In this economy, it seems like a crime not to accept any reasonable job offer. The nation's unemployment is at 9.1%, so consider yourself lucky to be employed or haveing that olive branch extended to you. Right? We used to be counseled not to jump right on the first job offer that comes our way, but now, who knows when the next one is coming?
Well, I'll argue that with the unemployment rates for PhDs being closer to 2%, you have a lot more leverage than the general population. In fact, I'm willing to put out this argument strongly enough to turn down two offers for the wrong job. I mean, jumping through the hoops of the job hunt isn't fun, but I am doing it so I can get a job that helps me move ahead and advance my career. I'm willing to settle for positions that aren't my dream job, but they've gotta provide me more opportunity, new skills, or a step into a direction I am interested in going.
My reasons for turning down jobs?
1) They won't add anything new or helpful to my resume. It's fairly easy to pick up a semester of teaching if you are in the right place at the right time. But I have enough teaching experience to know that I'm not interested in being a professor, and probably enough teaching experience to make the case for being able to teach in other contexts (like training, or giving seminars or something). So what would teaching another semester do for me? Give me a job (a plus), but keep me on a semester long contract where I might be too busy to pursue opportunities outside the classroom (big minus). I opted to use my time to find a better match for my interests.
2) There's no way forward. I also turned down a job with poor pay, not just because of the poor pay, but because it wasn't clear that I could be promoted out of that position, or would be in a good geographical location to network my way into better positions. Like I said, I am willing to make compromises to reach my long term goals, but I still want to reach my long term goals.
I am looking for a career that I can be passionate about, no matter what direction it takes me. That's why I've committed so much time to it so far, so I really don't want to sell myself short or give up on the opportunity to get engaged in some meaningful work. I'm really hoping this gamble will pay off.