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This past summer I interned at a company which then offered me a full-time position for after I graduate in June. I am very glad I have this offer, however there are a couple issues I have:

  1. The company is out of state, and I would rather work in my current state.
  2. I believe the compensation offered was a bit low compared to what I could find elsewhere, and their state has state income tax while my state does not, making my take-home pay even lower. Using Glassdoor's market worth calculator tells me that the offer is ~11k lower than average in their location, and ~20k lower than my location.
  3. While I enjoyed my work, the company is not rated super well on Glassdoor (< 60%).

My response is due in a month, and because I believe I could find a job that would be a better fit for me I do not want to accept it and settle for the job. However, I do not want to decline it either in case I do not find anything better. Is it unprofessional to accept the offer while still looking for jobs, and then cancel if I find something better by June?

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A good rule of thumb would be to imagine how you'd feel if the company did the reverse. Would you consider it unprofessional if the company offered you a position now, you accepted, and then 7 months from now they called to rescind the offer because they found a better candidate? I imagine that you would.

Of course, it does occasionally happen that life happens in the span of half a year. Companies do, on occasion, have to rescind offers and candidates do, on occasion, have to rescind acceptances. But you shouldn't accept an offer if you plan on continuing to actively seek new opportunities-- that at a minimum will burn a bridge with the company which would be unfortunate since you'll likely want a reference from them.

If you politely decline the offer now, it is entirely possible that you would be able to contact them again in 6 months and see if they'd be open to reconsidering.

  • If you politely decline, then if another spot opens they'll consider you. If they think you're just going to waste their time again... – keshlam Oct 31 '16 at 22:12
  • Thank you, this was exactly my thought. I had received advice from someone that said I should just say I'll take it even if I'm looking for something better because "it's just business, that's how it works". It didn't feel right to me and I wanted to double check that I was correct. – Sawyer Knoblich Nov 1 '16 at 7:54
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Yes, it is unprofessional to accept a job if you don't actually intend to work there. Think about how the company feels if their other top candidates took other jobs while you were dithering...

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