Evaluating a Job Offer: When to Walk AwayJan 07, 2024
It doesn’t matter how far you get in a hiring process – sometimes, the offer just doesn’t cut it.
From misaligned values to questionable compensation, there are so many reasons why accepting a job offer may go against your best interests.
With this said, it’s hard to know when to say no.
In this post, I’m covering 11 Signs you need to walk away from a job offer along with guiding questions, and prompts to identify your needs.
11 Signs You Need to Walk Away From a Job Offer
Use them to help guide you on when to walk away.
1. An obvious clash
The most obvious reason you would walk away from a job offer is a major conflict between company and personal values.
If you know that you’re going to hate working somewhere, for someone, or with a team, no amount of compensation can mitigate that.
Don’t put yourself through the headache!
If a company's reputation precedes them with rumors of a toxic work culture and poor work-life balance, I opt to believe the masses.
Beyond hearsay, you can quickly identify a company’s values based on what you’re told from company policy, recruiters, and your personal experience.
Oh and don’t be afraid to walk away from a misaligned job opportunity at any time - you don’t have to wait for the offer to say no, you can withdraw at any time.
2. A low-ball offer
Compensation is a big part of any new contract. If you receive an offer way below your market value without any additional employee benefits, this is a big red flag.
Evaluate your offer against your true market value including skills, position level, and specific industry. Be honest - don’t assume you’ll be at the top of the range.
In some cases, there will be wiggle room for negotiation. But if the compensation does not align with the role, results, skills, and industry standards and the employer won’t budge - walk away. You’ll just resent the company in a few months.
Remember to look beyond base salary at commissions, bonuses, insurance, retirement benefits, and more.
If it comes up short – that’s your answer.
3. A suspiciously high offer
In truth, it might be hard to turn down an offer higher than you were expecting.
But if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
A huge offer could signal even bigger problems within the company, pointing to a toxic culture and high turnover.
If a company is trying to keep you solely with dollar amounts, you’ll likely pay in your stress levels, ten-fold.
4. The offered benefits and your needs don’t match
Benefits can make or break a compensation package.
If this possible employer doesn’t have what you want, need, or most value, you can’t afford to take the position.
For example, if you need comprehensive health insurance and the company doesn’t provide you with it, or pay you enough that you can afford to buy it yourself, then you need to walk away.
5. A lack of growth potential
Sometimes, you need to take a slight pay cut or downshift your level a bit when changing industries, positions, or simply based on current industry standards.
But if you can't see a path to getting where you want, this is a cause for concern.
In some recruitment processes, you might be told that they are starting you at a lower title or salary so you can “prove yourself”. That an be OK, the standards for getting the pay or title bmp need to be concrete.
If they won’t give you an explicit, written timeline and performance targets to meet, they’re playing games with you.
Additionally, if a position doesn't offer you growth potential in skill development or career advancement that you’ve charted for yourself, you will likely find yourself misaligned and moving away from your career goals, not closer to them.
6. Unclear expectations in your role
One of the biggest interview red flags is even more concerning when you get an offer – unclear expectations.
If your employer doesn’t offer you clear expectations about what you will be doing and how you’ll know if you’re successful by the time they issue an offer, I suggest you run like Forrest Gump.
This is going to lead to unclear power balances, task confusion, and most likely, daily conflict.
None of these qualities lend themselves to a positive work environment.
7. Employment terms you can’t agree to
While a position may seem perfect in theory, hidden clauses or terms can come back to bite you in the butt.
Make sure to look out for non-compete agreements, unreasonable NDAs, sketchy termination procedures, conditional benefits, and any other highly restrictive clauses.
You’ll also want to keep an eye out for things that are missing from your offer letter.
A friend of mine works for a company that is currently forcing a return to the office 2-3 days a week for all employees who were not specifically classified as being permanently remote. Having things like this spelled out in your offer letter can save your bacon when company leaders decide to make changes.
8. They gaslight you about your worth
Believe me – employers are not above gaslighting.
When entering a negotiation, be clear about what you bring to the table, what your market value is, and how this compares to your research of industry standards.
If you’ve done your homework tell them what you’re worth and they try to tell you that you’re not worth it, this is an immediate walk-away situation - especially if they don’t have their own concrete research to share with you. I say this not because of the pay disparity itself, but because they are trying to make you question reality.
They may quickly come back and try to meet your price. But after that initial gaslighting tactic, I would be very wary of the employer - after all, they will never treat you better than when the are trying to convince you to work there.
9. You feel disrespected
If at any point in this hiring process, you feel disrespected, you should walk away from a job offer. Heck, I’d argue you should withdraw the minute this happens.
Disrespectful treatment by an employer rarely goes away and it never gets better. It’ll most likely get worse over time. And no amount of compensation is worth your integrity.
In addition, if you feel like the employer was at all dishonest or misrepresented the role in the hiring process, this is just another form of disrespect and shouldn’t be tolerated.
10. You aren’t given time to decide
Some employers become visibly annoyed when you don’t immediately take an offer. (Pretty annoying when they probably put you through 7 interviews over 3 months, right?)
One tactic sometimes used is exploding offers, which are offers that have a very short timeframe, like 24-48 hours, to accept or decline.
If a potential employer gets angry if you want to talk to an attorney about a contract or take your time to make a decision, this points to a value problem.
Companies love to declare that their employees are their number one priority and asset, but if they don't respect you or your time, this simply isn’t true.
11. Your gut says no
Your gut is your most valuable indicator. If it’s telling you that something is off with this position or offer, don’t discount it.
Your gut will tell you what you don’t want to hear, but if there is some misalignment in values, compensation, or other needs, sometimes your gut is smarter than your brain and you need to walk away.
Final Thoughts from the No BS Career Coach: When to Walk Away from a Job Offer
When evaluating offers, you must maintain a level head and set your standards clearly ahead of time.
Set these standards before you go searching, and most definitely before you start assessing offers. This way, you’ll get to look at the whole picture including all of the aspects you need in an offer, and avoid taking the first thing that comes your way.
When I work with clients, I have a standard worksheet that outlines complete needs in compensation, work-life balance, company culture, and more.
If you need help deciding whether to take an offer, a single strategy coaching call could be a big win for you. Click here to book and pay for a session today.