What do you do when you get a job offer (or multiple offers)? What if you need to decline the offer? How do you give yourself a cushion of time to see if other offers come through? What if you need to negotiate the terms? This can all be exciting, but overwhelming. Here’s how to respond to a job offer, no matter which way you need to go.
Accepting the offer?
If you’re ready to accept the job offer, then it’s easy. (Always carefully review any offers before you accept.) Respond to a written offer with a written acceptance. Start by thanking them for the opportunity and clearly accept it. Recap your understanding of the job title, salary and benefits, and start date. Good communication matters all the way through the interviewing and hiring process, and this is the final step.
If you need a minute…
Respond quickly to any offer—even if your response is, “please hold.” If you’re waiting for another offer to come in, or if you just need time to think it over or counter, it’s OK to say so.
Let them know you got the offer and you appreciate it very much. If they haven’t told you, ask when they need an answer. Tell them that you’re expecting another offer also and need a few days to make your decision. Everyone needs to be on the same page about when you’ll get back to them. You wouldn’t want to be left waiting and wondering, so don’t do it to employers, either.
If you need to negotiate a few things
You can’t negotiate anything until you get a formal, written job offer. Once you do, however, there’s almost always room to negotiate salary, benefits, or perks.
I always like to negotiate from a positive point of view. That means that you should thank them for the offer and let them know how excited you are about the job and can they adjust the [whatever it is you want to negotiate]. That’s a different, more positive and palatable approach than, “I can’t take the job until you do X.”
If you need to decline the offer
If you need to decline a job offer, be up front about it as soon as possible. Don’t ghost them, give them a flimsy excuse, or wait too long to tell them. Behaving badly here can affect your reputation in the industry for years. Employers are people too, and will understand taking a different offer, especially if you’re genuinely appreciative of theirs and tell them why you chose the other company. It’s probably better to call in this situation, but you could also send an email. (See some examples of what to say here.)
Taking the right job is important. So stop and weigh the factors. Yes, money is important, but so is career path, quality of life, commute times, and more. Make sure to respond to a job offer as quickly as you can. Communicate clearly, with respect and appreciation.
Best of luck.