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9 Reasons to Turn Down a Job Offer

9 Reasons to Turn Down a Job Offer


When searching for your next life science job, it’s important to remember that there’s more to a job than a salary. When deciding whether or not to accept a job offer, you need to consider the entire job package, including things like company culture and career progression as well as the salary and benefits on offer.
  • Author Company: PharmiWeb.Jobs
  • Author Name: Lucy Walters
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Editor: Lucy Walters Last Updated: 10-Feb-2023

When searching for your next life science job, it’s important to remember that there’s more to a job than a salary. When deciding whether or not to accept a job offer, you need to consider the entire job package, including things like company culture and career progression as well as the salary and benefits on offer.

In this article, we’ve highlighted 9 reasons you might want to turn down a job offer, with advice on steps you can take before turning it down.

The Salary Isn’t High Enough

When going into a job interview, you should always be prepared to negotiate your salary based on research you have done yourself. Know the average salary range of the role you’re applying for, remembering to factor in industry, location, and levels of experience into your research. That way, when it comes to discussing salary, you can negotiate confidently, using your data to back up your points. If the company still can’t offer you the salary you need after this discussion, it may be time to look for an alternative job.

The Benefits Aren’t Right for You

You might find that the job you’re being offered doesn’t have many benefits that are right for you personally. For example, you may have been offered a homeworking job at a company that has a hybrid approach to working, and therefore still has an office. If the benefits are full of things that on-site employees will benefit from, such as a free on-site gym, support with commuting costs and fun office activities, you may struggle to make the most out of what’s on offer.

Before turning down the job offer, ask if there is any flexibility on the benefits you receive. Perhaps instead of making the most out of the office gym, you could receive a discount on one local to you. Rather than only organising fun activities for those in the office, the company could consider more virtual socials too. 

The Commute is a Struggle

A lengthy, challenging commute may make going to work a lot less enjoyable, especially if your commute negatively impacts your work-life balance. Make sure to practice the commute at the times you’d be travelling to make sure it’s something you can manage full-time. If you find it’s a struggle, ask if there is any flexibility both in terms of where you work and when you work before turning down the offer. Starting work at 10am instead of 9am for example may make the morning commute less stressful.

The Work is Either too Challenging or Not Challenging Enough

Although you want to be confident in your job interview, never oversell your skills and abilities, as you’ll soon find yourself struggling in a job that you can’t actually succeed in. Similarly, if you undersell your skills and abilities, you could find yourself in a role that isn’t stimulating enough for you and isn’t developing the skills you want to develop.

If you’ve done neither of the above, but the work still seems too challenging, ask for clarity on the training you’ll be given, and the support you’ll receive from your team before turning down the offer. If the work seems too easy, ask for clarity on where this role could take you, and the opportunities you’ll have to learn new skills and expand your knowledge along the way.

You Don’t Think You’d Get Along Well with Your Manager

It’s a known fact that most of the time, people don’t leave companies, they leave people. Not getting on with your manager can really get in the way of you enjoying your job and being able to communicate with them effectively to be productive.

Whilst you don’t really know someone until you start working with them, ask questions on/look out for some of the following:

  • What are they looking for from their new hire?
  • How well do they communicate with you throughout the entire process?
  • How do they describe their work style?
  • How do they describe the dynamics of the team/department?
  • Do you see yourself building a rapport with them? Do you share any common ground?
  • What does your gut say about them?

Remember that you don’t need to be best friends with your manager, or even have huge amounts in common with them, but you do need to work well with them.

The Company Culture Doesn’t Feel Right

Sometimes, the company culture might just be the wrong fit for you. For example, if you’re someone who prefers to work quietly and independently, you might not thrive in an open-plan environment where collaboration is central to the work you do.

Ask plenty of questions during your interviews about what the company culture is really like, and do your research on the company blog, company social media pages and employee social media pages for further insight. If your interview is in person, really take the time to analyse what’s around you, and how people are working together. If you still don’t think the culture is right for you, try to identify what it is that you don’t like, and ask yourself if this is something that could be changed, or if it's something you could adapt to. If not, then it might be time to think about a job elsewhere.

There Isn’t Any Flexibility

Although many pharma companies have shifted to more flexible ways of working since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, some will have remained quite strict on how, when, and where employees work. If you’ve been offered a job with no flexibility in the contract, ask if there is room for negotiation on this before turning down the offer.

Before you negotiate on this, be prepared to talk about how you could still do your job effectively following a more flexible working pattern, using examples of how you have done so in the past to validate your arguments.

There Isn’t Room for Progression

Always ask about opportunities for career development during the job interview process. Remember it’s not just about how many promotions you can get, and how far up the company you can move. It’s also about the skills you could develop, and other areas of the organisation your role could lead you to. Lateral mobility is just as important as vertical mobility, and if your hiring manager can’t give you a straight answer on how your development will be managed, then this may be a red flag.

You’ve Accepted Another Offer

You may have been offered a job elsewhere, or even a counteroffer from your current employer. If this is the case, always notify the organisation as soon as possible to allow them to continue their search for the right candidate. This will also help you to stay on good terms with the company if you want to join them in the future.

If you’ve been offered a counteroffer by your current employer, make sure you’re certain that the extras they’re offering are enough to keep you satisfied long term. Remember all the reasons you wanted to leave in the first place, and also ask yourself why these extras weren’t offered to you before.