Unemployed--What if I turn down a job?

I’m on unemployment, and I just had an interview for a job that I think they’re going to offer, but I really don’t want it. It pays a lot less than I was making before ($8,000 less), and it just wouldn’t be very interesting work. Plus, I just got an interview for a job that looks way more interesting, but they probably won’t make a decision for a few weeks. I would hate to start one job and then leave in a few weeks when I get offered a better job. What would happen if they offered me the job and I said no? If I don’t report it to the unemployment office, is there any way they could find out?

Has anyone been in this situation before? What did you do? Is there a way that I can turn down the job and not lose my unemployment benefits?


Surely there must be a way around it. I’ve never gone through it before, but I don’t think your benefits could be denied because you didn’t take the job. Hey, being a bust boy is a job, but should you be forced to take it just because it’s a job?

How about not admitting that you turned down a job on the unemployment benefits form? Like anyone will find out?

What about being a leg boy? I’ve been one of those for some time. :slight_smile:

IIRC, the unemployment office allows you to turn down a job without losing benefits under certain conditions, and a major cut in salary is one of them (this was in NY, BTW, so it may be different in your state; there are probably guidelines somewhere). They don’t want you to turn down work, but they also don’t want employers paying less than the going rate.

I turned down a job in a situation like this when I was on unemployment. I reported it, they asked why, and when I told them the money wasn’t enough to pay my expenses, it was OK.

Better to do it this way than to have unemployment find out you didn’t report the offer.

I’m sure this varies from state to state. I’d bet that your state’s unemployment office has a website or a number you can call without identifying yourself for questions just like this. I was unemployed (in Washington state) a couple of years ago and right off the bat I was offered a job that was in my salary range and experience level. Unfortunately, during the second interview, I came to the conclusion that I’d rather give up my benefits than take the job. When I talked to the unemployment folks, I told them that the job didn’t make good use of my skills (true) and they were fine with that. Had I used that same excuse three times, maybe the would not have been so easygoing.

One thing they did tell me is that I got a lot of instant credibility just by telling them about the situation and were much more inclined to be understanding. Had I covered up the situation and they had found out about it through their regular check-ups, I would have lost my benefits, retroactively, with almost no hope of talking my way out of the situation even though the facts were no different from the actual case.

Thanks, everyone, for the good advice. I talked to the unemployment people about this (before I got an offer), and they told me that the only reason you can turn down a job is if it pays substantially less (and I got the impression that it has to pay about half what you were making, but I’ll call them to confirm that). I’ll probably report it, and hope that the unemployment office will be okay with it, and keep giving me money. It does pay a lot less than I was making before, and a lot of my skills would go unused.

My interview this morning went really well–I hope I make the cut and get into Round 2. Much more interesting work, a chance to develop some new skills, and better pay. I sure hope this one works out!


If you’re really hard up for cash (I’m assuming the shit job pays more than UI benefits anyway), take the shit job and then if you interview with the other company for the better job just tell them you’re still out of work and can start right away. The shit job won’t show up on your credit report (if it ever does) for a few months at least. Then arrange it so that your last day at the shit job is payday. Collect and cash your last check and never go back. Flame away ethics cops, I don’t care. As they say in the mob “it’s just business”.