Should You Accept that Lousy Job Offer? Yes

Last Updated Aug 12, 2011 9:49 AM EDT

Shelly Schwartz at CNBC.com asks the following question:
You're out of work, you can afford to keep looking and you just got a job offer that can best be described as, eh. What do you do?
The answer the follows is long and filled with advice from experts that essentially say that as long as you can afford to say no, you should turn it down. They caution that with a lower level, lower paying job you won't be able to put as much money in your 401k, future raises and promotions will be based off the lower salary and you may hate it so much that you'll quit in 3 months, making your resume even worse than it is now.

Seriously? Are we such a nation of whiners that career experts are telling people not to accept jobs on the fear that they will hate them so much that they'll quit after 3 months, without another job lined up? If you are such a whiner, I have no sympathy. I tend to go back to the idea that they call it work because it's, you know, work. It's not like people wake up every morning and say, "Well, time to get ready for "fun" today! Where do you "fun" every day?" If you expect your life is going to be that way you're going to spend a lot of time being miserable because you're not having fun.

Not to say that you can't pursue your dreams and aspirations and try to find a career that fits your talents, but at the end of the day what you need to do is work.
Making the decision to accept a job you're not thrilled about can be a daunting one. After all, it is true that less money means less money in your 401k, and a smaller lifetime earnings. However, it's also true that you don't contribute any money to your 401k when you're unemployed and food stamps don't raise your lifetime earnings either.

The problem is, with unemployment continuing to be high, and more people are out of work for extended periods of time, you cannot count on a better job appearing in a month or two months or even a year. I'm reminded of those people who are trying to sell their houses without lowering the price. Instead of cutting their losses and running, they pay the mortgage on a house they don't need all the while their house continues to lose value.

The reality is, you continue to lose value the longer you are unemployed as well. I know it stinks. I know it's unfair. I know that companies shouldn't exclude the unemployed from consideration, but they do. That's a reality you have to face.

Another reality is that, just like the house you want to sell, you don't set the value, the market does. In response to my recent article, Are You Too Old to Get Hired, commenter zEthics wrote:
I'm 54 with a BS Aerospace Engineering, MBA and 30 years of solving complex business problems. I too believe I am unemployable. Why would any employer look at my resume when they can get someone half my age with a fraction of my accomplishments for half the price?
If the job they need doing can be done by someone "with a fraction of the accomplishments and for half the price" they would be fools to hire you. Age isn't the issue here. None of us go to the endodontist to get our teeth cleaned. We get that done by a much lower paid dental hygienist. So, why do we claim that we should be paid like an endodontist to do a hygienist job? It doesn't make sense.

Job paths aren't steady climbs any more and people who insist on holding out for the ideal may find themselves out in the cold for a very long time. It is easier to find a job when you have a job and when your ideal position opens up next year you'll have a better chance of snagging it if you've been employed in the past year, regardless of what that employment was.

So, my advice? Unless you're currently juggling so many job interviews it's hard to keep track, or you have so much money saved up you don't really need additional income, when you get an offer, negotiate a fair salary for the job and take it.

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Photo by Sahaja Meditation, Flickr cc 2.0

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