When to Turn Down Work

by Sean Ross

2 min read

Turning away a job opportunity is really, really tough. It means forfeiting a chance to earn money, work for a potentially new client, and gain more exposure as a business professional. However, there are situations where the temptation to accept every job offer must be spurned, and the tough decision to turn down an opportunity the best move to make.

Preserving Work Quality

Eventually, taking on too much activity results in a deterioration of product or service quality. Failing to preserve the way your current customers are treated negatively impacts customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, and your company’s reputation. Evaluate new projects or jobs while considering the impact they may have on your current workload. Declining an opportunity may uphold what already exists, and if you are already in a strong position, this might be the most favorable option.

Better Future Options

Turning down a paid job can reserve resources for future, higher-paying jobs. Not accepting an opportunity might be difficult, but by doing so, nothing is lost. Only an opportunity cost is incurred, and this does not require any resources from your business. Saving time, energy, and resources for opportunities with better pay or higher profit margins ultimately results in a better financial outcome. This is especially the case for production facilities where scarce resources must be utilized in a manner to maximize profit.

Avoiding Failure

Turning down a job that is set up for failure takes maturity and foresight. A job may lack the required resources or timeframe for a successful completion. The project lead may lack the necessary experience or knowledge. The terms of the job may be ambiguous, and the client may be experiencing difficulty in meeting cash flow demands. Take a long-term view of the job and evaluate the likelihood of success before deciding to accept.

Moral Obligation

A business or individual should not accept a job found to be ethically questionable. This includes refusing work due to a lack of adherence to regulation, required documentation, permits, safety procedures, health code standards, or taxation practices. In addition, the final product should be something you stand behind and don’t mind associating with your business.

Preserving Customer Base

Receiving a job from a new client may not be favorable if you wish to maintain a strong relationship with an established, larger, more stable opportunity channel. Turning down an opportunity with a new client may forfeit future opportunities. However, if a constant work stream is already with another client, it just might make sense to do so in anticipation for future work. In addition, you may not have the workforce or resources to establish a new client.

Developing Customer Base

Alternatively, turning down a job from a previous client may be favorable if your goal is to expand your customer base. This is the case if you wish to pursue a different industry, market, product line, or customer base. Forfeiting one opportunity now can result in a future freelance job that better aligns with your strategic plan and desired company direction.

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