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How Flexible Should You Be When Accepting a Job?

How Flexible Should You Be When Accepting a Job?

Margaret Steen, for Monster

In tough times, job seekers are often advised to be flexible about issues from commute length to salary to job title. But while it’s true that you have to be realistic, some compromises may end up hurting you more than they help.

“I don’t believe that you just cave and take anything,” said Mary Jeanne Vincent, a career coach in Monterey, California, and owner of WorkWise. “I have an underlying philosophy that you always sell value.”

Steve Levin, CEO of Leading Change Consulting & Coaching in Portola Valley, California, draws a distinction between what he calls “healthy resiliency and begrudging compromise.” One is a reasonable response to a challenging market. The other is a self-defeating trade-off.

To tell the difference, experts suggest asking these six questions:

How Badly Do You Need Money?

If you’re about to lose your home or are having trouble putting food on the table, you may need to take whatever job is offered.

Will the Job Make You Miserable?

Taking a job that’s not right for you increases the risk that you’ll be laid off again within a few months — something that can make it even harder to find the next job. If you will feel resentful rather than excited about the job, you might be better off continuing your search.

Can You Explain Why You’re Taking It?

If you take a job that’s less than your previous one, you’ll need to be able to explain this apparent step backward the next time you’re looking. Saying you couldn’t find anything else is not likely to impress an interviewer.

But if you have a good reason for taking a position — to gain experience in a new industry, for example, or to learn a new skill — a step down doesn’t have to hurt you.

Next Page: What’s Most Important to You? →


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