Monday, December 7, 2020

For many people looking for work during these tough times, turning down a job -- any job -- isn't an option.

But recently I talked with a job seeker who interviewed for a job and got really good feedback from the hiring manager. In fact, the hiring manager hinted strongly that an offer would be made by the next day.

The big problem, however, was that after talking to the hiring manager, the job seeker no longer wanted the job. 

While she had done some research on the employer, she learned things during the interview that concerned her. She not only felt the working environment was unsafe, but her hours would be grueling and her pay below industry standards.

After talking it over with her partner, she sent an email to the hiring manager thanking him for the interview. Then, she explained that after hearing more about the job, she didn't feel it was a good fit for her and she no longer wanted to be considered.

This job seeker really felt like she dodged a bad situation, but she was torn. The job market is tough in a lot of industries. Right now, she's working a minimum-wage job after losing a management position in the travel industry. While this potential job would have given her a foot back into the travel industry and better pay, she decided that it was better to stay where she was than take a job that she believed would only be short-term.

"I knew that if I took that job I would be looking for something better the entire time I was there," she told me. "I got depressed just thinking about it."

The reason I share this story is that while the job market is bad, that doesn't mean you have to make career decisions that could hurt you in the long term. Always make sure you step back and talk it over with your family or trusted friends. Here's some things to consider:

1. Your safety. This job seeker truly felt the location of this job was in a dangerous area, and there had been violence in and near the building before. She would be asked to work -- often alone -- and without security measures in place. Even if the employer had offered better security, she didn't feel it was worth the risk.

2. Your health. The hours required on the job were very long, often for 14 days at a stretch without a day off. The job seeker told me that she had nearly ruined her health once before with such a job, and didn't want to do it again.

3. Pay. This is tricky, because if you need to pay rent or make a car payment, you are desperate to get a job. In that case, this comes down to your individual situation and what you can and cannot manage financially. But in this job seeker's case, she was bringing in enough to live on, along with her partner's salary. She felt that if she took a lower salary in her desired industry, it would impact her for years and her earning power might never recover (she's absolutely right). She has decided that she will take some online courses to improve her data skills (important in her travel industry job) and wait for travel jobs to begin to open up as vaccinations flatten the coronavirus.

I share this story because I think it provides a good example of someone who really wanted a job -- but didn't jump at just anything that came along. She weighed her options and made a decision that was best for her personally and professionally.

When times are tough, employers have the upper hand. They may offer lower salaries, substandard work conditions and even try to make you do dangerous work. Working for such employers will never get better. If they hire you without a good faith effort to compensate you for your talents and provide a safe working environment, then they're not going to change once things improve. Keep that in mind when considering a job.

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