Never turn down anything but an actual offer

... So my first piece of advice is to not make big career or job decisions with too little information.

Many clients and prospective clients I speak with will tell me about a job opening advertisement they read or even a casual conversation about possible jobs where they declined pursuing the opportunity because some minor aspect of the information was not to their liking.

In other words, they based a very large decision on a very small, yet possibly significant, piece of information. There are two important thought processes I want you to consider in that statement. The first is very direct and straightforward. The information contained in a published job opening or even job requirements verbally conveyed in a descriptive nature are not a "contract." What I mean is they are neither necessary fully descriptive nor necessarily binding. So my first piece of advice is to not make big career or job decisions with too little information.

My second point is more involved. As my headline states, never turn down any thing but an actual offer. Here's my reasoning. Until you reach an offer, you're likely still "selling" yourself. Consider it this way, as long as the organization is interviewing and considering more than one person, someone other than you, any reluctance on your part can simply make the organization's choices easier. After all the hiring process is very often one of disqualification.

However, once an offer becomes apparent, the "entity" is now "selling" itself. You're first in line, and they have likely told others that their only hope is that you decline the offer. It is just before and at the offer point that you have the strongest negotiating position. So, if there are small elements of the job that are unattractive or unacceptable, the time to negotiate them is not at the beginning but nearer the end of the transaction. Also, let me stress the word negotiate. That is to say, negotiate versus issuing ultimatums. And, lastly, you have to ask yourself the viability of your point(s) of contention. If the job is listed to have 50% travel, but you don't want to travel more than 25%-30%, consider the distinction one mostly of how you work. Video meetings and other aspects of quality communications can often eliminate or reduce the need for physical travel. However, if the requirement is for 50% travel, and the travel is abroad and you are afraid to fly, well then you may have a real reason for declining. That will not be negotiated.

Remember, most job descriptions are someone's best guess as to needs, duties and requirements. It's not like medical practice. In practice a pediatrician doesn't do neurosurgery, but in business what you or others expect your job be and how it actually unfolds and develops can be quite different - and quite customized.

If you'd like to learn more, don't hesitate to contact me for an initial, no-charge, no-obligation Hallway Consult...

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