After job hunting for months and attending dozens of interviews, your phone lights up with a call from a prospective employer that you’ve eagerly awaited. What do you say when you answer? Do you play it cool or let them see how excited you are?
Learning how to approach a job offer and respond effectively is crucial. However, with so many “what ifs?” floating around in your mind, it can be hard to know what the best choice is, let alone the most professional one. Here’s our primer for responding to a job offer.
1. Be positive and grateful
Whether you’re talking over the phone or email, ensure that all your communication with the company keeps a positive and hopeful tone. Express gratitude for the opportunity to work with said company. If you are unsure that you will ultimately accept the offer, don’t reveal that hesitancy.
2. Confirm the details
With a job offer under your belt, you can feel confident and comfortable asking for salary and benefits details, including questions about health insurance, pay schedule, and 401ks. Confirm the job title, ranking, and annual salary, even if previously discussed.
3. Establish a timeline
You need to determine two key dates: the deadline for providing a formal answer to the company’s offer and the projected start date. It’s okay if the answer isn’t concrete. You may be given a range of dates.
4. Make sure you receive a written offer
With a verbal job offer, request that the company send it to you in writing as well. Ideally, they will already be working on this. If you have not received the written offer within 48 hours of the verbal offer, follow up via email. Verbal offers are promising, but their legal enforcement can be challenging. Avoid any ambiguity with the guarantee of a written offer.
5. Provide an initial response and request time to evaluate
It is important to respond to an offer promptly, but don’t worry, this answer can be a tentative one. For a written offer, reply in writing within 48 hours to acknowledge receiving the offer and ask for a few days for consideration. For a verbal offer, be prepared to cover these same bases in the initial conversation, especially Steps #1 and #4. Take a few days to mull things over, confer with friends, think about your priorities, and revisit Step #2 if needed.
6. Negotiate, if desired
Negotiation can be an intimidating part of this process, so know that it is entirely optional. Some people may be interested in seeing if they can bump that potential salary up a bit or enhance the benefits, so it may be worth asking the company if they are open to negotiating. In some industries, there is very little wiggle room when it comes to salary and benefits, but in others, the companies expect you to negotiate. Come prepared with research on market standards for the new position and how your experience matches up with that. Be confident but not arrogant when negotiating.
7. Share the final decision: declining the offer
If you are accepting the offer, skip this step.
It is important to communicate your decision to the company within the agreed-upon timeframe. This shows respect for their time, as well as their willingness to meet your needs. If you have chosen to decline the offer, do so kindly. Express thankfulness for the many hours they put into this process and for the chance to connect in the first place. If it feels genuine, mention what you appreciated about the company or members of the interview panel. Refer to these tips for writing thank you notes.
There is no need to provide an in-depth reason for the rejection. However, if you are familiar with the hiring manager or have gone through a multi-round interview process, it may be helpful to share a brief explanation, much like how it’s nice to receive some feedback after being looked over for a job opportunity. Even though it didn’t work out this time, do your best to keep the door open for future connections and opportunities.
8. Share the final decision: accepting the offer
Contact the hiring manager to let them know the good news. Here’s where you can let your enthusiasm show. Highlight the aspects of the new role that excite you. Make sure to check out our guide on how to quit your job professionally so you leave on good terms.
Whether or not you choose to accept the offer, take a moment to acknowledge this accomplishment. You have worked hard to get here. Make a great impression on your first day at the new job or at your next interview with these beauty tips.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some red flags to look out for during this specific part of the process?
Watch out for these common red flags:
- Pressuring the candidate to respond immediately to the job offer
- Pressuring the candidate to immediately quit their job and disregard the recommended two-week notice
- Hesitating to provide a written offer
- Significant differences in job details from job posting to final offer
What should I do if I receive multiple job offers?
When requesting time to evaluate the offers, be transparent and let each company know that you are considering competing offers, but do not get into details. You may be able to leverage the other offers to the employer you’re most interested in as a negotiation strategy.
What if I receive a job offer for a satisfactory job while awaiting a response from the job I'm more interested in?
A lot of this depends on your current employment and financial circumstances. Does the offer align with your new job criteria? Is it a notable improvement to your current situation? Does it seem like a good fit? If yes, accept the offer without mentioning the other job. There is no guarantee you will receive an offer from the other prospective employer, so set yourself up for success, regardless of the other job’s outcome. If the other job offer does come through, be honest with your new boss and hope that they’re happy for you. However, consult trusted colleagues within your industry first because there are certain fields and companies which view this type of career move very negatively.
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