When you spend eight hours a day, five days a week in one place, it’d be nice to actually like it. But when you’ve been in a spiral of unemployment and getting one interview is like finding 50 quid on the street, you’re expected to take it. Because it’s a job and you need a job, right?
But our guess is people will think it’s ridiculous to even consider rejecting a job offer – especially with rising unemployment among 16-25 year olds – so it’s tempting to jump and say “YES PLEASE I ACCEPT” to anything that comes your way. But apparently most graduates are playing hard to get and are choosing to hold out for better, more senior positions.
To get to the bottom of this, we reached out and asked if anyone had turned down a job after uni or otherwise. Natalie Todd, currently an Account Manager at Cake Group, turned down a job offer just after she graduated. Collette Naden finished a fixed contract placement just after uni and was effectively unemployed, but turned down the first job offer than came her way.
We’ve already created an ultimate guide to your first salary, but here it is in brief: know what you should be paid (roughly), and don’t accept something that forces you to live off Super Noodles. Natalie graduated in 2011, and got offered her dream graduate job at a huge luxury designer brand. “Through a contact I met at a short internship, I got offered a job as a PR and Social Assistant. The job description was that of a full-time employee, however it was positioned as a year-long internship.” Natalie explained that the salary was really low and she felt like they were taking advantage of her. “They offered minimum wage and said it was a good deal, but my feeling was that they were employing young talent and telling them it was a great opportunity.” It all worked out for Natalie who quickly nabbed a Social Media Manager role at YO! Sushi. Yay to sticking with your gut.
“Pay was a factor for me,” says Collette. “It was only three days a week, plus travel, which meant the wage wouldn’t have allowed me to live. I could have got freelance projects to up my work load, however this role could involve me covering events last minute, and could have been tricky to negotiate with a second employer.”
Granted, you’re likely to consider this before you actually apply for the job, but when all you want is that perfect job and you find it, odds are you’ll apply anyway and worry about the commute/relocating later. But after you’ve travelled to the interview, you’ll have a much better idea of your place of work. Is the commute so horrifying that you’re going to be a) broke and 2) be exhausted by the time you reach work at 9am? Can you see yourself logging on to SpareRoom.co.uk to find somewhere closer to live around here? Do you want to live around here? Is it a nice place? How will your lunch breaks be? ALL the questions. Ask yourself them.
Collette found out that her job would be working from home and that didn’t fit with her: “I actually prefer working in an office; I had only been a graduate for a year and I wanted to meet people and feel part of a team.”
In the interview you’re going to meet your boss, and probably a supervisor or your line manager, too. They’re trying to find out if they like you and can see themselves working with you, and it’s okay for you to do the same. No, you don’t have to worry about spending every lunch break with them and take cute trips to the coffee shop, but you’ve got to work with them every day. Does that worry you? It might be hard to gauge a lot through your hour-long interview, but first impressions count; remember that works both ways.
Kinda the most important part, and where alarm bells can go off in your head if you dislike the job description. Remember, an interview is for them to find out if you’ll be a good fit, but it’s also for you to find out if this is exactly what you thought it was. So the dreaded ‘do you have any questions?’ shouldn’t be taken halfheartedly; make sure you really know what the job involves. Natalie told us she turned down another job for this reason: “It was a really well paid job at a PR/Ad agency, but it wasn’t right for me creatively, and I wouldn’t have been working on the accounts I wanted to. At the time, I was nervous about saying no, because financially it would have been great, and even for career prospects. But I’m glad I stuck to my gut and a better offer came along that was right for me.”
This is going a bit deeper, but if the company’s morals, beliefs and values are very different to yours, it could cause a lot of frustration on your part every single day. Think about an extreme example – if you’re a vegan, could you work for a company that does animal testing? If you really want to work to benefit other people and help others, could you work somewhere which is only driven by money? Your beliefs might not be strong enough to warrant thinking about this, but if something really hits a nerve, chances are you’re not going to enjoy working there, no matter how fitting the job is.
And this is a big but: we’re not saying turn down any job offer that comes your way that isn’t perfect. Sometimes all you need is a foot in the door in the industry to be able to prove yourself and work your way into the perfect role. And it all very much depends on your own job search – having you been looking for weeks? Months? If you’ve been looking for six months and turn down a job it’ll be frowned upon, but if you’ve only been applying for weeks, it might make sense to hold out for that ideal opportunity. Either way you’ll know what’s best for you, and if you take a job just for the sake of it and hate it as much as being unemployed, is that progress?
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