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How to Accept a Job Offer

by THEA kelley | October 8, 2020

Accepting a job offer can be as simple as blurting “yes!” But if you want the best possible transition, compensation package and success in your new job, then let’s slow down a bit and get it right.

What to say when you’re offered a job.

Say you’re excited, say it’s fabulous news, say thank you. Just don’t say yes–yet.

Have they given you an offer letter including start date, job title, job description, salary and all benefits? If not, politely ask when you will be receiving that. (Occasionally you may be asked to accept before seeing the written offer letter. In this case, you might say something like “I’m planning to accept the offer, but of course I’d like to look over the details before I make it official.”)

Once you have it all in writing, ask for a day (or more, if you need it) to consider the specifics. You might mention that you want to discuss the offer with your spouse or partner. And if you’re thinking you might want to negotiate anything, ask “When can we meet to discuss the details?”

Then take the time to make sure everything in the offer is clear. Ask questions if you need to. Make sure you know what you’re getting into and that it’s really a good fit. And consider whether anything about the offer could be better.

Why and how you should seriously consider negotiating–despite the current state of the job market.

Even in 2020 I’m helping job candidates improve upon initial offers. It’s very much worth the effort, since your specifics of your next salary, job title and so on could affect your career and your family’s finances for years to come.

Although I know it can be nerve-wracking if you haven’t done it before, I recommend that most job seekers give negotiation their best shot. The exceptions are when the role is entry level, or when you’re certain nothing about the job is negotiable (this is often true for public sector jobs, as well as a small percentage of for-profit companies).

Keep in mind that salary isn’t the only consideration. Potentially anything about a job, from start date to severance, could potentially be open to adjustment if you negotiate skillfully.

What to do if other offers may be pending.

Let’s say you’ve got a firm offer from Company A, but you’re also in an interview process with Company B, where they’re also enthusiastic about you. Tell Company B that you have a definite offer elsewhere, and ask how soon they might be able to make a decision and an offer. Then talk to Company A. Emphasize that their offer is the most exciting one, but that you feel you owe it to yourself/your family to see what Company B can offer. Negotiate for time. Be very empathetic, tactful and clear, and confirm in writing any timeframes agreed to.

You may find that the Company A improves their offer once they know they have competition, while Company B makes you an offer soon enough that you can consider both. (And then you’ll want to know how to decline an offer, as well.)

Whatever offer you accept, take that commitment seriously. Backing out after accepting an offer is considered bad form, and it can seriously damage your reputation.

When you finally accept the offer, do so in writing.

Everything about this process must be very clear. Confirming everything in writing can prevent disastrous misunderstandings.

What else you should know about accepting a job offer and making a smooth career transition?

There’s more you should know about how to accept a job offer, close your job search (maintaining all the connections and learning you gained) and get off to a great start in your new job. Please read my post, 22 Tips from Offer to On-the-job.

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