in job searching mode sooner than you can say, “Hakuna Matata.”

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Totally Doable Job Tip Of the Week: Salary Negotiation

This week’s totally doable tip: negotiate your salary!

Just kidding.

I’m not trying to say that negotiating your salary is a breeze for everyone. But what I am saying is that waiting until the night before your annual review or waiting for the job offer is not the time to start thinking about it. Think about a time when you waited til the last minute to think about this critical component of accepting a new position at your current company or a new one. I bet you felt harried and rushed and discombobulated. It doesn’t have to be that way!

Instead, do your homework ahead of time. If your annual review is coming up in the next 2-3 months or you are beginning active job search mode, listen up: this week’s totally doable job tip of the week is:

Do one thing to clarify your salary expectations so afterward, you can begin to crystalize your ‘ask’.

This could be:

  • Research on LinkedIn or or for average salaries in your metro for your job title in your industry.
  • Contacting a colleague/friend at another firm (not your own) to gauge where you’re at. (Note: At an Ellevate NYC event last month, Sallie Krawcheck talked about salary discussions being the last taboo topic in our culture, but that it’s perfectly ok to compare notes with trusted colleagues not at your firm to know where you stand)
  • Discussing where you’re at and where you think you deserve to be with your mentor.
  • Try not to get caught up in needing an answer NOW- this is why we’re working on the initial steps with enough time to revisit and tweak before a job offer is made or it’s annual review time.

Time to Complete: Less time than it takes to have a glass of wine (or two). 

**Bonus Workshop: Interested in learning more about how salary negotiation, knowing your value at work and discussing it can help you finance your dream life? A few early bird tickets are still available for the $mart Money workshop here. 

Finance Dream Life

The Three Big Career Mistakes You’re Making

career mistake

With the work I do as a career coach, I am lucky to be able to talk to people from all walks of life on their career concerns and fears.

And during these conversations, inevitably some version of the following question comes up: “Jill, what would you say are the major career mistakes to avoid?”

Granted, this is one of those ‘ask 10 people and you will get 10 different answers’ sort of questions. But I wanted to really distill what I have seen down into a core three to help you build awareness around whether you are doing any of these things and how to tweak your behavior and mindset so you can work toward obtaining or maintaining a robust career.

Continue reading on Ivy Exec for my definitive list of the big three career mistakes to avoid here.