Pros and Cons of Accepting a Low Offer

You’ve looked and looked for a job.  An offer finally comes, but it’s not all that great.  Take it, try to negotiate, or turn it down?  Ever been faced with that scenario?  Today I’ll share some points to ponder as you weigh your decision.

First, let’s look at trying to negotiate something better.  Most positions have a pay range associated with them.  If you want the job, be careful not to draw that proverbial line in the sand where you basically say, “I won’t accept this position unless it pays XXX.”   You may find they simply say, “Sorry, we can’t get there.  Have a nice life.”  And you’re gone.  Maybe ask about an early performance review, more vacation, etc., in case they can’t pay more in salary.

Now let’s move to the advantages of taking a job paying less than you’d expected.  I realize it sounds counterintuitive to take the job, particularly if you’re currently employed.  But wait.  Think of the reasons why you’re looking for a new job in the first place.

Sure, $$$ can be a factor in looking, but what about the company’s financial stability… the actual job content… your work/life balance… the chance for a challenging role with growth potential… the chance to move into a new and exciting industry?

If you’re employed and your job lacks some or all of the above, maybe taking a slight step back to land in a better environment is worth it.  And if you’re unemployed, the same thought process plays out.

Here’s another reason to take a role paying less than you’d want – or perhaps less than your previous job:  opportunity cost.  It’s defined as the cost of an alternative that must be forgone in order to pursue a certain action. Put another way, the benefits you could have received by taking an alternative action.

For example, if you’re unemployed and had been making $36,000, by sitting out three months, that’s $9,000 in income above the $36,000 you’d eventually have to make up in your next job just to break even.  And this doesn’t factor in health care, the costs of other benefits, or the emotional and physical toll associated with the stress of being unemployed.

One last reason to take a step back in pay deals with the marketplace and a company’s ability to meet your old income.  Just because you made xxx in your previous job, that doesn’t mean your new employer can or will match that total, particularly when you’re moving from a large company to a small one or are changing industries.  Remember, part of the reason for your higher previous salary was your tenure there.

Lastly, the negative in taking a lower paying job is obvious.  Less money means less buying power.  It also creates “job hopper” concerns in recruiters’ minds when you turn right around and look to leave that employer.

It’s a calculated risk you take in accepting or turning down a low offer.  Good luck!