Job Offers Come In, Salary Goes Down

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Today’s unemployed job seekers haven’t had the easiest time finding work. That pesky recession – over or not – has put a damper on career prospects for millions of Americans. The job situation is more complicated than applying and waiting for an offer, finds a new survey by Personified, CareerBuilder’s talent-consulting arm. Job seekers aren’t only looking for a job, they want to find one that suits their lifestyle and goals.

Seventeen percent of unemployed workers have received at least one job offer since they became unemployed, yet 92 percent of them declined the offers. Why? As you might expect, pay was the most commonly cited reason candidates turned down a job. In fact, 54 percent of surveyed workers say the salary offered was at least 25 percent less than their most recent salaries.

Why you might say no
While money is the premier reason to say no to an offer, it’s not the only one. Job seekers turned down jobs because the commute was too long, the job title was too low, the position was not in their preferred field, or the opportunity to advance was too limited.

At first glance you might think, “If you’re offered a job in this economy, why wouldn’t you take it?” Sure, in theory any job is better than no job. In reality, job offers require careful examination. For example, if you’re offered a job at an office 20 miles away, you have to consider paying for gas and the wear and tear on your car. And you need to make sure your work attire is appropriate, which can mean buying new clothes or adding a weekly dry-cleaning bill. If you’re a parent, will you need to find a sitter or pay for  day care? Add up these expenses and you could be losing money by taking the first job that comes your way.

For job seekers who can afford to be selective about offers, long-term benefits or setbacks influence  decision making. A lower position or reduced salary can cause a worker to regress in his career and have to work several years to once again reach the previous level. In another scenario, if a worker thinks her ideal job is within reach, she wouldn’t want to accept an offer and leave three months later when the better one comes along.

A complicated decision
Further proof that job searches are more nuanced processes than simply saying “yes” or “no” can be found in the breakdown of who is searching and how frequently:

  • Workers with post-graduate degrees look more frequently and apply to more jobs than those with any other levels of education.
  • Workers with no college degree apply more frequently and to more jobs than workers with a college diploma.
  • Workers with a college degree but no post-graduate diploma have the least aggressive approach to finding work.

You can speculate on why this is, but no one theory works for every job seeker. For example, post-graduate workers might earn more and be older, but the implications of that can differ. It might mean they have bigger savings accounts to live off of and no young children to occupy their time, so they can spend their days aggressively searching and applying without distraction. Or it might mean that they have educational debt and a lifestyle with bigger bills and that, if retirement is looming, they need to search aggressively to maintain their lifestyle.

No two job seekers are identical, and that holds true for each demographic. Similarly, workers whose previous annual income was $100,000 or higher spend more time searching for jobs than workers at any other income level. Do they need to find a job quickly because of their expensive lifestyles or are high-paying jobs harder to come by and therefore require more intense searches? The answer depends on the individual.

Health benefits are important for many workers, and losing those benefits is a significant issue. Of surveyed unemployed workers, 49 percent do not have health insurance, and for those unemployed for more than a year, the amount increases to 55 percent. And for all the talk we’ve seen in the news of extending unemployment benefits, most job seekers don’t plan to change their approach to finding work because of benefits. Fifty-two percent of workers surveyed don’t expect an extension to affect their search, 31 percent think it will allow them to find a job that is in line with their career goals, and 15 percent think it will put a new sense of urgency on their searches.

No one knows the thought that goes into mulling a job offer better than today’s job seekers. Since you began searching for a job, has your experience been similar to these job seekers? Have you had to turn down a job because the pay was too low? Are you holding out for a job that satisfies your financial needs and career goals? Are these job seekers being too picky? Let us know in the comments.

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  2. I graduated with a BS in May 2009. I began job hunting aggressively, but was already working 3 part time jobs while attending school. Once out of school I took a 4th part time job to help pay bills. I am now working one full time temp job plus two part time jobs – I am still job-hunting, but my aggressiveness has slacked because I’m busy and fairly content with the work I’m doing – I keep looking because there is no job security in what I’m doing. I am one of the fortunate who can afford to be selective, but the offers are few and far between, despite a degree and experience and a willigness to relocate.

  3. You give a lot of information about people looking for jobs. I think that everyone applies to any job that can work for them. However, when finding a consulting job, for example, you need to look at consulting salaries as well as what life would be like with different companies. This is the only way to find the right fit for you. Vault offers a lot of invaluable insider information, as well as job listing. They really helped me find my path. I would definitely suggest checking them out.

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  5. I just turned down an offer of $17/hour. I made $20/hour in 1995, fresh out of school with no experience and more talent than practical skills in graphic design. It’s hard to not be insulted, when I’ve been billing 5 to 7x that/per hour for the past few years. But I’d rather work retail gigs at minimum wage and cover my bills than reset my professional rate so low.

    Also, I’d really like to know: with a resume on this site, how to keep every pyramid, ponzi, “investment opportunity”, and insurance sales job from contacting me? It’s a complete waste of my time and theirs. I’m NOT interested. What key words should I be inserting, and where?

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  12. I am one of those 55 year olds with an engineering (electronics) degree
    and years of experience. My work is now being done in a China Development Center. My oldest son is in high school and I have decided
    that my first priority is keeping him in school. I have been looking for gainful employment in my field and geography for 6 months with no offers. It’s difficult
    not to have an attitude. I am learning how to be poor.

  13. I graduated with a Bachelor Degree in 2004 and have looked aggressively for a full time position. I went to College to break the glass ceiling that loomed over me – I couldn’t advance further in my career without a degree, but once obtaining a degree I was then over quallified for my position. Now I have a degree and I am actively looking for a job to pay for my education expenses. We moved 3 years ago and the economy has been so tight that I am faced with 1000 other applicants that are applying for the same job as myself. As for turning down a job offer – I have not turned down legitimate job offers but I recieve many pyramiad and investment offers (if i wanted to invest money into a business I wouldn’t be looking for work!). Pyramiad schemes galore – and a waste of my valuable time talking to people with no real intent on hiring people to do actual paying work. Within the companies that are hiring legitimate jobs many post jobs and then have decided to restructure or downsize and hire internally than take on a new hire.

  14. I was temping and another agency sent me to a full time interview. I turned it down because it was making less with more work-no way.
    I turned down a temping assignment because I would be working in the basement of a hotel near Grand Central Station with bomb sniffing dogs outside-no way. If I have to be at a place 7 to 8 hous a day, I have to consider the amount of work, salary and location.

  15. This is basic supply and demand. There’s a large supply of labor available, but very little demand for that labor, so naturally the price of that labor (wages) will decrease.

  16. I haven’t turned down a job but I do feel my time has been wasted doing some interviews. Case in point the last one the guy I did the guy talked so fast I had to ask him to repeat some things and he acted as if he already picked someone trying to rush me out of the interview and barely answer my question. I get tired of this BS if you picked someone already just call me and tell me not to even bother to come in for the interview. Another thing is just the straight up lies they tell like “you’ll be a manger in 6 months” or “you’ll advance soon if you stick with us” I get tired of the lies, BS and the run around it is annoying and a waste of my time.

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