Should You Accept a Job You Don't Really Want?

Pros and Cons of Settling for a Job You Don't Want

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In a perfect world, you’d never have to face the question of whether to take a job you don’t want. In the real world... well, sometimes things can get complicated. Maybe you’re facing the end of your unemployment benefits, and this is the only job offer on the table. Maybe your family is relocating because of your spouse’s work and you need a job in a hurry.

You now find yourself with a decision to make. Whether you take the job or hold out for a more promising opportunity, making a decision relatively quickly is a top priority. Only you know when it’s worth it to take a job you’re not crazy about, but these factors are something to consider.

Take It...

  • No, it's not perfect, but it has more pluses than minuses.

  • It's an appropriate stepping stone to the job of your dreams.

  • It will pay the bills when you have no other way of doing so.

...Or Run

  • You'll have less time to network, interview, and hunt for that perfect job.

  • You could be branded as a job-hopper if you make changes in quick succession.

  • The job will actually look bad and detract from your resume.

When Your Resistance Is Based on Fear

Career experts love to tell job seekers to listen to their gut. That’s good advice, but it’s also important to understand that your gut won’t always steer you in the right direction.

Your gut might tell you that you shouldn’t take the job because it feels scary. The role is a stretch for you, or the company is a startup and you’ve always worked for more established organizations. Maybe the job involves moving to a new city. Some of these might be perfectly OK reasons not to take it—as long as you’re not holding back because you’re afraid to grow.

At some point in your career, you’ll need to make a calculated leap. Make sure you’re weighing the pros and cons of the role before you decide that you don’t want to jump right now.

When the Good Outweighs the Bad

The hours are long, but the employer will look amazing on your resume. The job involves one duty you’re not crazy about, but four duties that are right up your alley. The role itself is nothing special, but the people are amazing, and the job above yours seems like it just might be your dream gig.

It might be worth it to put up with a few not-so-great things to build your resume and pick up a paycheck.

The Job Will Set You Up for Bigger and Better Things

Sometimes you have to take a job you’re not excited about just to get to the next thing. Maybe you hate administrative work, but the only way to the next rung on the ladder is to tough it out for a while. Or maybe the company is your dream employer and this job will get your foot in the door.

Look beyond today. Will this job set you up to be doing something you love next year? Will it set you on the path to a career that’s the perfect fit over time? If so, it might be worth it.

You Have No Other Options

Sometimes, you just need a paycheck or benefits. You have to take a job because it’ll allow you to survive and keep the lights on for another day. If that’s your situation, don’t hesitate. It’ll be easier to find something that’s a better fit when you’re not obsessing about staying afloat.

Just be sure not to mention your situation during the job interview. Employers understandably don’t want to hire people who are less-than-enthused about the role.

Do Your Best Work

Recruiting and hiring replacements is time-consuming and expensive, so employers logically want to hire workers who will stick around. But the flip side is that having a competent person on board for a few months is better for the organization than having someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing and doesn’t care on board for a year.

Put in the same effort that you would if you loved the job so you can feel good about taking the company’s money. Plus, you’ll be more likely to build relationships with your coworkers and this can create a strong network for the future. 

Keep Your End Goal in Mind

It’s important to do a good job, but it’s equally important not to forget that you’re there temporarily. Don’t get comfortable at a so-so job and forget that the goal is to love your work—or, at least, to like it a lot. Make time to update your resume, network, and look for a job that’s a better fit.

But don’t job search at work! Your work hours should be off-limits for updating your LinkedIn profile or connecting with hiring managers. You can’t get caught if you don’t do anything wrong.

Move on Without Guilt

As long as you give the employer your best work, you have nothing to feel bad about when you move on. After all, you can bet that the employer would lay you off—yes, even just a few months into your tenure—if that’s what's best for her business.

Make the Situation a Rare One

Another worry you might have is that you might end up with the checkered resume of a career job-hopper if you take an ugh job only to hit the highway as soon as something better comes along. Hiring managers would rather have employees with a solid work history, but you’ll increase your chances of staying there long-term if you hold out for a job that seems like a better fit.