It isn't every day that a terrific job opportunity comes your way. But sometimes, chasing our dream jobs is easier said than done. Here's why my colleagues and I turned down what could've been optimal roles earlier on in our working years -- and how we wound up at peace with our decisions nonetheless.
1. It wasn't my passion
Daniel B. Kline: In the early 2000s, when I was working in newspapers, I interviewed to be the chief digital officer for a well-run, family-owned newspaper company. I like the people involved, was well qualified for the job, and it paid a lot more than I was making as a daily newspaper editor.
I almost got hired. I was the lead candidate until the end, when at the last minute, someone more qualified applied. He was actually overqualified but he had to move to the area to care for an ailing parent.
He got hired over me. I probably would have hired him over me.
One of the people who interviewed me, however, was impressed enough that he called me a few days later and offered me a different job. I would've been working under the sales vice president creating new specialty products. My role would've been creative but separate from the day-to-day newspaper process.
I accepted it. It was more money, there was an upside in sales commissions, and it was flattering to be wanted. I also genuinely liked the people I would be working with.
A day later, I called the sales vice president back and told him that I had changed my mind. It was an interesting job, but being in a news environment where I wouldn't be involved in delivering the news would have been painful. It would have been one thing to change professions entirely, but doing something that wasn't my passion but was adjacent to what I wanted to do would have been a mistake.
Many years later, I worked with the person who offered me that job. He proved to be as delightful as I had thought, but I never regretted not taking his offer.
2. It was time for a different challenge
Jason Hall: Before I started writing for The Motley Fool, I had a pretty successful sales career, and actually had the opportunity to take what amounted to a sizable promotion. Instead, I left the company to pursue a career as a finance writer. And while it's certainly worked out quite well in hindsight, I was taking a substantial risk by walking away from a six-figure job to try my hand at something I had never done before.
So why take this big risk when I had a great opportunity to send my already-high income even higher? In short, because while the money was fantastic, the work wasn't fulfilling, and I was fortunate to be in a position to try my hand at something I was really passionate about. My wife had recently been promoted at her job, and the additional income and job security she had -- not to mention the benefits like healthcare -- meant we could afford the risk if it didn't work out.
I realize very few people are in such an enviable position to be able to walk away from a high-paying job just because it's not perfect. I can promise that it was still a very scary decision, and I questioned my sanity many times in the first couple of months after making the move, when those big paychecks weren't coming in anymore.
But looking back, making the decision to turn down the bigger paycheck and pursue work that was more fulfilling was the best career move I ever made.
3. There was too much travel involved
Maurie Backman: Years ago, I was offered the opportunity to sign on as a forensic accountant/analyst at a well-known company. The job itself fascinated me, and what was even more amazing was the fact that I was offered the job without having a solid background in accounting, auditing, or anything of the sort. But because I'd done some analysis work in the past and dealt with auditors at the hedge fund I worked for on a yearly basis, the company was willing to take me on.
To make the situation even more enticing, the salary would've been a nice bump from the already-decent salary I was making at the hedge fund. But I wound up turning down the offer for one key reason: travel.
For many folks, business travel is a part of life, and while I wouldn't have minded traveling occasionally for work purposes, this job would've taken me to a different city every other week. At the time, I had a serious boyfriend who eventually became my husband and a dog to take care of. I also had friends and family in the area who I wanted to keep seeing regularly, and I knew that taking that job would mean struggling to keep up with the people in my life who were most important to me.
So I turned the job down and never looked back. Granted, I still think it would've been cool to dabble in forensic accounting, and who knows -- if circumstances align, maybe the opportunity will present itself again. But taking a job with an intense travel schedule wasn't right for me at the time, nor would it be the right move for me today. And that's why I'm totally OK with the fact that I passed that offer up.
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