In Transition: No is Not a Bad Word

My mom used to tell me, “Do every job you have to the best of your ability, even if you’re just a toilet cleaner. You never know when the CEO will walk into the bathroom and notice your efforts and reward you”. My toilets are sparkling and it’s paying off. I’ve been approached about job potential opportunities, and I’ve found some on my own. It’s in the evaluation of those opportunities that I’ve learned how important it is to be able to say No.

No is not a bad word. It’s all in how you say it and the reasons behind it. Don’t get me wrong, saying no to a job is never easy. It’s even more difficult in the middle of a recession when you work in a field that’s been decimated by layoffs. But I think it’s a perfectly reasonable response to a job offer. What’s important is that you know why you’re saying no, and that you communicate those reasons clearly, concisely, and professionally.

I’ve recently met Iris Grimm, who is a career coach. One of her sayings is “What price are you willing to pay for your prize?” Think about that. If your prize is a job, what sacrifices or prices are you willing to pay for it? It’s such a simple question that involves knowing yourself, your values, your priorities, and your vision. It also encompasses understanding the realities of your world and professional landscape. To know what price you’ll pay, you synthesize disparate groups of information. You evaluate your understanding of self, realities, and the job offer. And, as I’ve learned, it also involves communication.

There are a lot of experts, websites, books, columns, blogs, and what-have-you on how to conduct your job search. But for me, it’s all about boiling it down to the intangibles. Not the resumes and cover letters and networking, but rather self-awareness, professional awareness, evaluation, and communication.

Self Awareness → Career/Field/Professional Awareness Evaluation Communication

Once you know who you are and what your non-negiotiables are, then you apply the realities of the world to yourself and the job offer. This is the evaluation. This is also where you determine what price you’re willing to pay for your prize. So far for me, the price has been too high. A 4 hour commute or a 60 hour work-week doesn’t fit into my priorities.  If I accepted a job, even a great paying job, with a 4 hour commute or 12 hour work-days, I can guarantee I’d quit within a year. And for that entire year I’d be miserable because I wouldn’t be in alignment with who I am and what I want. And the company would be miserable because they’d have to start the entire search all over again.

And this is where No comes in. I had to tell the recruiter, “No thank you. I have certain priorities and non-negotiables, and that long of a commute is something that I can’t do. However, I know someone who I think may be a good fit for this position – would it be OK if I sent them your contact information?” And that’s the other thing I’ve learned – if you say No, have an alternative ready!

About Tricia Ransom

Patricia Ransom: wife, daughter, friend. Learning, laughing, living. Chicago, Illinois, downstate. Townie, urbanite, traveller. Note: The opinions expressed on this blog belong solely to me and should not be assumed to reflect the opinions of any of my employers past, current, or future.
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1 Response to In Transition: No is Not a Bad Word

  1. Ray Colon says:

    Hi Patricia, saying “no” during this recession can’t be easy, even with the recognition that the position is not a good fit for the reasons you’ve stated. The initial impulse may be to accept the position, for obvious reasons, thinking that you will continue looking after taking the job. I’ve been in that situation and what occurred in my case is that I didn’t continue the job search. Instead, I did what many would do when starting a new job — I placed all of my efforts into doing the job well. The predictable result was that those feelings of misery related to my initial misgivings slowly surfaced and I found myself feeling trapped. So, if you can hold out for a position that is better fit, I’d agree that you will probably be better off in the long run. Ray


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