Know When To Say No

No is the ultimate negative response and for many of us it is probably the most difficult answer to verbalize.  Maybe it is because as a young child it was one of the first words we ever formed and our parents were aghast at how often we came to use it!  Many of us were raised to say yes as often as possible but in retrospect was it the easy way out for most parents?

Nancy Reagan back in the 80’s came up with the anti-drug slogan “Just Say No,” and in many ways we should learn from that campaign when we are in a job search.  In our haste to find a job, any job, we sometimes grasp for anything that will ultimately gain us employment (almost any employment).  Such an approach is a poor understanding of branding yourself while also giving the entire world the picture that indeed you are desperate for a new position.

Most employment experts will tell you that you need to be selective with whom you send resumes to and be very selective on whom you interview with.  Obviously it is important to get your name out for all to see and consider but you don’t want to give the impression to recruiters that you are willing to take almost anything to get out of the house and back to work.

There is nothing worse for your professional image than giving the impression that you are literally desperate for a new position and willing to take almost anything to get back into the game.  Desperate people take desperate actions and the last thing you want to do is take a position that really is not a good fit for either party and will ultimately end you up right back where you find yourself at right now.

Before you author a Cover Letter and forward a Resume, make sure you read the entire position posting.  Read the job description from cover to cover and check with Guidestar to see if the organization is as viable as they lead you to believe.  The organization is going to check you out (Google, background check, etc.) so why don’t you do the same?

I am also a true believer in what your gut tells you.  With all the information you have accumulated, how do you feel about this group and its potential for the future?  Are you comfortable with the tasks in the job description?  What happened with the previous CEO – that is usually a great precursor in how you will be handled?  Are they willing to pay you what you believe you are worth?  Are they willing to provide you the latitude to advance the organization or are you their caretaker?

I know it is important to get interview experience because it makes you a better candidate but let’s also be practical.  You must ask yourself, if I am offered this job am I willing to accept it?  It always stumps me when a candidate interviews for a job with the understanding that they won’t accept the position when offered.  Why are you wasting your time and the time of the recruiter and/or search committee?  You do know that eventually your name will be circulated within the community and that may not be a good thing!

It is so easy for all of us just to say yes because that is the answer most people expect.  Let’s face it, the positive answer ultimately will make everyone happy – except maybe the person who ultimately counts – you.  Don’t be forced into a situation just because you need a job.  Something else will eventually come your way and you will indeed be a happier employee at that time.

We all need to learn to say no.  It really is a great response and one that will ultimately get you a better job.

Dan Borschke is a Certified Association Executive who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associations in his career.  He is one of only 230 Association Executive worldwide who has been granted the prestigious designation of Fellow by the American Society of Association Executives since 1986.  He currently is between positions and has written more than 50,000 words or 100 blog postings on the topics of job search and career transition.  He can be contacted at:

Copyright:  MMXI.  Reprint of this article is permitted if the above paragraph is included.


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