Thanks but no Thanks
September 2, 2009 4:56 PM   Subscribe

I just jumped through a lot of hoops (including references, projects, whatnot) to apply for a really good job I'm increasingly sure I don't actually want. The hiring manager wants to meet with me again Friday -- likely to make an offer. How do I handle this?

Other info: I applied for the job in early June, first interview was mid-August. Things have changed for the better at my current employer in that time, although the main problem -- they don't pay me enough and although they are willing to pay me more there is a wage freeze until sometime in 2010 -- isn't likely to improve soon. I work in the nonprofit world and the community here is very small ... I'm likely to need to stay in contact with everyone involved. Also, my stated salary requirements for the new job were significantly more than they'd budgeted (the hiring manger and I discussed this in some depth during the interview), and I'm fearful that they will have worked hard to make some sort of readjustment in order to make me the offer. There is also the (decreasing) chance that the organization I currently work for won't meet its fundraising goals and my position will end up being eliminated in the next year ... and then I'm stuck.

Thoughts on the best way to handle this meeting? I assume she'll give me the weekend to think it over, but I'm increasingly sure that I don't want to leave the (sweet but underpaid) job that I'm currently in.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like you have an emotional connection to your current job, which is natural. However, from my outsider's standpoint, would that many people (especially in the NP world) had your problem. You don't say why you don't want the new job, but I'd think better job security and better pay would be good motivators. You even say yourself that it's a better job.

Go to the meeting Friday, see what they have to say/offer. There's nothing dishonorable about telling them that you don't see it as a good fit, or, if you don't mind a little white lie, that your current job has stepped up and you think you're going to stay with them. To be sure, though, nobody would begrudge you moving on to greener pastures.

Of course there's no underestimating the value of a job you just plain like, but you describe more downsides with your current position than up. Are you sure your reticence is not just anxiety about change?
posted by rhizome at 5:13 PM on September 2, 2009

I'd go for more money and security. My experience has been that job conditions fluctuate - what's good now could be (and at least in my case often were) terrible in a month, or two months, or sixth, or whatever. You could love your new job, you could hate it. That stuff is pretty subjective. That's not to say you can't make educated guesses about where things will be, but that's just where they are. Money's more objective. Yeah, there's more to life than money, but your current gig doesn't sound very stable and across-the-board salary freezes, while a sign that the company is taking it's financial situation very seriously (hopefully for the better of all), it's still not a very good sign. Another thought - if they really value you where you are, despite a 'wage freeze' they should figure out a way to get you more money. If they don't, even given difficult times, you'll know where you stand.
posted by drobot at 5:35 PM on September 2, 2009

I would go for career satisfaction over money every time. As with most things, decide what makes you happier in the long run and go for it.
posted by elder18 at 6:18 PM on September 2, 2009

If the existing job is better, due to improving conditions, figure out how much more money would make you move? I know it's a nonprofit, but your value to the organization is, unfortunately, usually set on the way in. If they're already jumping through hoops, you're in a position to get them to offer maximum dollars, or other benefits (extra week of vacation, etc).
posted by wflanagan at 6:42 PM on September 2, 2009

The question is not which job should the OP take -- it's how to handle the meeting.

I think you should go and hear what they have to offer. If there's any possibility you might change your mind, take the weekend and think it over.

But once you are positive you don't want it -- even if that's at the meeting on Friday -- don't string them along, tell them right away. You don't have to get into specifics. You don't need to treat it like kind of horrible diss or gaffe. It's totally normal for a candidate to decide not to accept an offer.

Just tell them you appreciate their offer and think they're swell, but you've reconsidered leaving your current job. Shake hands, part friends.
posted by ottereroticist at 7:30 PM on September 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you are fairly sure you -don't- want the new job then the ball is in their court. See what the new place's commitment is to you. It is possible they will show a level of commitment (money, flexibility, other thing you value) that you had not expected. The reason I say this is your current place is referring to a policy. Policies are breakable when necessary and the fact they're not breaking it for you represents an excuse and not a commitment: in other words they perceive you as not necessary enough to them, and they know the going rate for your specialty. Waiting until 2010 for a review that might give you an increase then is not the same as getting your new suitor to go a couple extra miles. They may impress you and if they do take the whole weekend to turn the matter over in your head. Keep your options open as long as possible. There is no moral stigma attaching to that.
posted by jet_silver at 9:05 PM on September 2, 2009

People change jobs because they aren't happy with where they are at, and/or if they are happy with where they are, they think they can increase their happiness with something else.

In this case, it sounds like you're not finding something better, and things are getting better with where you are at.

If you have the time, go to the meeting and listen to what they have to say.

If there is something new said that that you weren't expecting, then consider whether you want the weekend to consider the new information.

If what they have to say is what you expected, and that continues to not be what's required to make you move, then say so.

You've given us all the explanations you need to offer: "Since I applied, things have improved for the better at my current employer, so I have less reason to be looking for a change."
posted by jjderooy at 9:22 PM on September 2, 2009

I'd go along, and then make outrageous salary demands.
posted by pompomtom at 10:45 PM on September 2, 2009

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