When to Say "No" to a Really Good Job Offer?
Well, of course the simple answer to this question is that if the job offer is a really good one, there is no reason to say no to it! However, as with everything else, what seems simple on one level can be quite complex on another. There are times when the job itself offers everything that the applicant could ever want but when it would be the wrong thing to do to accept the position.
One of the most obvious examples of such a time would be when an ideal job offer comes just months before a cross-country move is planned. You might have put in a resume with your dream business even a year ago, long before you planned to move from New York to San Francisco, and forgotten all about it. Now, seemingly out of the blue, here they are calling you to tell you that they are desperate for people with your qualifications. Well, given that you have employment, housing, and a new spouse waiting for you on the other coast, it's clear that you will say no to the offer (not that it won't hurt). Other situations would include the recent birth of a child for whom you are the primary caregiver when it is a job that would require abundant overtime, the recent acceptance of another job while, if not ideal, is good enough to keep and see what happens, and other similar cases.
However, there are less obvious reasons for turning down dream jobs also. What if the job will require a one-hour commute each way, with no public transportation to take the place of driving? Even if you don't mind driving too much, you also have to think about the cost of fuel, the future of fuel, the possibility that your car will break down and you will have to take time off work, the fact that you will have that much less time to spend in your own home, with family and friends, and other factors. Especially if you've never done such a commute before, you need to think very carefully before you decide it will be fine -- perhaps take a week to decide, and every day of that week, do the drive so you can really have a sense of what it will be like.
Another situation in which one might turn down a perfect job is when the job, while great, is still unfair in one way or another. For example, let's say you get a job offer that is twice as much money as you are used to earning -- that sounds great, but then you find out that the males in the same position you will be working are earning much more than that! If you find out that this is the case across the board in this company, now is the time to walk away before you find out just how it feels to work in a truly discriminatory environment where you can be sure that if you experience unequal treatment, there will be no chance you can get justice.
Of course, the hope is that a dream job will come along at the right time, and the reality is that one isn't in the position to turn down such a thing all that often. But it can definitely happen, and it's important to have the strength and courage to do so if it's the right thing for you.