The value of saying no

As my graduation fast approaches, I find myself thrown from my old life of college, lectures, essays, exams and assignments into something new. Instead of devoting my time to crafting a good essay or a thoughtful answer, I now spend my time reading through a new type of assignment: job descriptions.

Just like writing a good essay comes from knowing the details of the assignment, understanding a job description is key to writing a good application. Then, if the application is good enough, I’m called to a hearing to defend myself… They call it an interview! Once there, I’m asked questions about odd situations and what I might do. A policeman wouldn’t look for as much detail as these people.

Once finished, much like an essay, I don’t find out how I did until weeks later. Unfortunately, also much like an essay, the result is very often bad news. But that bad news can come in many forms: sometimes I get no offer at all, sometimes I don’t ever hear back, but the worst has to be when I do get an offer and it’s absolutely terrible.

I haven’t worked as hard as I have in college and in life to just take the first thing I’m offered anymore

Which brings me to an odd moment in my life. I’ve worked a lot of jobs, I’ve worked in retail for years, I worked in colleges, I’ve worked on unions, in an accountancy firm, I’ve lifted steel in the local steelyard, I’ve chaired meetings and I’ve even written a fairly sizable number of columns. What’s completely new to me is that now, I feel like I can turn down an offer.

So as I make my slow transition out of university life and into the working world, I find myself with a new perspective. Instead of just taking every little bit of work I’m offered, no matter how hard the work or how bad the pay, I’m learning the value of saying no. It sounds simple, but I’ve really never found myself able to do this before.

Now, when someone comes with a job I don’t like, or with a terrible pay packet, I just say no. Sure, maybe I’ll negotiate a bit, but I haven’t worked as hard as I have in college and in life to just take the first thing I’m offered anymore. That’s liberating in itself. Last month I was offered two decent roles and I said no to both of them over pay and working conditions.

I think I’m ready to turn this new corner in life.

I hope.

NIALL TORRIS

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