You did it! You aced the interviews, dazzled the hiring manager, and were offered the job. Congratulations, your hard work has paid off and now it’s time to accept the offer. We cover the do’s and don’ts of how to respond to a job offer below, and have the tips you’ve been looking for to ensure you appear like a complete professional.
Before you accept any job opportunity, there are a few factors to consider. Pay, commute, work-life balance, company culture, and benefits should all play a part in your decision to commit to an organization. It’s important to think carefully about each aspect before saying yes, or no.
Receiving an Offer
When you receive an offer, it can be tempting to react immediately and say, “Yes, I accept!” Resist the urge to accept right away. There’s no better time to negotiate with an employer than before you’ve accepted their offer.
Even if you’re ready to accept the position, take the time to consider your options. You don’t want to put yourself in a situation where you’ve accepted and then have to decline later on. (Yikes!)
Pro-Tip: After you’ve accepted an offer, there’s usually no room for negotiating the terms. Make sure you’re happy with the conditions before signing anything. If you received a verbal offer, feel free to ask for it in writing. This will confirm that the offer is actually on the table and ensure there are no miscommunications about what’s being offered. Viewing the terms in writing lets you see what parts of it you’re happy with, which you’d like to negotiate, and area you have questions about.
When you’re considering accepting an offer, make sure you keep the following in mind.
- Understand the deadline for responding.
- Acknowledge your receipt of the offer.
- Consider what’s being offered.
- Consider outside elements.
- Respond by the deadline.
Timeline for Responding
How much time can you take to respond to a job offer without facing consequences? While there’s no set in stone timeframe, you’re likely to be able to take three business days to respond without hurting anyone’s feelings. Some employers will give you a week to respond, but it’s always a good idea to ask for clarification if you’re unsure what their timeline is.
Acknowledge the Offer
It’s courteous to acknowledge your receipt of an official job offer, even if you’re not ready to accept or reject it yet. Feel free to respond verbally, or in writing, based on the method of communication you’ve had with the employer. You should aim to acknowledge the offer within 24 hours.
Remember to include:
- A thank you for the opportunity.
- Whether or not you understand the terms of the offer. If you do, indicate that. If you don’t, ask for clarification.
- When you will submit your response by. If you’re unsure when the employer is expecting an answer, ask.
What Your Offer Should Outline
Your offer letter should outline, at minimum, six elements.
- The job title.
- If you’re an exempt or non-exempt employee.
- What company provided benefits are available to you.
- Your start date.
- The hours you’ll be working.
Make sure you fully understand each component above before accepting or rejecting an offer. If you’re a full-time employee, your job offer should come with a detailed description of your benefit plan. If it does not, ask for clarification so there aren’t any surprises down the road.
Don’t be nervous about asking the recruiter for clarity! Their job is to bring in well-informed candidates, and you should know what you’re agreeing to when you decide on the offer.
What You Should Consider When You Receive a Job Offer
During your job search, you researched the organizations you were interviewing with. The questions you asked during your interviews should have given you a good understanding of the responsibilities and expectations within the position. While the information you gathered from your research helped you land the role, it might not be enough to help you make a decision in regard to your offer.
Check out sites like Glassdoor and Comparably to see what current and past employees have to say about the organization. You can learn a lot about the culture and management from the reviews. While reading, take what previous employees have to say with a grain of salt. Often, happy employees aren’t leaving reviews on job boards. However, if you see an issue recurring throughout multiple posts, you should pay attention.
Take a look at the full compensation package and carefully consider what’s being offered to you. If you think the salary, job title, benefits, and working hours are acceptable, you’re halfway to accepting the position.
Consider Elements Outside of the Office
What will your commute look like? Will you have a good work-life balance, or will you end up living in your cubicle? Are the benefits that are being offered better than what you currently have? Do you need to relocate in order to accept the position, and if so, how will that impact the lives of your family?
The answers to some of these questions could be deal-breakers for you, so consider each aspect carefully. It’s better to reject the offer outright, rather than having to quit later on.
Accepting The Offer
If you’re happy with the offer, it’s time to accept. Woohoo!
Some employers will ask you to sign their offer letter and return it. Others simply require a written acceptance. Either way, you’ll need to compose a short but appreciative email to send.
When accepting an offer via email, you have the opportunity to send a well thought out message along with your signed letter. Your note does not need to be long, but it should reiterate your excitement about the new position and demonstrate your professionalism.
Make sure to address your email to the person who sent the offer letter and check carefully for typos or errors before sending. Your email should reassure your new employer that they made the right choice in hiring you!
If you’re returning a signed document, make sure to reference it in the message, and don’t forget to attach it! (Yes, this sounds like a silly tip, but it’s easy to neglect the attachment in your excitement.)
Pro-Tip: When you’re drafting your email, wait until the very last moment to add the recipient’s email address in the “to:” section. Doing this will protect you from sending a half-finished message.
End your message by reiterating your appreciation for the offer, and ask if there’s any further information they need from you. Proofread, (twice), press send, and your work is done!
Declining an Offer
It’s fine to immediately decline an offer if you don’t think the position is a good fit. Be prompt with your response, rather than dragging out the process. Letting the company know you won’t be accepting their offer will allow them to move on to other candidates they’ve recently interviewed. While they may be disappointed you won’t be joining their team, they’ll appreciate your professionalism.
If you’ve decided to decline an offer, send your response within 24 hours. Many recruiters will start to send rejections once they’ve extended an offer to a candidate and your quick response will give them time to reconsider their options.
Some companies will send official offers with expiration dates, whether they’re verbal or written. If your offer outlined a timeline for when they expect to receive your response, make sure you follow it. Not only is it considered rude and unprofessional to miss a deadline, but the employer may rescind their offer after the date they stated has passed.
If your offer arrived via email with a vague statement such as, “please respond at your earliest convenience,” you may need to ask when they need to receive a response by. While it’s fully acceptable to ask if there’s a deadline, tread carefully with this option!
Make sure to preface your question by relaying your thanks for the opportunity. If you choose your words carefully, you’ll come off as appreciative and thoughtful. If you don’t, you could appear ungrateful, disinterested, and rude.
Use our email template to ensure you’re asking for clarification about the deadline in the best way possible.
Requesting More Time to Decide
You’ve decided you need more time to come to a decision and now you need to request an extension. Pick up the phone and call the recruiter you received the offer from. While it may be an uncomfortable conversation, it’s important that you call and speak with them directly, as email tone can be easily misinterpreted.
Don’t wait until the last minute to ask, as that may cause you to look like someone who doesn’t think ahead. As soon as you realize you need more time, reach out.
Be tactful with your wording. Make sure you express your gratitude for the offer and clearly outline your reasoning for your request. If you simply ask for more time without providing a compelling reason why the employer may take offense and revoke their original offer.
In the event that you’ll need to relocate or have other job offers that you’re considering, you may need more time to make the best decision for yourself.
Once you’ve called, follow up with an email confirming the decision that was made. Doing this will ensure that you have a clear understanding of when the new deadline is and will allow the employer to immediately correct any misunderstandings.
Open and close your email by expressing your appreciation of the opportunity.
Three Ways to Buy Yourself Time
When you’ve received an offer, you may feel pressured to give an immediate response. Understand that most reasonable employers will not require you to commit on the spot, and generally, will expect you to take some time to consider their offer or make a counteroffer.
Verbal and in-person offers can make you feel rushed to accept, so how do you handle a situation where you’d like to ask for time to consider your next step? There are a few options available to candidates who need to buy themselves some time.
In every situation, make sure to keep things professional and positive, while reiterating your appreciation for the offer and your interest in working for the company.
As we mentioned above, you’re generally allowed three business days to make a decision, but taking any longer than that may insult the hiring manager or cause the employer to rescind their offer. Businesses need employees and most organizations are trying to fill open positions as quickly as possible; if a recruiter thinks you’re dragging your feet, they may move on to the next candidate.
We’ve outlined three options for gaining extra time to make your decision and ranked them from least to most risky.
Least Risky: Ask Questions
Any new opportunity comes with a lot of unknown factors, so employers expect that prospective employees will have questions. A lot is covered during the interview process, but it’s normal for candidates to need more information once an offer is on the table.
A great way to buy yourself some time without tipping off the company that you may not accept their offer is to ask questions. It could take the recruiter a while to get back to you, which shifts some of the “blame” for the delay onto them.
The best way to prolong this process is to ask your questions via email. Standard email etiquette will probably get you a response in less than 24 hours. Try to ask the majority of your questions up front. (No one likes to receive 8 emails when they could have just gotten one!)
Start off with how appreciative you are for the offer and express your interest in working for the organization. Next, ask for clarity regarding the position, benefits, working hours, personnel policy, and anything else that you may have questions about. By requesting additional information, the recruiter will likely understand that you need some extra time to analyze the information and make a decision regarding their offer.
If you’ve requested policies, send a follow-up email and let the hiring manager know that you’ve received the documents and will be taking some time to look them over. Thank them for their help, and ask who you should address future questions to.
Less Risky: Negotiate
Let’s suppose that you’re interested in the job but not 100% on board with the total compensation package. You can present a counteroffer to the recruiter, and if they’re open to negotiating with you, you’d be given a few extra days to make your decision.
A lot of candidates think salary is the only area they can negotiate. For some positions, this is true. However, many companies offer total compensation packages with benefits, PTO, stipends, retirement benefits, and other items. You can begin by attempting to negotiate a better salary, and if that’s unsuccessful, shift your focus to indirect compensation.
If you choose to negotiate, think carefully about what you’d be happy accepting and don’t settle. Once you’ve worked out a new offer with the recruiter, declining will make you appear unprofessional. This is not to say that you can’t decline an offer that doesn’t meet your needs, but if you spend the time negotiating and come to a compromise with the company only to back out of the deal at the end, you’ve just made yourself look like a flake.
If you’re relocating and would like extra time in between leaving your current role and coming on board at your new position, try and negotiate additional time before your start date.
Negotiation is a great tactic for turning an okay offer into a great offer. In most cases, you won’t be expected to give an acceptance or declination by the original deadline during the negotiation process, which means you’ve bought yourself some time to think and you could end up with a better offer!
Very Risky: Ask for Additional Time
Understand that while you’re able to ask for an extension, the employer does not have to grant it. By not sticking to the deadline they gave you, you run the risk of the offer being rescinded.
If you choose to ask for an extension, make sure you have a valid reason for doing so. Remember the saying, “Don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched.” Hoping that you’ll get an interview with another company isn’t a valid reason for requesting a response extension. Having multiple competitive job offers would be considered a valid reason.
As soon as you decide you need more time, call the recruiter directly. Let them know you’re appreciative of the offer and briefly outline why you need more time to return a decision. Give a date that you could definitely give an answer by. The recruiter may be more willing to accommodate you if you’re clear about your needs and timeline.
Receiving a job offer is an exciting experience, so feel free to express your enthusiasm while simultaneously buying yourself time to negotiate the best deal possible. Take time while crafting your response as you have the opportunity to put your best foot forward, or seriously stick your foot in your mouth.
Remember to proofread your message, express your appreciation, and respond by the company’s deadline.
If you need more time to decide, use one of our three ways to get it. Make sure you consider every aspect of the position before committing because, at the end of the day, you want to be happy with the offer you accept.