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Why You Should Turn Down That Job Offer

By Katherine Spencer Lee
December 4, 2006 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - It's always exciting to receive a job offer from a prospective employer, especially if you've been looking for months. But don't let your excitement cloud your better judgment; not all job offers are created equal, and some should definitely give you pause. In today's employment market, IT professionals skilled in the hottest specialties have leverage, and a more appropriate offer may be on the horizon. Except in extreme circumstances, steer clear of an employment offer if any of the following is true.

You will be the fifth person to have held the job in the past three years. Before moving forward with a new position, take a moment to look back by researching the history of the role you're about to fill. Have those who held the job typically been promoted, or did the majority of them resign? Avoid any position that could be a black hole. To find out, ask the hiring manager the following questions:

  • Why is this job vacant?
  • Is the turnover rate high for this position?
  • What's typically the next career step for those with this job?
The hiring manager is not likely to admit that there are problems with the position, so you may have to read between the lines when evaluating his answers.

You will clash with the corporate culture. If you're a jeans-and-T-shirt person, a suit-and-tie environment may feel stifling. Similarly, if you prefer the stability of a large, well-established firm, you probably won't enjoy working for a start-up that's barely off the ground. So, when evaluating a job offer, pay particular attention to the firm's corporate culture and how well you align with it. If the atmosphere is not comfortable, chances are the position won't be right for you.

Adapting to the corporate culture also means relating well to future co-workers and supervisors. While you don't have to be best friends with the people you work with, you should respect them and enjoy the time you spend with them in the office. Think back to the people with whom you interviewed. Were you able to establish rapport? Did anyone seem standoffish? If you took part in a group interview, how well did the interviewers interact with one another? Would you be happy spending 40 hours, or more, per week with these people?

Ask the hiring manager to describe a typical day at the firm and what the work environment is like. If you haven't done so already, try to meet with your prospective manager and members of his team. You also may gain insight from people in your network, who

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