Should You Accept A Job You Don’t Really Want?

by | Finding A Job

While many job seekers would be elated to receive a job offer, particularly in the current employment market, what happens when you’re offered a role you don’t want but need to take?

Are there factors you should keep in mind before accepting a position that doesn’t excite you? Continue reading to learn what to do if you find yourself with a job offer you’re not 100% sure about.

Is It Okay To Take A Job You Don’t Want?

There are a host of reasons why you might accept a role you don’t want, and all of them are acceptable. While it would be great if everyone had an exceptionally well-paying job that they loved, excitement is not a requirement.

In other words, you can take a job you don’t want, and you don’t have to justify your reasoning for accepting it to anyone. Period.

One of the most common reasons for accepting a mediocre job is the need to pay bills, and there’s nothing wrong with accepting a position you don’t want in order to continue living. After all, we live in a capitalist society where most people need to work to survive.

Similarly, many people accept jobs to maintain health insurance or immigration status. Again, you must prioritize your health and livelihood, so don’t feel guilty for taking a role to merely get by.

Another common reason people accept jobs they don’t want is because they’re “running away” from their current position with the hopes that the next one will be better. Although there’s nothing wrong with this approach, try to shift toward finding a job you can “run toward,” since enthusiasm can be a stronger motivator and lead to long-term career satisfaction.

[Read: “Can I Hire Someone To Find Me A Job?” Answered]

What To Do If You’re Offered a Job You Don’t Want?

Now, if you’re offered a position you don’t necessarily want but feel obligated to take it, here are a few things to bear in mind:

1. Consider the long-term potential.

If you admire the company but aren’t a fan of the specific position, you might consider using it as a “lily pad” that you can rest on before moving on to your target role.

Keep in mind that many companies require you to stick in an initial role for 6 or 12 months before being considered for a move to another department. That said, many companies have internal mobility programs to retain and promote their top talent.

2. Don’t halt your job search.

You can also continue to look for opportunities externally after you accept the position. However, if you leave your new company shortly after joining, you may burn bridges with the employer, as well as anyone who referred you to the role. That said, many people understand that if a “dream job” arises, you need to take it!

3. Remember that first impressions can be inaccurate.

Lastly, know that your first impression may have been wrong, and you may even end up loving the role and company. (The opposite is possible, of course, too.) Remember that there’s only so much you can learn about a company’s culture from the outside.

Should You Take A Job You Don’t Want?

While only you can decide whether you should take a job you’re not truly interested in, many professionals wrestle with whether to accept an inferior role or wait out for “the one.”

When unemployed, you will likely find a sense of relief in accepting a role, even when it’s not your ideal job, as it relieves the stress of needing to secure “any” employment and will allow you to focus on finding the right fit.

On the other hand, if you’re employed and simply “running away” from your current workplace, the facade of the new position will likely quickly evaporate, and you will find yourself on the job market again in a few months, if not quicker.

[Read: 8 Ways To Get Over A Bad Day At Work]

Is It Bad To Accept A Job Offer And Keep Looking?

So, if you do accept the less-than-ideal position, should you continue looking for that dream role, or should you call off your search?

I might get some flak from employers for this, but I don’t believe it’s a bad idea to keep submitting applications and interviewing for roles after you receive a job offer, particularly in today’s employment market.

This is one of the reasons to wait until after your probationary period has ended before updating your LinkedIn profile with your new company info or announcing your role on the platform.

Importantly, though, unless the role you take is contract or temporary, you’ll want to be discreet regarding your job search, as you don’t want to alert your new employer that you’re already trying to find an exit path.

What To Do If You Regret Accepting A Job?

Speaking of which, what should you do if you accept a job and regret your decision?

Although conducting adequate research and asking the right questions while interviewing can minimize the likelihood of regretting your decision, it’s still possible that you’ll be unhappy in your new job.

This is another reason to wait until you’ve been at your new organization for a few months before updating your LinkedIn profile. It gives you time to test the waters and ensure the company and position match what was advertised during the interview process.

If you do end up disliking your new role, even after you’ve given yourself ample time to adjust, you’ll want to review and weigh your available options, which might include:

  • Speaking with your manager or HR representative about switching roles or departments.
  • Returning to your previous company.
  • Continuing your job search (see the section above).
  • Trying to stick out the job and discover whether you can tolerate it.

Final Thoughts On Accepting A Job You Don’t Want

Only you can decide if it makes sense to accept a job you don’t want, and since it’s easier said than done, try not to feel bad about your ultimate decision. At the end of the day, you must look out for yourself. You’ve got this!

A version of this article first appeared on the Career Tool Belt blog with the title, “Should You Accept a Job You Don’t Really Want?”

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

Dr. Kyle Elliott is the founder and career coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com. His expertise is in Silicon Valley and high-tech. As a result of working with Dr. Elliott, senior managers and executives have landed jobs at Meta, Amazon, Google, and nearly every other tech giant you can imagine.

A trusted career expert, Dr. Elliott’s words have been featured on Business Insider, CNBC, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Fortune, and The New York Times, among dozens of other leading publications. He has been recognized as a Best Career & Interview Coach, Best Resume Writer for Silicon Valley/Tech Managers & Executives, and LinkedIn Top Voice (the platform’s highest honor).

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