Ilya Pozin is a serial entrepreneur, writer and investor. He is the founder of online video entertainment platform Pluto.TV, social greeting card company Open Me, and digital marketing agency Ciplex.


Receiving an offer from a huge, established company like Facebook is a dream come true. Suddenly you’re imagining the great perks like a huge salary, free lunches and plain bragging to your friends about who you work for. But before you sign on the dotted line, ask yourself a simple question: Is this truly your dream?

All of the benefits of working at a well-known company like Facebook can often blind you to other opportunities. Here are four reasons to say “no thanks” to the job offer and follow your own path instead:

Know what’s important to you

kevin systrom leweb Why you should turn down a job offer from Facebook

When Kevin Systrom turned down Mark Zuckerberg’s offer to ditch his last year of Stanford and take a gig at Facebook, he had no idea what he was giving up.

It was 2006 and the social network hadn’t yet taken off, and Systrom thought it made more sense to finish his education than to roll the dice at a startup. He valued education and decided to stay and finish up school. Little did he know Zuckerberg would turn Facebook into an empire, and the next time they met, Systrom would be the barista getting his coffee.

Of course, he wasn’t slinging coffee for very long. Systrom soon came up with Instagram and the rest, as they say, is history.

Soon Facebook was ponying up billions to buy the photo sharing service and Systrom was a millionaire many times over. He would have been successful if he had taken the job at Facebook, but he was much more successful by understanding his own values, following his passions, and creating something great.

If you want to be a success, ask yourself if you’d really be happy as a mere worker bee, no matter how amazing the company.

Don’t let failure stand in your way

Setbacks can seem devastating, but it’s important to remember they’re only temporary. Just look at the example of Brian Acton, co-founder of messaging service WhatsApp.

Back in 2009, Acton interviewed for a job at Facebook. They passed, and he went on to develop the universal messaging service that soon exploded in popularity. It turned out to be a costly mistake for Facebook, who paid $19 billion to acquire the WhatsApp service in February.

It’s important to keep in mind that sometimes the cliche is right – failures are just opportunities in disguise. Whether you turn down a job at a great company or they turn you down, it can be easy to feel like a failure, even if it was your choice. Keep it mind this setup might also be the start of an even more exciting chapter in your story.

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Find a company culture that fits

Sometimes a company will be great, but the culture just isn’t the right fit. Keep in mind your career is too important to continue to be miserable if it’s not the right opportunity. Successful people live and breathe their work, and if you’re working for the wrong company you might just find yourself unhappy even outside of your 9-to-5 shuffle.

Instead you can take the path of Steven Chen, who worked as a senior software engineer for Facebook for just a few months before starting out on his own. He eventually created his own product, a simple video uploading service… one we commonly know as YouTube.

Life is too short to take an opportunity that doesn’t match your needs. Company culture is incredibly important, so always consider it fully before taking the job.

Don’t let society tell you which path to take

When a company like Facebook comes calling, conventional wisdom will tell you to answer the phone. But the best and brightest leaders were the ones who listened to themselves, not the clamor of what they “should” be doing.

Just look at Mike Abbott, who turned down a job as Vice President of Engineering at Facebook.

“My biggest missed opportunity was also the best decision I’ve ever made,” Abbott told Fortune. “I turned down the opportunity to be VP of engineering at Facebook several years ago in order to pursue the woman who is now my wife.”

He later went on to be just as successful as Twitter’s Vice President of Engineering. Don’t discount the importance of your personal life in the search for professional glory. Just because an opportunity is prestigious doesn’t always mean it’s the right position, or the right timing.

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If you are smart, hardworking and inventive, there will always be another opportunity around the corner. Turning down a big opportunity because the timing isn’t right might be a tough call, but it can often be the right move.

There can be nothing more exciting than getting an offer from a giant, successful company. But even if Facebook – or anything other well-known company – is knocking down your door, if it’s not the right opportunity, you shouldn’t be afraid to pass. You can still be just as successful elsewhere by following your professional dreams and turning them into a reality.

Have you ever turned down a great job offer? Why? Share in the comments!

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