Why You Should Say, “No,” to That Job Offer

So, I’ve been neglecting this blog a bit lately. I had all these great posts planned (they’re still going to happen, BTW), but then I got distracted by the whole “find a job and apartment in Chicago” thing. I set a deadline for myself to move to the Windy City by August 1st, so I’ve been applying to jobs like crazy.

Last Thursday, I applied for a marketing associate position at an international business firm. I speak French, studied abroad, and minored in international business; sounds like a perfect match, right?

I ended up turning the job down before I even got to the interview stage.

I know, it’s crazy. Here I am, working my butt off to secure a job before I move and then, when I’m a perfect fit for one (on paper, at least, since I never actually got to find out), I turn it down. I’m not exactly swimming in job offers at the moment, by the way.

Still, I knew that I couldn’t move any further in the process. Why? Because the salary was a whopping $32,000 annually. Oh, and no health insurance, though they do have a generous PTO policy.

Before you start applying for jobs, know your worth.

Now, I’m not saying that I should be making six figures at this stage in my career. However, I’m a bilingual marketing graduate who has created two blogs, developed and executed the social media strategy for a start-up company without any direction from my boss, successfully identified influencers for a national campaign, and led a social media campaign for a Triple-A baseball team’s Opening Night. All of this while still in school and working multiple jobs, might I add.

So, I like to think that I’m worth a smidge more than $32,000 and no benefits.

Despite that, I still almost agreed.

In the heat of the moment, you’ll say “yes” to a lot of things, like going out to the bar with your friends even though you have work at 8am the next morning. Or dropping $75 on a pair of shoes because they make your legs look amazing, despite the fact that you’re supposed to be fattening up your savings account.

These are perfectly okay to say “yes” to without much thought, because they really don’t have long-term consequences. Sure, you may have to go into work with a hangover or be more responsible with your next paycheck, but you’ll be fine in the end.

Accepting a job offer without thinking it over is the worst thing you can do.

Why did I do it, then? Because I’m 21 years old, I’ve got bills to pay, and I have my heart set on moving by the end of the summer. My cat would also prefer not to live in a box under a bridge somewhere. Clearly, a job is a key part of this plan.

After applying to what feels like a hundred jobs and not hearing back from any of them, it’s tempting to take the first offer that comes your way. Hey, it may not be your dream job, but at least it’s better than nothing, right?

Wrong. The absolute worst thing to do is take a job that you know won’t give you enough to live on and resign yourself to at least a year of hating your life and struggling to get out of bed every day. I’ve lived the paycheck to paycheck life as a college student and let me tell you, it ain’t pretty.

Sure, there are crappy jobs, with crappy coworkers and crappy bosses. But if you’re getting paid enough, you can afford a couple hobbies (or a few drinks) to ease your stress. Heck, with the deals you can find at airports like O’Hare, you can even catch a cheap flight to some Caribbean paradise and spend the weekend drinking fruity cocktails with the little umbrellas in them at the beach before facing another long week.

You cannot do any of those on a $32,000 salary. It’s just not feasible. I went over the numbers again and again, trying to make this job work. But at the end of the day, no matter how frugal you are, that kind of salary isn’t going to let you live a happy life in one of the most expensive cities in the country. It’s barely going to let you tuck away a couple dollars into your savings account between paychecks.

At the end of the day, you’re going to find a job. Will it be perfect? Probably not. Will you be able to put up with it, at least for a year or two, because the pay is worth it? Absolutely.

Always know your worth and what you can and cannot put up with. And if those minimum requirements aren’t being met, don’t be afraid to walk away.

Life is going to work out. Just be patient.

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