A couple of months ago, I spent a long time on the internet, looking up the words “toxic job offer” because I was certain I received one. I was hoping to find something to help me make sense of the job offer sitting in my mailbox. My search results were mainly about companies that offered horrible salaries or with toxic work environment. No one was speaking about a job offer that crushes your soul. I was always under the impression that only relationships whether between family members, friends, or work colleagues can be toxic. Little did I know that a job offer would teach me something new about toxic patterns.
I’ve been regularly writing articles for Thrive Global and posting them on LinkedIn. A business owner sent me a message and said she loved one of my articles. After a while, she contacted me again, saying that she was hiring a remote content writer and asked me to apply if I was interested. Of course, I was interested. I wasn’t employed at that time. So, I applied for the job and went through the whole hiring process. I wrote a sample article, got feedback from the editors, and edited the article again (I was told getting feedback and responding to it was all part of the assessment process). I’m not complaining. They need to make sure I am a good fit for the job.
I got an offer. Yay. That’s supposed to be great. Right? Except that it wasn’t. This is what I got. Your writing is not up to our standards, but we’ll hire you anyway. Instead of the pure joy I was supposed to feel for landing a job, I kept staring at the screen and asking myself “if they don’t like my writing, why would they hire me?” I was humiliated, offended, and confused. Honestly at that time, I didn’t know what to do.
I ended up showing the email to a friend. And she told me exactly what I needed to do but was too shocked to do on the spot – the only sensible thing – reject the offer. She told me that the offer was ridiculous and downright rude. They want you to feel bad about yourself, that you’re not good enough so that you would accept a low salary. You didn’t get this job because you deserve it, but simply because they were kind enough to hire you. My friend nailed it. She is right because I was invited to apply for the job. I ended up rejecting the job offer, saying that I personally believe there is always room for improvement, but I want to be hired at a place where my work is appreciated.
Let’s break down why I think this offer is toxic. It is confusing. You don’t know how you should feel. Should I be happy I got an offer or should I be offended? It attacks your self-worth so that you accept less than what you deserve. An employer is doing you a favor, so you should be forever grateful. They are holding you hostage to their kindness. And if you think about it, the offer was also fishy. There was this part of the offer that said “you won’t be paid if the work done was of low quality.” That means since my writing is below standards, I would not be paid.
I’m really happy I got that offer. I had a chance to see how a job offer could be toxic and humiliating. It taught me that not every opportunity is a great opportunity. It also taught me to know my worth. I’m not the greatest writer out there, but I shouldn’t let anyone humiliate me. What they offered me wasn’t a constructive feedback. I would have gladly accepted you’re not a suitable candidate, or your writing would be better if you tried that. Most importantly, it was a reminder that a work relationship should always be built upon respect.
Sending them the email where I rejected their offer was such a great feeling. Until now, I keep sharing their email with my friends to show them how horrible a job offer could be. Now, I’m writing this article so that when anyone is looking up a “toxic job offer,” my advice here would pop up: “Please, don’t accept this job offer. Don’t let anyone make you believe that they are doing you a favor by offering you a job. You deserve so much better, and finally if you’re confused enough that you have to look up whether it is toxic or not, it probably is.”