Rejecting A Job Offer For The First Time Ever

Good news, all: I got a job offer!

Even better news: I rejected it.

Wait, what?

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a recruiter. They were hiring for a company in a similar area of business to my own. It seemed like an interesting opportunity that would allow me to figure out whether my issues are really just with my current employer or the type of work I do overall.

Suffice it to say I killed it during my half-day marathon of interviews. Unlike when I was a college senior– i.e. the last time I got a new job– I knew what I was talking about and after years of experience, felt a lot more at ease with “pitching” myself.

They made me an offer, and the offer was… okay. Money-wise, it was not that different from what I am getting paid now. I probably could have negotiated it higher, but I decided to reject the offer instead. Without going to deeply into it, there were parts of the offer that were red flags (i.e. things that were contradictory to what I had been told verbally) and, after talking a bit more with the team including some junior members on staff who were naively candid, I realized that joining would mean a 25% increase in hours from what I was used to. Which, hahahaha no. I value my time, thank you.

So why, you may ask, am I celebrating rejecting this job?

Because it is the first time I’ve ever been in a position to do so. And it felt amazing.

When I was an undergrad, I remember the frantic do-si-so of courting potential employers. I sent out something like fifty resumes. I went to all the career fairs and company-sponsored talks. I jetted across the country to Seattle, New York, Madison, and more for job and grad school interviews. I’d get back a lot: “our team really liked you but we don’t think you’d be a good fit for this role.” And then they’d put me through another round of interviews for a different role just to tell me no again.

I got rejected everywhere, with one exception: my current employer. I jumped on the one and only opportunity I had. And I’ve done well for myself. I’ve gotten steady promotions and double-digit raises pretty much every year since I’ve joined. But there’s always been that nagging feeling in the back of my head that this was the only job I could get. That nobody else would want me.

But now I know that isn’t true. Not only am I wanted, but I have the confidence in myself to say no to opportunities that I don’t want in return. Maybe later this’ll end up biting me months from now, when I’m unemployed and can’t get another offer. But right now, at least, it feels so good.

Have you ever rejected a job offer? How do you know whether a job is right for you?



8 thoughts on “Rejecting A Job Offer For The First Time Ever

  1. I’m trying to remember if I’ve had multiple job offers at the same time, and the only one that I rejected was sort of by default. I was asked to submit my resume to stay on with a company that moved but I hated the toxic environment of all the people involved and didn’t want to relocate to that part of the East Coast, so I just quietly got my letters of recommendation and applied to many other jobs on my own. I lost out on a fair bit of money but I think that overall it was a smart choice.


    1. That’s understandable. One of the bright-lines I’ve set for myself is no relocation. We’re happy where we are and the tech market here is pretty good, albeit not Bay Area levels. Not following a toxic employer to who knows where seems like a no-brainer.


  2. Congratulations on the offer (and even more congratulations on being able to say no to something if it doesn’t fit your goals)! I feel like every job search/transition at the really early stages of one’s career tends to be very stressful, even though anecdotally (and with some hindsight bias) it all seems to work out for the best.

    I can’t think of a lot of instances of glaring red flags that were apparent in the interview stage for the jobs my law school friends have interviewed for. There’s a lot of not so great things about the jobs, though usually just in ways that are inherent to being a law firm associate, and it’s mostly the same issues with almost any firm. (There can be ways in which individual firms or individual practice groups at a firm are particularly dysfunctional, but firms are usually pretty good about hiding it even through the summer internship stage!)


    1. Thank you! It definitely helped take a little stress off my shoulders knowing I *could* get another job.

      I feel like every company is dysfunctional in some way, but unless there’s something glaringly obvious you just don’t figure out what makes your company uniquely dysfunctional (insert Anna Karenina quote about unhappy families) for at least the first six months. Though big law is so standardized there’s probably less variation as well.


  3. Power dynamic change! Awesome feeling! I’ve been rejected so much I sort of just stopped looking. The stress of being rejected from a job after jumping through hoop after hoop was not great for my mentality or my marriage.


    1. Rejection is tough, I don’t blame you for not looking. You AirBnB empire seems to be coming along nicely though! You seem to be making good (and profitable) use of your time without the standard W2.


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