THE BLOG
05/11/2016 02:55 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How to Expertly Handle the Job Offer

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The Steps to Ensure Success and Start Out on The Right Foot

You've prepped, you've searched, you've tediously applied and interviewed; feeling under pressure the entire time. Then comes the offer! The culmination of all of your efforts. Every fiber of your being is screaming, YES. The voice in your head says: Accept immediately. But is that really in your best interest?

Surprisingly this crucial element of the job search process is often overlooked. In researching this article, I found very little information about what to do you when a job offer is extended. You can find plenty of articles on negotiation, but what about the very basics of how and when to accept an offer?

This puzzling since it is so critical that you start out on the right foot. Maybe it's because everyone thinks you either accept or decline and move forward. Who doesn't want the relief of the process to be over and to have a paycheck finally, right? There is, however, more to it than just a yes or no.

Accepting a job offer is a big move and should require a lot of thought on your part. Will Thomson, President of Bulls Eye Recruiting in Austin, Texas, puts it in perspective, "The worst feeling in the world is taking a job and doing something you are not going to enjoy doing and be good at doing. You may have the skills, but with a majority of our week spent at work, we want to be happy with what we are doing.

Laura Mazzullo, the owner of East Side Staffing, a New York City-based recruitment firm, agrees and believes that being straightforward about your intent and feelings is the best policy, "Most Hiring Managers want to hire someone who is really excited to come on board. Showing a bit of enthusiasm and excitement about an opportunity is a good thing".

So if you and the hiring manager have been forthright and honest during the process, what you need to do when the offer comes around is simple. Follow these steps and give yourself the chance to make the choice that is best for you while still being fair to the process.

1. Be gracious and say thank you! "Expressing gratitude is important" Mazzullo asserts. "Ensure they know how grateful you are for the time and effort they put forth in presenting this offer to you."

2. Don't accept on the spot. Please just fight this urge. There is no reason to pretend you don't want the job or to keep the hiring manager guessing at this stage, but take the time to review everything in detail first. "Today's trends are becoming a bit more informal and more personable in their tone; therefore, don't hesitate to express emotion by saying things like: "Thank you so much for this opportunity. I'm so excited about the prospect of joining your firm! I would just like to take a look at everything in writing..." explains Mazzullo.

3. Ask for the offer in writing. Get all the details of the role and the compensation package in writing. You need to be clear on all the details before you accept and can ask clarifying questions if you have this information outlined in writing before taking the role. If there was something you forgot to ask about or you never quite nailed down, this gives you a chance to review it formally.


Speaking from experience, Mazzullo thinks this practice is in your best interest and makes a strong impression, "Most employers appreciate someone who is going to make a thoughtful decision to join their firm; wanting to review the offer in writing is not only appropriate but it is advised."

4. Review the entire package, not just salary. Salary is only one component. If that feels low to you, see what other perks come along with the role. There may be wiggle room there. Also, consider if the position advances your career plan: Are you passionate about the work, does the culture appeal to you? Will you thrive at this company and in the role? Weight the pros and cons and make an informed decision.

5. Respond within a 48-hour timeframe. This is a reasonable period of time, and most employers will have no problem granting it. If you ask for the time, make sure you can give a firm yes or no when the deadline is up. Don't be non-committal or try to play offers against each other. "[This] can be a frustrating answer to an employer and you could burn bridges by not giving a "yes" or "no"" reveals Thomson.

You need to be fair in this process and respectful of the time of all parties involved. Mazzullo has found, "most firms are comfortable with 1-2 days. After that, it will be a red flag that the candidate isn't interested in the role, is potentially 'shopping the offer around' or is trying to secure a counter offer with their employer."

6. Decide if you need to negotiate any parts of the offer.

If you choose to negotiate something prior to accepting, be able to explain why you deserve it and be ready to accept the job if they match your ask (otherwise don't ask). Requesting the higher end of the salary range or additional vacation time may be reasonable but make sure you explain why you are seeking for the added value. If you can't come up with reasons why you deserve it, maybe it isn't something you can reasonably ask.

"As a candidate, you should know what you bring to the table. If you have all of the skills, you can ask for the top of the range, but if you don't, then you shouldn't be surprised when they don't offer you the highest salary" according to Thomson. "When you negotiate, be confident of your abilities and understand what they are looking for in a candidate. If you have what they need, then you can negotiate, if you don't have the skills, then it may be best to accept the offer". Always remember, you negotiate at your own risk, and an offer can always be rescinded.

Just like every part of the hiring process, how you conduct yourself matters. Someone that works in good faith portrays their value and expectations honestly while being genuinely likable will fare far better than someone being aloof or playing hardball. Hiring is human, and your behaviors will have a total impact on the outcome and the willingness of someone to go to bat for you. You are building your reputation and perception with this company as well as the recruiters and firms that they interact. This is not the time to burn bridges.

You will have many job offers during your lifetime. Knowing what each side of the table expects and having respect for everyone involved will serve you well as you navigate your career. Good luck and may amazing offers come your way.

Image courtesy of samarttiw at FreeDigitalPhotos.net