I turned down an interview at Amazon

The other week I was approached by a 'talent recruiter' for Amazon. They were in my area recruiting for experienced people to move over to US/Canada to bolster their ever-growing tech team.

It's not every day that you get a chance to talk to one of the biggest household names (and the second company to crack the trillion dollar market cap) so I engaged in a good conversation with the guy about the role and how my skills and experience would line up.

Eventually I declined the offer to interview.

This move surprised a few of my family and friends, including my wife.

It was only 18 months ago that I was deep in interviews with a few tech companies around the world and here was a seemingly great opportunity that came knocking on my door. Why would I turn it down? Why would I not even bother to interview?

The reason was simple: I did not see the job at Amazon as a step forward on any of my potential career paths.

I often talk about the need to know where you are heading in your career. This does not need to be explicit - you don't have to know EXACTLY where you will be in 5, 10 or 20 years - but you should at least have an idea of the direction you want to be heading.

Once you know your possible career direction you can roughly map out a path toward it. Once again this is never fully accurate but is to be used as more of a guide. You should be able to identify what the natural steps are along your chosen career path.

With that defined, assessing job opportunities becomes pretty simple. You just consider how close the proposed job is to the next step(s) along your career path and determine if the new job is moving you in the right direction.

For me, the proposed job at Amazon was not moving me in the right direction.

The pros were it would have paid more money, provided interesting learning experience, and probably have opened doors for me if I moved back to Australia in a few years.

But the responsibilities of the role was more of a sideways, even slightly backwards, move in terms of my skills and experience and I would have felt like I was killing time just to build up time at Amazon for my CV. Essentially I would have been sacrificing my short-term progress for more money and the potential long-term progress of my career.

Normally I'm all for delayed gratification like this. Success is often built on short-term sacrifices for long-term gains. The problem here was that I did not want those long-term gains.

The long-term gains of this role would take me off my current path. They would take me away from where I truly want to be heading. I would have earned more money but not made any progress toward any of my proposed career goals. In that sense, the long-term results weren't actual gains at all.

So I declined the interview and I was extremely happy with the decision. If anything, rejecting something can make you feel positive about your current path. It confirmed I was happy and confident where I am and with the direction I am moving.

I wanted to share this experience with you to remind you two things:

1. It is important to know what possible direction(s) your career is heading. This wont be perfect. Hell it probably wont even be right much more than half the time but you must have some idea of where you want to be going. Otherwise you're just randomly floating through your career.

2. Not every seemingly good opportunity will move you in the right direction. Some opportunities will come dressed up with all the cool bells and whistles (or money). This is often lipstick on a pig. Unless your career direction is completely centered around the pig (or lipstick) you don't want to take these opportunities.

Let me know if you've ever turned down a seemingly great job because it didn't line up with your career.