Thursday, February 25, 2010

What to do when you are unhappy with job offer?

Marcie asks about a recent job offer:
My company closed last summer putting me out of work for the first time in eighteen years. I recently interviewed for a position that was almost identical to the job I held at my previous company. The interview went well and I was given a job offer. Unfortunately, the offer was not for the position I applied for, but for a lower-level position. The recruiting firm I worked with told me the company decided not to fill the original position opting to create this new position instead.

I don’t understand why a company would do this? The company will still need the work completed for the position I applied for. Why didn’t they hire me for the appropriate position?

This is an easy one:
The company didn’t want to pay you what the original position was worth, so they created a scaled down version of that job. This new position probably includes many of the duties from the original opening, but pays less.

Did the company think I was so desperate I’d settle for a lower-level position?
Apparently they did. In the current economy, the main objective for most companies is a positive bottom line. They know if you turn down this offer there is another qualified candidate out there who will be desperate enough to accept it.

What happened?
Marcie decided to take the lower-level job and then continue searching for a more appropriate position. When she called the agency to inform them of her decision she was told the company had rescinded their offer; they thought she would leave at her first opportunity.

What really occurred here?
A recruiter is not an employment counselor. Their loyalties lie with the hiring company who pays their fees. To entice customers, many recruiting agencies are currently offering additional guarantees on their placements. This means if you accept a position only to resign after working a couple of months, the agency will lose all or a portion of their commission. When Marcie entrusted her true plans with her recruiter they no longer wanted to place her and are probably responsible for the rescinded job offer.

My opinion:
If you are unhappy with a job offer and are in a position where you can be picky you should turn it down. You lose credibility when you accept an offer only to resign a couple of months later. Plus, it’s difficult to continue a job search once you have started a new job. Instead of taking a lower-level permanent position, consider temporary or contract work until the job market improves. If you are not in a position to turn down a job offer, accept it immediately and keep all plans of a continued job search to yourself; you may end up working there longer than you anticipate.


  1. very timely. I am in this situation right now. The offer I got was within my range (my lowered, unemployed person's range), but very different in nature than what was presented in the interview cycle. I agree that quitting within the 30 day window doesn't help, esp since I want to stay with this company and accepted this role as a way to get in. So i am trying to focus on a longer-range plan and identify a path I am working from the less-satisfying bird in hand to the more attractive one I suspect is in the bush. I don't know if it will ever materialize. But I do know that if I bail on this company now it never will.

  2. What a horrible lesson to learn the hard way. I agree that when it comes to sharing your future plans regarding a job search, the fewer people who know about it, the better. If a company feels you are going to be immediately searching for a new/better job upon starting a new one, then they are not going to hire you. And recruiters are NOT your friends. They are there to get their signing bonus.

  3. Caroline,
    You bring up an important point, “focus on a longer-range plan.” With statistics like the following quote taken from Saturday’s Milwaukee Journal:

    “The gab between job-seekers and available full-time positions has reached 25-to-1 in Milwaukee’s inner city,”

    Marcie could have considered taking the lower-level position if just to get her foot in the door. Once the company’s financial outlook improves they may have promoted her to the more attractive position. There were no guarantees, but at least she would be working again.

    Also, I enjoyed your informative post:
    and encourage everyone to jump over to her blog and read it.

  4. Michelle,
    Thanks for your comments. You are correct on all counts.