What to Do When You Get a Job Offer
Congratulations! You’ve just gotten a job offer. Here are some FAQ’s about handling an offer:
What do I do first?
As great as it is to receive a job offer, you don’t have to accept it on the spot. In fact, it is customary to ask for a few days or even a week or so to consider an offer, particularly if you still have other appealing applications pending. Express your enthusiasm for the job, your interest in the organization, and agree on a specific deadline for your answer.
How Do I Negotiate a Job Offer?
Carefully and confidently. Research comparable salaries in the field and geographic location. Salaries vary widely from field to field, city to city, and sector to sector (private, not-for-profit, government) so it is imperative to do your homework. Research the cost-of-living in your target location and try to calculate your own costs. Will you be relocating? Will you need to buy a car or use public transportation? Will you have roommates or live alone? Then you will be in a stronger position to say, “I am delighted at the prospect of working for your organization and using my skills in this position. However, I was hoping for something more in the $___ to $___ range. Is there any room for negotiation?” Give a range rather than an exact figure.
But what if they say no?
Sometimes organizations have room to negotiate, sometimes not, so you should be prepared with a Plan B: “I appreciate your considering my request. Might you instead be able to help defray some of my relocation costs? Could you review my compensation in six months?” Other points of negotiation include tuition benefits and release time for classes, flexible scheduling, health club membership, and stock options. The appropriateness of these possibilities depends on the type of organization and level of position.
It’s important to know how low a salary you are willing to accept and what risks you are willing to take. While salary and benefit negotiations are standard practice, a candidate should be realistic and enthusiastic rather than strident or demanding. Employers have been known to rescind offers extended to inflexible candidates.
What if I am still waiting to hear from other employers?
If you receive one offer but are really hoping for another, contact the other employer and find out where they are in their decision-making process. It is OK to say, “I am so interested in this position and organization–in fact you are my hands-down first choice. Though I have received another offer, this position is the best match for my strengths.” Try to get an estimate of the timing involved. Then, contact the offering employer and ask if you can let them know your answer by whatever date that is. Keep following up with the employer in progress.
It’s not always possible to synchronize multiple applications satisfactorily. Try to imagine you have all the job offers in hand and weigh their pro’s and con’s–you may be able to simplify your decisions.
What happens when I accept an offer?
Express your enthusiasm and request that the offer be confirmed in writing. Establish a starting date, being sure to discuss any prior commitments already on your calendar. Share your good news with those who helped you along the way and don’t forget to withdraw your name from other searches.
Is it OK to accept an offer and then decline it when a better one comes through? Ethically, you should withdraw your name from other searches once you accept an offer. Occasionally, situations do occur where you are unable to honor your commitment to an employer (once-in-a-lifetime fellowship award, a change in your personal circumstances, etc.) that may require you to rescind your acceptance; this should be done very rarely and with great care.
An interview is a two-way conversation. It is your opportunity to evaluate an employer, position, and work setting to see if the “fit” is right for you. Without being too casual, try to relax and be yourself. Employers want to see your personality as well as your qualifications, and you want to see theirs.